Windstorm insurance is a must for many Texas homeowners. But where can you buy it? Most insurance providers offer it, but if you strike out with them, there's always the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.
Learn more about your windstorm insurance options in this article, which covers:
Where to buy windstorm insurance
Windstorm insurance is available through most insurance providers in Texas. However, if you're denied coverage through a private insurer, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) offers a "last resort" coverage option in some counties so homeowners can comply with mortgage lender standards.
You can purchase a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policy through private insurance companies in the state. Policies are not sold directly by TWIA.
Texas windstorm insurance coverage
Windstorm insurance covers your home's structure and your belongings within it from damage due to high winds, tornadoes, hail and other wind-related events. Windstorm insurance may also cover additional living expenses (ALE) if you have to relocate while the damage is repaired.
Most homeowners insurance policies in other states cover wind damage. However, in states like Texas, where wind damage to homes is a frequent danger in high-risk areas, windstorm insurance may be sold as a separate policy or rider.
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association
To purchase a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) policy, you and your property must meet the following criteria:
- Your home is located in Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio or Willacy County, or Harris County east of Highway 146.
- At least one company that provides windstorm insurance in these areas has denied you coverage.
- Your home meets building codes as certified by the Texas Department of Insurance
- You must provide proof of flood insurance coverage if your home is located in flood zones V, VE or V1-30; was built or altered on or after Sept. 1, 2009; and you're eligible to obtain flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
- Your home meets all other TWIA underwriting requirements, which include maintaining the structure in good condition.
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association coverages
While windstorm insurance coverage from a private insurer may vary from county to county, TWIA policies are consistent across its coverage area. They include:
- Dwelling: Covers the structure of a home. It also covers external structures, like a detached garage, which have a 10% limit of the dwelling limit. The maximum dwelling limit is $1,773,000.
- Contents: This coverage reimburses you for furniture, appliances and other covered belongings damaged by wind. The maximum limit is $374,000.
- ALE: If your home is unlivable due to windstorm damage, this coverage takes care of additional living expenses, such as a hotel room.
- Debris removal: This pays for removal of debris after windstorm-related cleanup on your property.
- Increased Cost of Construction (ICC): Covers additional costs stemming from compliance with current local and state building codes.
TWIA insurance may be purchased at either actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost for both dwelling and contents coverage. ACV coverage factors current depreciation into your claim payout. Replacement cost pays out at the full value of your dwelling and belongings.
Replacement cost is a better value in the long run, even though it usually costs more than ACV coverage. With ACV coverage, you will probably receive a much lower payout to put towards repairs after a windstorm.
If your dwelling coverage limit is at least 80% of your home's rebuild cost, your TWIA dwelling coverage is automatically at replacement cost.
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association rates
The average annual premium of a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policy is around $1,650. Your premium may vary based on the amount of insurance you choose, your deductible amount and the type of construction. You can choose a deductible from $500 to 5% of the policy's coverage level.
Filing a claim through TWIA
Before filing a claim, it's imperative that you act quickly after you notice the damage. Document the damage by taking pictures and videos, and make any temporary repairs in order to protect your house from additional damage. Insurers may reimburse you for these repairs, so save all of the receipts. You shouldn't make any permanent repairs until a TWIA adjuster has given approval to make the repairs.
Before filing a claim, you should review your TWIA policy to find out what is and isn't covered. Once you call TWIA to report the claim, you will need your TWIA policy number, details of what caused the damage, and the pictures and videos you took of the damage.
Alternative windstorm insurance options
Some insurers in Texas just provide windstorm insurance. They usually have stricter criteria for underwriting than TWIA, but their rates may be lower. Companies that offer windstorm insurance include:
- Weston Insurance Company
- Maison Insurance Company
- Southern Vanguard Insurance Company
- Lighthouse Property Insurance Corporation
If you don't qualify for any of the above windstorm insurance options, look into the Texas FAIR Plan Association. The FAIR Plan is a state-sponsored insurance program. You may have to get both a FAIR Plan and a TWIA policy if you live in a TWIA coverage area and qualify for the FAIR plan. The Texas FAIR Plan Association usually offers basic coverage unlike the private market, which provides comprehensive policies.
Do you need windstorm insurance?
If you own a home in Texas but don't have a mortgage, the lender requirement for windstorm insurance is a non-issue. Even so, if you own your home, you probably want to protect your investment. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about one in 40 insured homes files a claim related to wind or hail damage each year.
Keep in mind that these statistics represent the average. If you live on the Texas coast or in Tornado Alley that runs from Central to Northern Texas, you have a higher chance of filing a claim.
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