My wife and I recently decided to buy our first home together. For the past two years, we’ve been living in a two-bedroom townhouse in Houston’s Montrose neighborhood that I purchased in 2021, when I was still single. It was the perfect bachelor pad, but less than ideal for a couple with two young dogs. After a few weeks of house-hunting, we fell in love with a Craftsman-style bungalow on a quiet street in the Heights, northwest of downtown, with a large kitchen, an old-fashioned front porch, and a fenced-in yard where our dogs could play. We knew we’d have a high mortgage rate and pay high property taxes. What we didn’t anticipate, when the sellers accepted our bid, was a home insurance market that has gone crazy. 

My townhouse was insured through Homesite—a partner of GEICO, where I get my auto insurance—so I started by applying for another policy with them. Denied. Next I tried a comparison website that promised to search more than a hundred insurance companies to find the best deal. It came back with quotes from Experian, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive, but when I followed through with those companies, I got three more denials. My history certainly counted against me: I had filed two claims on my townhouse over the past three years, one for a plumbing issue and one for a leaky window. My home insurance premium had gone up after those claims, as I expected, but it wasn’t canceled.

Finally, an insurance broker found two options for us. Wellington, a Fort Worth–based insurer, offered a policy for $5,773 for the year—more than double the national average of $2,150; the Texas Fair Plan, which the Legislature established in 1995 as an insurer of last resort, offered a plan for $4,382. (The Fair Plan is only available to homeowners who have been turned down by at least two other carriers.) 

My wife and I were disconcerted. Our Heights bungalow was built in 1920, but the plumbing, wiring, and A/C system had all been fully replaced. The previous owners installed a new roof in 2012. The house had never flooded and was several miles outside the 500-year floodplain. I soon learned that I was far from alone: Texas is in the midst of a full-fledged home insurance crisis. Even before the Texas grid failed during Winter Storm Uri, plunging most of the state into the dark in 2021 and resulting in more than half a million insurance claims and total losses of around $10 billion, Texans were already paying some of the highest home insurance premiums in the country. 

Last week I put out a call on X for Texas homeowners with similar experiences to mine. Dozens responded. One Austin homeowner told me that his premium went up 80 percent this year after a 40-percent increase in 2023.  A Houston homeowner was quoted a premium of more than $8,600 on his approximately $1 million house, a 60-percent increase from the previous year. I heard about insurance companies threatening to cancel policies unless homeowners replaced their roofs, or chopped down the trees on their property, or replaced all of their galvanized steel pipes with plastic PEX pipes. 

According to an S&P Global analysis, insurance premiums in Texas jumped 23 percent last year, the highest increase in the country and more than double the national rate increase of 11 percent. Experts told me that the skyrocketing rates are caused by a combination of high inflation, especially in the prices of building supplies, and Texas’s recent series of natural disasters. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, between 1980 and 2023 Texas experienced an average of four natural disasters per year with damages in excess of $1 billion—droughts, floods, storms, tornadoes, wildfires, and winter storms. In recent years, such disasters have become much more frequent. Between 2019 and 2023 Texas suffered an average of eleven billion-dollar events each year, with sixteen in 2023 alone. 

Leash Yu, the managing director of Houston-based insurance broker Higginbotham, said the last two years have been the hardest of his two-decade career. “I’m handling clients who have been non-renewed or getting thirty-percent rate increases year after year,” he told me. “With the people who are buying houses, it’s really difficult to find carriers that want to insure them.” Several of Yu’s clients have been unable to purchase homes because of stratospheric insurance premiums. One homeowner got quoted a $50,000 premium on a $3 million house, with a deductible of $250,000. (He backed out of the sale.) “It’s incredibly insane, but that’s just the nature of the market right now,” Yu said. 

National media coverage of rising home insurance rates has focused on Florida and California, where rates are also spiking, and where the high risk of natural disasters has driven some insurers out of the market. According to a recent analysis from, Florida has the highest average premium in the country, at $5,770. But Californians pay just $1,403 per year, while Texans pay $4,039. The states with the highest premiums are clustered in Tornado Alley—Oklahomans pay a whopping $4,675—and the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast. (Want to save money on your insurance? Move to Vermont, where the average homeowner pays just $799.)

Texans pay so much more than Californians thanks in part to our business-friendly regulatory environment. Unlike California, where insurance companies must seek state approval before raising rates, Texas is a so-called “file-and-use” state. Here, insurance companies can implement a rate hike first and seek state approval later—a variation on the principle that it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. The Texas agency charged with approving rates is the Department of Insurance. In 1991 the Legislature created a separate office, the Public Insurance Counsel, to represent the interests of consumers and maintain a “balanced marketplace.” The counsel’s office reviews rate requests to determine if the proposed increase is justified by the insurance company’s loss rate and risk analysis. It has the ability to file formal objections to unreasonable rates, but in practice it works mainly behind the scenes. The current public counsel, a Governor Greg Abbott appointee named David Bolduc, told me his office challenges less than half of the approximately 260 proposed increases filed by insurance companies each year—almost always in a private negotiation rather than a public confrontation. 

“The vast majority of the time, things get ironed out between us, the Department of Insurance, and the insurers, and they change their filings,” Bolduc said. “There’s not a lot of straight-up, ‘We don’t like this and therefore you can’t have it.’ ” I asked Bolduc why home insurance rates were going up so fast. “I think it’s more about economics than about bad things happening,” he said. “The cost of everything is up a lot. Insurers, even the ones that are doing well, are not doing well on their property and casualty stuff.” 

What about global warming, which climate scientists say is producing more extreme weather events? “I know there are people who think that,” Bolduc replied. “I’m not saying that dismissively, I’m just not smart enough to have an opinion. I can say that there have been a lot of weather events.”

State officials may not acknowledge global warming, but most everyone else sees the writing on the wall. Karen Collins, vice president of property and environmental for the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, the industry’s main trade association, told me that insurance companies have been losing money on their Texas policies for years. According to her, between 2018 and 2022 Texas insurers paid out $1.07 for every $1 in premiums they collected. “The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters in recent years has caused record-breaking natural disaster losses,” she said. “The number one driver of property losses is the rapid population growth and increased asset values in areas that are catastrophe-prone, such as the wildland-urban interface and the hurricane-prone coastline.” 

With forecasts calling for a potentially record-setting Atlantic hurricane season, Texas is unlikely to see a respite from natural disasters—or rising home insurance premiums—anytime soon. “There’s a lot of people who say, well, the market can solve everything,” said Houston meteorologist Matt Lanza, managing editor of the popular website Space City Weather. “Well, the market is telling us that climate change is an issue, because insurers are scared of what the future holds. You’re going to have these storms every year.”

When the state last faced an insurance crisis, leaders mobilized quickly to respond to it. In 2001, dozens of homeowners across the state sued Farmers Insurance Group for failing to remediate mold. To pay for the cost of the lawsuits and insurance payouts, Farmers, which controlled around 20 percent of the market, hiked its rates and threatened to pull out of Texas entirely. Worried that homeowners would be unable to find home insurance, the Legislature fast-tracked the Texas Fair Plan, the state-created insurer of last resort, which had been authorized in 1995 but didn’t issue its first policy until 2002. It passed an insurance reform bill allowing carriers to set their own deductibles and exclusions rather than writing a standardized policy, which made it harder for consumers to know what they’re covered for. (The bill also created the “file-and-use” policy that allows companies to raise rates without prior approval.) 

State leaders have done little to address the current crisis, although Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick has asked the Texas Senate’s Business and Commerce Committee to study ways to address the rising cost of insurance ahead of the 2025 session. I asked Bolduc, head of the Office of Public Insurance Counsel, what the homeowners I spoke to should do to bring down their costs. He suggested using the state’s online price comparison tool and working with an insurance broker to shop around for the best rate. “You need to make sure you’re comparing apples and apples,” he said. “There’s a lot of pressure on home insurers to get the cost down for advertising purposes. And one of the ways you do that is to slim down the coverage.” 

My wife and I ultimately chose the Texas Fair Plan, even though it received just two out of five stars on Google reviews. The alternative was Wellington, which has 2.2 stars on Google and was nearly $1,400 more expensive. We’re planning to white-knuckle it for our first year in the new house, then shop around again in 2025. If rates are still high, there’s always Vermont.