If you’re a Texas resident living in a coastal county, and even if you already have homeowners insurance, it’s wise to get well acquainted with state law on wind and hail coverage and the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. This agency provides a very important backstop for homeowners who find themselves unable to secure or afford homeowners insurance coverage against the major storms and hurricanes that periodically batter the Gulf coast.
Even with homeowners insurance, residents in this storm zone, which also includes sections of Harris County adjoining Galveston Bay, may find their policies don’t cover damage caused by high winds or hail. There’s no law in Texas that requires insurers to provide the coverage, but there is TWIA, the Lone Star state’s “insurer of last resort.” It’s state-sponsored coverage available through private insurance agents.
Homeowners living in one of the 14 coastal counties in southeast Texas are likely to discover that they’re homeowners insurance won’t cover damage from hail or high winds. The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is the state’s insurer of last resort for windstorm and hail coverage. You may buy TWIA coverage through local insurance agents if you need it.
Coastal residents must plan ahead, however. An impending storm that reaches the Gulf of Mexico means windstorm coverage is temporarily unavailable, at least until the storm passes. Without coverage for wind damage through TWIA or conventional homeowners insurance, any damages will be paid for out of pocket.
It’s also key to remember that Texas requires a certificate of compliance when homeowners undertake any renovations or additions to existing structures. This document, formally known as a WPI-8, is secured through an inspection that takes place while construction is under way. The inspections, which may also be required by a homeowners insurance policy, are available free of charge from the Texas Department of Insurance, or through a a licensed inspector.
TWIA also requires that some residents have flood insurance. This applies to property newly constructed or renovated after September 1, 2009, as well as homes lying in certain federal flood zones (V1-V30, VE or V). If you’re unsure if this requirement applies to your residence, the National Flood Insurance Program maintains detailed maps on its website that delineate the zones down to each residential block and house. Homeowners insurance policies don’t normally cover flood damage for homes in actual danger of seasonal flooding, which is the reason the NFIP exists.