Real estate is the most valuable asset most people will ever possess, and insuring against natural disasters like floods and storms is common sense.

Or so you might think. Two government-mandated programs are in financial straits, with critics asking if they should exist at all.

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association is still kicking the financial can down the road to avoid raising rates because coastal property owners do not want to pay their fair share. Meanwhile, San Antonio-area homeowners are allowing their federal flood insurance to lapse as memories of past floods fade.

When disaster strikes—and we know it will—taxpayers will be left picking up the tab for others’ foolish decisions.

TOMLINSON’S TAKE: Unscrupulous developers will strike back against flood measures

The windstorm association, a quasi-government entity known as TWIA (TWEE-ah), provides coverage to more than 190,000 properties in 15 coastal counties that no private company will insure. That includes 57,433 properties in Galveston, 36,691 in Nueces, 29,524 in Brazoria and 24,311 in Jefferson.

TWIA requires property insurers to contribute to the association to lower the costs for high-risk property owners. But the Legislature also requires the owners to pay their fair share, and lately, they have been getting a considerable discount.

Hurricane Harvey and other storms have drained TWIA’s cash reserves, and the growing severity of hurricanes means premiums need to go up. In December, TWIA’s actuaries determined that TWIA needed to raise premiums 44 percent on residences and 49 percent on businesses.

TWIA’s staff recommended the board begin by raising rates just 5 percent to put the insurer on the path to solvency. But property owners reacted as if TWIA planned to evacuate the Texas coast permanently.

State Rep. Todd Hunter led an angry crowd into the Dec. 10 board meeting in Corpus Christi. They demanded an independent

Making your retirement money last is imperative to enjoying financial security in your later years. Unfortunately, far too many retirees make major mistakes that could leave them at risk of running short of cash. Here are four big errors that could leave you broke.

1. Withdrawing too much too fast from your retirement accounts

To make sure your retirement money doesn’t run short, you can’t afford to drain your account too quickly. Taking too much money out impairs the ability of your money to work for you. When you have too little invested to earn reasonable returns, your accounts will empty out fast.

Sad older man sitting alone at table.

Image source: Getty Images.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, decide on a safe withdrawal strategy that makes sense for you. Experts recommended the 4% rule for years, but with interest rates so low now and life spans getting longer, this approach leaves you at serious risk of running short.

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College instead recommends calculating your withdrawal rate based on tables the IRS prepares to help you figure out required minimum distributions. If you want to simplify things, though, you could always just decide on a lower withdrawal rate, such as taking 3% of your account balance out in the first year of retirement and then adjusting withdrawals to keep pace with inflation each year thereafter.

2. Investing too conservatively (or not conservatively enough)

As a retiree, you need to maintain the appropriate asset allocation. If you invest too conservatively because you’re scared of incurring losses, you could earn very low returns, causing your nest egg to dwindle too fast. On the other hand, if you’re overexposed to potentially volatile stocks, you could experience outsize losses.

To make sure you have the right mix of investments, subtract your age from 110.

If you’re planning for retirement, you may have heard of the 4% rule. It says you can safely withdraw 4% of a retirement portfolio’s balance in the first year of retirement, then adjust the withdrawal for inflation every year after that. The model assumes a steady 50/50 split between stocks and Treasury bonds. Following the 4% rule should mean you’d never fully deplete your portfolio over a 30-year retirement period.


But 2020 might’ve changed all that. Someone retiring today might not be able to expect the same level of returns that the markets provided for the past 150 years. Here’s why.

Unprecedentedly low interest rates

With the economy in distress in March, the Federal Reserve dropped the target Fed funds rate by one percentage point to between 0% and 0.25%. It previously did the same thing during the 2008 financial crisis, and it kept the rate near 0% through 2015. The difference this time is Treasury bill yields were already near their record lows before the Fed’s actions.

Ten-year Treasury bills currently yield about 0.65%. In early February, they yielded 1.5%, a rate previously seen only in the summers of 2012 and 2016. The only other time the 10-year Treasury bill yield fell below 2% was 1941.


Investors and lenders base the price of bonds and debt on Treasury bill yields, which are seen as risk-free since they’re backed by the U.S. government. As a result, interest rates and bond yields have dropped across the board because of the Fed’s decision in