Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Windstorm Inspections
Welcome to A-1 Engineering, Structural Engineers in Austin and Structural Engineers in San Antonio. In an effort to clarify the confusing requirements, rules, etc. of TDI, we have prepared the following article (Updated June 2011). Please call us if you have any questions. Also please visit our TDI Frequently Asked Questions.
If you have a house along or near the Texas coast then you may qualify for get your home insured through the Texas Department of Insurance to cover damages to your property caused by high winds and hail. As a result to the catastrophic property damage caused by hurricane Celia in 1970, the 70th Legislature of Texas created the Texas Catastrophic Insurance Association (currently named the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association http://www.twia.org/Home.aspx ). You can qualify to have the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association insure your home if your home is within the following counties:
Aransas County, Brazoria County, Calhoun County, Cameron County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Jefferson County, Kenedy County, Kleberg County, Matagorda County, Nueces County, Refugio County, San Patricio County and Willancy County
Insurance for Windstorm
In general, this is how the program works. The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association will issue you a homeowners insurance policy to cover your roof and building for damages caused by high winds or hail. The policy does come with a catch! You must pay a premium and the building must meet certain design and construction requirements. The state will agree to insure your home if the building is designed and constructed to withstand the forces due to winds as high as 120 mph. The design wind pressure is lower for homes further away from the coastline. The policy also covers hail damage if the roof is constructed according to the Texas Department of Insurance specifications. The difference between the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and other insurance carriers (State Farm, Progressive, Geico, Famers, etc.) is that the association will typically insure homes within areas that the other carriers will not. Because of the association is the “insurer of last resort”, sometimes their insurance rates are higher but they maybe priceless in the event of the catastrophe.
Who qualifies for the Windstorm Insurance
If you are building a new home, or relocating an existing home (manufactured home) within one of the counties listed above, you will need to apply to receive a Texas Department of Insurance policy. If your home is already within one of these counties and does not have coverage, then you will need to apply for coverage as well. If you are not sure if your property is covered, then you can do a property search on the Texas Department of Insurance website. If you know you have a policy and you are renovating or repairing your roof, walls, foundation, windows or any other structural member of your house, then you will need to have your house inspected to make sure it meets the policy requirements.
One thing to keep in mind is that having a policy through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association does not guarantee coverage. You must maintain the property to retain your coverage and to qualify for coverage in the event of damage. For example, if you build your house today and you get the coverage but some of your connections, windows, roofing, siding or foundation elements are damaged due to normal conditions over the next 20 or more years and you make a claim for damages due to hail or wind as a result of a hurricane or high winds, your claim may be denied since the building did not meet the minimum design and construction requirements. A constant maintenance of the property is very important to retain the coverage.
The important question is “how do I get my house to qualify for the home owners insurance policy”? The straight-forward answer is to get your house inspected by a structural engineer that is appointed by the State to perform inspections on behalf of the Texas Department of Insurance. Regardless if your home is an existing building or is being built, you must get it inspected by a structural engineer or the State to receive and maintain the coverage.