Did you know that flood insurance does not cover wind damage, and that wind and hail insurance does not cover flood/storm surge damage? Be sure you have BOTH flood and windstorm insurance coverage.
Review your plan. If changes to your insurance coverage are needed, plan ahead and don’t wait until the last minute. Most insurance companies cannot offer a windstorm policy when a storm appears in the Gulf of Mexico. Flood coverage requires a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective after you purchase it.
Coastal Building Codes
Homes, schools, and other structures built in coastal areas where hurricanes are likely to hit should be built according to coastal building codes. These are rules enacted by state and local governments and are designed to save lives and reduce property damage.
One example of how to build a structure according to these specialized codes is to use hurricane clips and anchor bolts. Hurricane clips (also known as wind clips or hurricane ties) keep the top of a building attached to its base. Anchor bolts are used to attach structures to concrete, like walls to their foundations.
Following coastal building codes can help keep people safe and reduce the damage caused by hurricanes and other natural disasters. Contact your local city officials for more information regarding building code requirements in your area.
Remember, before beginning any construction please talk to your insurance agent about Certificates of Compliance (WPI-8’s and WPI-8-C’s), which certify that the structure meets windstorm building code requirements to be eligible for windstorm and hail insurance through Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), Certificates of Compliance can be required for buildings constructed, altered, remodeled, enlarged, repaired, or added to on or after January 1, 1988.
Read more about Certificates of Compliance.
Reducing Property Damage Before A Storm
A little preparation can go a long way in the event of a hurricane or other windstorm. You can take these steps now to prevent damage to your home and even save lives.
- Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. NOTE: Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
- Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
- Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed so they are more wind resistant.
- Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
- Reinforce your garage doors; if wind enters a garage it can cause dangerous and expensive structural damage.
- Bring in all outdoor furniture, decorations, garbage cans, and anything else that is not tied down.
TWIA Is Prepared Too
TWIA’s General Manager John Polak: “TWIA’s position of strength has been built upon our commitment to continuous improvement in policyholder service. When you add together our level of funding, improved claims management technology, and a comprehensive catastrophe (CAT) response plan, you get a TWIA that is competent and capable of responding to a catastrophic weather event, regardless of the season.”
In 2015, TWIA’s CAT plan was put to the test during a series of spring storms. By scaling up its professional experienced staff, while leveraging claims best practices, TWIA was able to successfully handle near-record claim volume while maintaining excellent customer satisfaction.
Ensure qualifying repairs, alterations, or new construction have a certificate of compliance (WPI-8-C/WPI-8) to maintain TWIA coverage eligibility.
In order to be eligible for a TWIA policy, applicants and properties must meet the following criteria:
- Properties must be located in the area designated by the Commissioner of Insurance, which currently includes all 14 first-tier coastal counties (Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio and Willacy) and parts of Harris County east of Highway 146;
- Applicants must have been denied coverage by at least one insurer authorized to engage in the business of and writing windstorm and hail coverage in the designated area;
- Properties must be certified by the Texas Department of Insurance (ongoing improvements) or TWIA (completed improvements) as having been built to applicable building codes, with limited exceptions;
- Properties located in flood zones V, VE, or V1-30 that were constructed, altered, remodeled, or enlarged on or after September 1, 2009 and that can obtain flood insurance through the NFIP must provide proof of flood insurance coverage; and
- Properties must meet all other Association underwriting requirements, including maintaining the structure in an insurable condition – in good repair, with no unrepaired damage or hazardous conditions.
Obtaining a Certificate of Compliance (WPI-8 or WPI-8-C)
To obtain a WPI-8 for an ongoing improvement, a property owner should notify TDI prior to beginning repairs or construction. Inspections of ongoing improvements may be performed by a TDI appointed qualified inspector. Some types of repairs may be minor or involve only a small portion of the structure and do not require a WPI-8. TDI’s website provides a list of repairs that do not require an inspection.
A person lacking a WPI-8 for a completed improvement may apply to TWIA for a WPI-8-C. A Texas-licensed engineer may certify that the completed improvement complies with the applicable windstorm building code. The engineer will need to submit certain information to TWIA about the completed improvement in order for TWIA to issue the certificate of compliance (WPI-8-C).
Exceptions to the Windstorm Certification Requirements
Texas law identifies some exceptions for structures lacking WPI-8s. Properties with construction from 1988 to June 9, 2009 that are not certified may still be eligible and are subject to a 15% premium surcharge. Applicants who are non-renewed or cancelled by their private market insurer on or after June 9, 2009, and whose structure is missing a required WPI-8 for construction after that date, may be eligible with a premium based on 110% of the rate charged by the voluntary market for windstorm and hail coverage.
Recover After a Storm
Below are several tips to assist you and your family as you recover from a storm
- As you look to recover after a hurricane, be aware of new safety issues that may arise in your immediate area. From broken glass, contaminated water, leaking gas and downed power lines, it’s important that you stay alert and point local authorities to any major health or safety hazards
- Be sure that you carefully inspect your property to note any downed lines, leaks or damage to your home that may make it unsafe. If this is the case, contact a licensed Texas inspector to check for damage to the structure of your home before entering
- Know how to initiate an insurance claim before you ever need to. Should you suffer damage from a storm, for fastest service call TWIA’s 24-hour claims call center at 800-788-8247, contact your agent, or file a claim on twia.org. If necessary, make minor temporary repairs to protect your property from further loss, keeping receipts for any work completed
- Take plenty of pictures of any and all damage to your property and home. Any immediate repairs or necessary costs should be recorded and provided to your insurance agent for consideration
- Any food that may have come into contact with floodwater should be disposed of. This also applies to food that may have spoiled or become contaminated
- Turn off the electricity to your home if your appliances are plugged in and getting wet
- Make sure to check with local authorities before using any city water in the event it may be contaminated
Studies show that schools are an ideal place for children to learn disaster preparedness skills and that hazard education increases awareness and knowledge of protective behaviors. There have been documented instances where children have used the knowledge they obtained from an educational program to help save lives in their communities.
The information and activities we have provided are targeted to 3rd and 4th grade students and, where possible, we have included references to pertinent areas of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. Potential relevant classroom subjects include English language arts and reading, science, social studies, and technology applications. We’ve also included two Spanish language pages this year.
Educational programs should encourage interaction between parents and children and this year we have two pages specifically for parents, to help them prevent loss of life and property during an emergency. Our sincere hope is that kids will engage with this potentially lifesaving information, take it back home and help it cascade into their communities.
Feel free to download our activity packets and print them for your students.