Windstorm Insurance in Texas and the TWIA

Windstorm Insurance in Texas and the TWIA

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Windstorm insurance isn't required by the state of Texas, but you may need to purchase coverage to qualify for a mortgage if you live in a high-risk county. Windstorm insurance is also a good consideration if you live near the coast, as most homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage from wind, hail and similar hurricane damages.

You can purchase windstorm insurance from private insurers or from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) if you've been rejected from at least one other company. However, it's important that your house meets windstorm certification requirements, otherwise you may be rejected for coverage.

How does windstorm insurance work in Texas?

Windstorm insurance generally covers direct damage to your home and property that's caused by wind and hail. A wind insurance policy may also provide loss of use coverage, also called additional living expense coverage, if you can't reside in your home for a period of time due to wind or hail damage.

Wind and hail insurance policies have a deductible—the amount of money you'd pay out of pocket for damage before the insurer provides coverage. Your deductible may be either a flat dollar amount or a percentage of the policy's dwelling coverage limit. For example, if you have a 1% deductible and $100,000 of dwelling coverage, your deductible would be $1,000.

While windstorm insurance is sometimes referred to as hurricane insurance, certain hurricane damage may not be covered by a wind insurance policy. For example, windstorm insurance policies don't cover storm surge or flood damage, so you'll need a separate flood insurance policy to provide protection.

Some private insurers offer wind and hail insurance policies, but Texas residents also have access to TWIA coverage if they have been rejected by other insurers. The TWIA is essentially an "insurer of last resort" and is available to help ensure you can purchase coverage for your property and be financially protected, even if you live in a high-risk area.

Do you need windstorm insurance in Texas?

Windstorm insurance, also called wind and hail insurance, isn't required by the state of Texas, but it will likely be required by your mortgage lender if you live in a high-risk area. But even if it's not required, we recommend you consider windstorm insurance if your house is located in a high-risk region, as direct damage from wind, hail and hurricanes are likely excluded from your home insurance policy.

The Texas counties considered at risk for hurricanes and windstorms, and in which TWIA insurance is offered, are concentrated on the Gulf Coast and include:

  • Aransas
  • Brazoria
  • Calhoun
  • Cameron
  • Chambers
  • Harris (east of Highway 146)
  • Galveston
  • Jefferson
  • Kenedy
  • Kleberg
  • Matagorda
  • Nueces
  • Refugio
  • San Patricio
  • Willacy

If you live in a high-risk county and are considering windstorm insurance, we recommend obtaining coverage sooner rather than later. TWIA insurance policies can't be purchased or changed between the time a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico until it has made landfall and cleared the area.

TWIA insurance

The TWIA is a residual market property insurer that offers coverage to Texas homeowners who have been rejected for wind and hail insurance elsewhere. The organization is overseen by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).

While the TWIA doesn't have its own agents, you can generally purchase coverage through the insurer you use for homeowners insurance or another insurance agent in Texas. Though TWIA insurance is meant to ensure all homeowners have access to coverage, you may be rejected for a policy if your house doesn't meet certain windstorm certification requirements.

Who qualifies for TWIA insurance?

TWIA insurance is available to residents of high-risk counties for wind and hurricane damage, which are listed above. However, there are several other criteria you need to meet in order to qualify for Texas Windstorm Insurance Association coverage.

  • You need to have been rejected by at least one insurer that sells windstorm insurance policies in your area. Even if you were only offered a policy that didn't meet your needs and was more limited in coverage than a TWIA policy, that counts as a rejection.
  • If your home was built, altered, remodeled or enlarged after Aug. 31, 2009, and it's located in a flood zone that starts with a V, you need a flood insurance policy in place as well. You need to provide proof of flood insurance coverage before you can purchase a TWIA policy.
  • Your house must be certified by the TDI or TWIA as compliant with windstorm building codes. Once your house is inspected, which should happen during construction, you'll receive a certificate of compliance, either WPI-8 or WPI-8-C. If any alterations or repairs are made to your house, they need to be compliant with the TWIA requirements as well.
  • Your home should be well-maintained. That means it can't have unrepaired damage or issues that could be considered hazardous.

What does TWIA insurance cover?

TWIA windstorm insurance covers damage from wind and hail, but no other perils. A policy can provide coverage for your residence, personal property and certain items on your property, such as a fence or swimming pool. TWIA policies can include the following forms of coverage, depending on your needs:

How it Works
DwellingCovers the structure of your home against wind and hail damage. If you have a garage, shed or other detached structure, it will be covered for up to 10% of your dwelling coverage limit. The maximum dwelling coverage limit is currently $1,773,000.
ContentsCovers property that's not physically attached to your house, such as furniture, appliances and clothing. Contents coverage also covers any improvements, additions or alterations that have been made to your house. The maximum contents coverage limit is currently $374,000.
Increased Cost of Construction (ICC)Covers additional costs related to complying with current building requirements and laws in your area if your house was damaged. So if local building ordinances have changed since your house was constructed and it's damaged by a windstorm, ICC coverage would pay for any extra costs to ensure repairs are compliant with current regulations.
Additional Living ExpensesIf you're unable to live in your home for a period of time due to wind or hail damage, this covers certain costs such as a hotel room and additional commute expenses so you can maintain your standard of living. However, it does not cover these expenses if you've been evacuated, your utilities have been disconnected, roads are damaged or closed or there are other infrastructure issues common to hurricanes and windstorms. Additional living expenses coverage has a limit equal to 20% of your dwelling coverage.
Debris RemovalIf a windstorm brings debris onto your property, such as fallen trees or garbage, your policy can cover costs associated with getting rid of the debris.

Certain types of property are specifically excluded from TWIA policies, such as:

  • Cloth awnings
  • Storm doors
  • Greenhouses and metal screen enclosures
  • Any buildings that are partially or wholly over water
  • Satellite dishes and antennas
  • Vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles
  • Engine-powered lawnmowers
  • Boats

Some of these items can be insured, but they would need to be specifically added to your policy and meet certain requirements.

With TWIA insurance, you can either get an actual cash value or replacement value policy, and this option is available for both your dwelling and contents coverages. We recommend purchasing a replacement cost policy if possible, as you'll receive the full dollar amount needed to replace damaged property if you make a claim. An actual cash value policy, on the other hand, takes depreciation of the property into account, so your payout will be lower for the same damages.

If your dwelling coverage is at least 80% of the estimated cost to rebuild your house, TWIA considers the windstorm policy to be a replacement cost policy. But if your dwelling coverage is lower than 80% of the cost to build your home, depreciation will be taken into account if you file a claim.

TWIA wind insurance policies also come with a deductible, which you would pay out of pocket before the policy pays for repairs. If you select a larger deductible, your premiums will be lower, as you pay for a larger amount of the damage yourself. You can choose a TWIA insurance deductible of:

  • $100
  • $250
  • 1%
  • 1.5%
  • 2%
  • 2.5%
  • 3%
  • 4%
  • 5%

TWIA windstorm insurance rates

The average cost of windstorm insurance from the TWIA is $1,587 per year, but you may be eligible for lower rates depending on where your house is located, your home's building code compliance and the size of your deductible.

When requesting a windstorm insurance quote from any insurer, you should know if your house meets windstorm resistant construction standards or the higher International Residential Building Code standards. The standards have different categories, such as meeting the standard for Seaward properties or Inland I properties. If your home meets these qualifications, your wind insurance rates may be significantly lower.

For example, the cost of TWIA dwelling coverage for a house that is located in an Inland I area and meets the corresponding International Residential Code standards would be discounted by 26% (as it would receive a 26% credit).

Filing a TWIA insurance claim

If you have a TWIA policy and need to file a claim, then it's important to do so quickly after your property has been damaged. You have just one year from the time of wind or hail damage to file a windstorm coverage claim, and two years to file an ICC coverage claim. A TWIA claim can be filed online, by phone or by contacting your insurance agent. Make sure to have your windstorm insurance policy number, contact information, and details of the damage on hand in order to file the claim.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when your property's been damaged.

  • Document all property damage you can find with pictures and video, particularly before removing or covering any damaged items. Don't throw away any damaged property before it's been reviewed by a TWIA adjuster.
  • Make any necessary temporary repairs, such as drying wet areas, boarding up broken windows, covering openings with a tarp and halting leaks. If you need to buy any items to make these sorts of temporary repairs, save your receipts. The expenses are generally covered by your TWIA coverage.
  • Don't make any permanent repairs, such as asphalt patches or replacing a window, until TWIA has given you approval to do so. If TWIA decides to send an adjuster, they'll want to review the damage fully.

Once you've filed a claim, TWIA will call you to confirm and assign a representative to the claim. Then it has 60 days to reject the claim, accept partial coverage for the claim or accept full coverage for the claim. You can check the claim's status online, through TWIA's claims center, or by phone. If the claim is accepted, it will be paid in about 10 days. Should you want to dispute the claim assessment, you'll need to do so within two years.

TWIA windstorm certification: WPI-8 and WPI-8-C

To purchase TWIA insurance, you'll need a Texas windstorm certificate of compliance for your house—either a WPI-8 or WPI-8-C form. TDI determines and issues windstorm certification documents, confirming that your house meets the state's windstorm requirements.

Windstorm insurance inspections can only be made by TDI during construction, so if you're purchasing a home, you should ask the previous owners for a copy of their certificate. You may also be able to locate an existing certificate by contacting the TWIA or searching for a WPI-8 on the TDI's website.

If you're planning construction on your property, we recommend that you obtain a TDI windstorm certificate, as it gives you the flexibility of purchasing TWIA insurance if you need to do so. You would request an inspection by a TDI inspector or TDI-appointed engineer through your contractor for any of the following types of construction:

  • Building new structures
  • Additions, enlargements, renovations or other alterations to existing structures
  • Re-roofing
  • Permanent repairs to existing structures

An inspection is free, and given that your house is ineligible for TWIA coverage if not certified, we strongly recommend you ensure all construction is compliant with TWIA requirements. Compliance certificates aren't necessarily required by other insurers, but the TWIA exists to provide coverage if you're rejected elsewhere at some point, so getting a certificate gives you more options as a homeowner.

Certification can improve the resale value of your house if you choose to sell in the future, as other owners would similarly be disqualified from TWIA coverage without a certificate.

Windstorm insurance companies in Texas

In addition to the TWIA, a number of companies in Texas offer windstorm insurance to coastal homeowners. If you're unable to get wind and hail insurance from your homeowners insurance company, you may want to compare quotes from some of the following insurers as alternatives to the TWIA.

  • Aegis Security Insurance Company
  • Anchor Specialty Insurance Company
  • Cypress Texas Insurance Company
  • Maison Insurance Company
  • Ocean Harbor Casualty Insurance Company
  • Safepoint Insurance Company
  • Southern Vanguard Insurance Company
  • Spinnaker Insurance Company
  • State National Insurance Company Inc.
  • United Property & Casualty Insurance
  • USAA
  • Wellington Insurance Group
  • Weston Insurance Company
  • The Woodlands Insurance Company
  • Texas FAIR Plan (only if you don't qualify for TWIA)

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.