On September 8, 2008, Governor Rick Perry issued a proclamation declaring that Hurricane Ike poses a threat of imminent disaster along the Texas Coast and in numerous counties including Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Waller, Walker, and Wharton counties beginning September 7, 2008 and continuing, directing that all necessary measures both public and private as authorized under §418.017 of the Texas Government Code be implemented to meet that threat. The proclamation also states that, as provided in §418.016 of the Texas Government Code, all rules and regulations that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to this threat are suspended for the duration of the disaster. On September 12, 2008, Governor Rick Perry issued an amendment to his September 7, 2008 proclamation, declaring that additional counties including Grimes, Houston, Madison, Rusk, and Washington counties are under imminent threat of disaster as a result of Hurricane Ike.
On September 13, 2008, President George Bush issued a major disaster declaration for the state of Texas and ordered federal aid to supplement state, local and tribal recovery efforts in the area struck by Hurricane Ike beginning on September 7, 2008, and continuing. The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the counties of Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, and Washington.
With the potential for devastation resulting from Hurricane Ike, and the possible relocation of hurricane victims and other personal hardships sustained by residents of Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gregg, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Rusk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller, Washington, and Wharton counties, regardless of where those residents have temporarily relocated, the Texas Department of Insurance reminds carriers of their obligations pursuant to Section 559.103 of the Texas Insurance Code. These obligations apply to the writing of personal insurance in this state, including the writing of personal insurance for Texas residents affected by the hurricane.
Section 559.103 requires that an insurer provide reasonable exceptions to the insurer's rates, rating classifications, or underwriting rules for a consumer whose credit information has been directly influenced by a catastrophic illness or injury, by the death of a spouse, child, or parent, by temporary loss of employment, by divorce, or by identity theft upon written request from an applicant for insurance coverage or an insured. In such a case, the insurer may consider only credit information not affected by the event or shall assign a neutral credit score. Section 559.103 also allows an insurer to grant an exception to an applicant for insurance coverage or an insured for an extraordinary event not specifically listed in Section 559.103.
TDI urges insurers to avoid placing additional burdens on victims or evacuees of Hurricane Ike and encourages insurers to accept verbal requests in lieu of written as stated in Section 559.103.
Section 559.103 applies to personal insurance which includes personal automobile, residential property, residential fire and allied lines insurance policies; or a noncommercial insurance policy covering a boat, personal watercraft, snowmobile, or recreational vehicle.
Questions regarding this bulletin may be directed to the Property and Casualty Program at 512-322-2266.
Commissioner of Insurance