A Groves man didn't wait for the letter he knew was coming - a notice from State Farm that the insurer wasn't going to renew his homeowner's policy.
Dale Farris got busy finding another insurer before the number of companies offering general liability and fire coverage dwindled further.
State Farm said it will not renew regular homeowner policies - aside from windstorm coverage - affecting 11,000 customers in parts of Orange, Jefferson, Chambers, Galveston and Brazoria counties after May 1.
"I'm not surprised at the non-renewal," Farris said in front of the Marion Street home where he has lived for more than 20 years.
State Farm is the largest
homeowner insurer in Texas. Company spokesman Kevin Davis said State Farm's decision doesn't affect properties in counties south of Brazoria and doesn't affect every client even in the counties where the 11,000 are being cut.
"We must strike a balance between our exposure and our ability to pay claims," Davis said.
Alex Winslow, executive director of the consumer advocacy group Texas Watch, which specializes in insurance issues, said State Farm is not repaying longtime customer loyalty with its action.
"The company expects loyalty, but gives none in return," he said.
Davis said State Farm homeowner policy customers still can have their motor vehicles insured through the company. Farris said it is unlikely customers would remain because other insurers usually offer discounts for policies that bundle home and car coverage.
Farris' little neighborhood lies between the Huntsman Port Neches chemical plant and a school in the Port Neches-Groves school district.
The Gulf of Mexico is a 45-minute drive from his home and the Neches River is about three miles to the east, he said.
"At first, the decision was not to write new policies," Farris said, referring to many insurers offering policies in coastal areas. "That had an impact on folks trying to close on homes."
He was referring to the completion of the homebuying process, which includes showing the mortgage provider and lender there is adequate insurance on the property in case of catastrophe like a hurricane.
Farris, obviously, was not in that group.
However, beginning May 1, State Farm will not renew policies for the 11,000 it is cutting off. That means Farris, in April 2013, would not have been able to renew his.
So, he jumped ship a year early, beating the customers who will have to go elsewhere after May 1 by a few months.
His decision was rooted in his fear that other companies would begin to pull out as well or not write a policy for a new customer, which he was going to be.
Farris said his house suffered only "minor damage" in Hurricanes Rita and Ike. He credits the levee protecting Port Arthur with keeping his home from flooding during Ike in 2008.
After Hurricane Rita in 2005, many insurers announced they were no longer providing windstorm insurance as part of their overall coverage. Then, some insurers announced they were no longer providing policies in areas they considered too close to the Gulf.
Farris noted that State Farm's decision to withdraw coverage would affect the company's agent the most.
"We talked to our agent," Farris said. "He's a good agent. This wasn't the agent's decision. The agent is trying to represent the company and the company looks to him for that. Relationships that used to be built - person to person - are not important any more."
A Texas Department of Insurance spokesman said State Farm has notified the agency of its intent to non-renew a portion of its coastal Texas business over the next 12 months.
"TDI is working with State Farm to ensure that its actions are not in violation of state law," said department spokesman Jerry Hagins in an email.
However, Hagins did not explain what possible violations of law could occur.