TEXAS WILDFIRES CONTINUE TO AFFECT TEXAS INSURERS
According to the Texas Forest Service, since wildfire season began last year, fires have burned almost 3.8 million acres in Texas and destroyed 2,742 homes. 250 of the 254 Texas counties are reporting burn bans:
On September 9th, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issued a major disaster declaration for six Texas counties (Bastrop, Colorado, Houston, Leon, Travis, and Williamson) impacted by wildfires that began in the area on August 30th. Also in September, Gov. Rick Perry renewed his wildfire emergency declaration for the ninth time since it was initially issued on December 21, 2010.
But, on September 23, 2011, TDI released a bulletin denying a petition for determination of catastrophe regarding the Texas Wildfires. The bulletin provided that “a determination of a weather-related catastrophe or major natural disaster for the purpose of claims processing is not warranted at this time. The above-mentioned Petition is hereby denied and all claims resulting directly from the above- mentioned event shall be processed pursuant to the deadlines provided in Texas Insurance Code, Chapter 542, Subchapter B.” That bulletin can be located at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/bulletins/2011/cc39.html.
This TDI ruling is significant because CAT teams working the fires in Texas are not governed by the 30- day time deadlines as are most CAT operations in Texas. Instead, the standard 15-day and 15-business day deadlines apply to fire claims until expressly modified by TDI. We will continue to track these developments and report on them as they change.