Click on the highlighted parts of the house to find out how the new TWIA law affects your family and business.
Under current law, all Texans have the same rights when it comes to dealing with their insurance company. If a policyholder in West Texas has a wildfire loss, or a Texan in the Panhandle is hit by a hailstorm, they have the same protections against abuse by insurance companies as a Coastal Texan has from TWIA. Policyholders are protected against unfair denials of their claims, against misrepresentations, hidden information and more.
Thanks to the actions of politicians in Austin, under a new law, Texans on the Gulf Coast who purchase insurance through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association will now be treated under a totally different set of rules than our fellow citizens in the rest of the state. Gulf Coast residents have become second-class citizens.
Under current law, if an insurance company unfairly delays, denies or underpays your claim, you have the right to your day in court with a jury of your peers.
Under the new law, you’ll probably have to pay more if you want to retain the right to go to court if you’ve been treated unfairly by TWIA. The new TWIA law says that windstorm insurance policies containing “binding arbitration” can be up to 10% cheaper than those that don’t. Binding arbitration means you have no right to have your case heard in a courtroom. That’s right – the politicians in Austin want you to PAY MORE MONEY in order to keep your 7th amendment Constitutional right to go to court.
Currently, laws known as Chapter 541 and Chapter 542 of the Texas Insurance Code state that every insurance company has a duty to promptly investigate and settle claims within specific deadlines.
Under the new law, Chapters 541 and 542 of the insurance code do not apply to TWIA. That means homeowners, churches and businesses have no protections requiring their windstorm insurer to investigate and settle their claims in a timely manner.
Under current law, the rules are pretty clear. You pay monthly premiums for TWIA windstorm insurance, and when a storm comes, you file a claim. TWIA can deny your claim or pay it. If you’re unhappy with their denial, or believe they have unfairly underpaid your claim, you have the right to hire an attorney and take the insurance company to court.
Under the new law, handling your claim dispute with TWIA will be harder than ever before. The bill creates a so-called "expert panel" – an unelected, unaccountable group to establish guidelines to judge claims. And if your dispute with TWIA is over the amount of money they owe you – and most claims are about the amount of money owed – then you’ll be forced into a process known as “appraisal.” Appraisal is binding and can’t be appealed. Once your case has been submitted for appraisal, it will be virtually impossible to take TWIA to court for their wrongdoings.
Trust and fairness are the foundation of our society. In America, and in our great state, a deal is a deal. We honor our contracts and keep our word.
The TWIA law destroys the foundation of every policyholder. That’s because the new law is retroactive. Do you have a TWIA policy on your home, church or business? Look closely at the policy; you’ll see it guarantees you certain rights, such as the right to take TWIA to court if they don’t deliver the services you’ve paid for. Well, starting September 28, that policy is no good. The new law undoes current contracts – no matter how long you’ve been paying monthly TWIA premiums.