(Orange, Texas)

State News

May 31, 2013

Perry: Storm insurance special session possibility

AUSTIN, Texas — Gov. Rick Perry said Friday he may add reshaping the troubled Texas Windstorm Insurance Association to a special legislative session he's already convened on redistricting, but wouldn't yet say for sure whether he'll give lawmakers more to do.

Perry called the Legislature back immediately after its 140-day regular session ended Monday, giving legislators 30 extra days to approve new electoral district voting maps — and any other item of his choosing. He said it was still "a little premature" to be adding items to the agenda, but when asked specifically whether the agency known as TWIA could be one of them, answered "it's certainly possible."

The governor said it was an issue "we've spent a lot of time working on and trying to find a solution to. It's a complex issue as diverse as the state is with the huge exposure that we have along the Gulf Coast."

TWIA is a nonprofit, state-supervised insurer of last resort for people who can't get private property insurance in 14 coastal counties and part of Harris County, which includes Houston.

It is subsidized with mandatory dues from for-profit insurance companies, but has faced serious financial trouble for years. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, there were numerous allegations of collusion between claims adjusters and the association. More than 1,900 policyholders sued the association for failing to pay for legitimate damages.

Perry said he likely won't add items without first working with lawmakers to ensure there's a possibility they will actually pass legislation on them.

"We want to be relatively assured we're going to be successful," he said. "That's not to guarantee success, but there's a host of issues, and I would suggest to you that there's a long list of wants we try to distil down to the things that truly are needed in the state."

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