The Big Hearing in Austin

There is so much to talk about!  In fact, so much, that I’m just going to provide links tonight and save more extensive blogging for the next few days.

1. The Joint Interim Committee to Study Seacoast Territory Insurance held a four hour hearing in Austin today to discuss major reforms of TWIA.  Leading figures were TDI Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman and TWIA chief John Polak.  I testified briefly along with about 30 others. Corpus Christi State Representative Todd Hunter questioned who had invited me (Governor Perry’s office) and stated displeasure with what he regarded as a negative approach in my July op-ed, honoring me with a dramatic reading of that work’s final sentence. Other active legislators involved in the discussions included Craig Eiland and Juan Hinojosa.  Although a consensus on how to proceed was not reached, perhaps all could agree that debate and discussion was vigorous?

2.  If you asked me what the “headline” of the hearing was, it was the consensus among the witnesses that TWIA is really, really broken.  Kitzman, Polak and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel all agree that the organization is not actuarially sound. I fear we may be heading for a “health care” third rail, however, in which all agree that the system is broken but prefer it as second best over all but their favorite competing system.  The idea of a statewide cat risk pool appears to have some traction among some constituencies.

3.  Here are some links to press accounts of the hearing.  Corpus Christi Caller; Texas Tribune; Houston Chronicle (AP).  It’s possible you can watch a video of the hearing by clicking on this link.  My segment is from 2:28 to 2:36.  (You can get it to work on Macs by downloading an old copy of Real Audio from

4.  Last Friday, the Texas Department of Insurance released the Alvarez & Marsal report, a $350,000+ study of ways in which TWIA could be reformed.  This is a document with which all sides in the discussion will need to grapple.

5.  An interesting comparison of the Texas windstorm insurance market with those of other coastal states was produced.  Here’s a link to this informative report.  Again, I’m not sure we want to emulate every feature of these other state systems, but they provide some ideas and norms.

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