What Big Tex Teaches us About Insurance

I love the State Fair of Texas.  There’s nothing like walking through the stock pavilion, watching the sheep dogs work the sheep, and the pig races.  I enjoy wandering around the new car pavilion as I think about what I’d pick for a new vehicle.  Then there are the rides and the cry of barkers tempting people to try their hand at some game to win the giant stuffed animal or some other prize.  There’s plenty of food to savor as well; funnel cake, Fletcher’s corny dogs and some new fried delectable.  And then there’s the icon of the fair, Big Tex.

Since 1952, Big Tex has presided over the State Fair of Texas with a watchful eye, a smile and the drawling “Howdy folks” that welcomed us each year.  He cut a fine figure at 52 feet tall and sporting Justin boots, Dickie jeans, shirt and belt with his 75 gallon cowboy hat.  I took many pictures of my kids standing in front of Big Tex like millions of others.

Last fall, Big Tex succumbed to a fire due to a wire that shorted in his right boot.  It took just 10 minutes for the flames to travel up his “body” as the clothing burned.  All that remained of Big Tex was his hands, his belt buckle and the steel frame of his body.  It was a sad day for many fair goers that felt as if they’d lost a friend.

The good news is the fair will build a bigger better version of Big Tex for this year’s fair.  The bad news is Big Tex was underinsured.  It turns out:

  • The cost to replace Big Tex was estimated at $450,000 to $600,000
  • The fair had him insured for $180,000 to $200,000

The most likely reason for Big Tex being underinsured is that the policy covering him was probably an older policy that had not been reviewed in a long time.  His example has implications for both personal insurance, as well as commercial insurance.

Personal Insurance:  There are two easy comparisons for personal insurance that Big Tex’s lesson can teach us; home insurance and coverage for jewelry and other scheduled items.

  • Home insurance:  Most home policies written in the past 5 or so years have inflation protection built into them.  This means the insured value of the home may change from year to year but that’s designed so the home does not end up underinsured as Big Tex did.  If you have a policy that’s been in place for more than 5 years, or you’re not sure, confirm if you have inflation protection as a part of your policy.
  • Scheduled Items:  Insurers usually require an appraisal that’s no more than 2 years old.  If you have scheduled jewelry and it hasn’t been appraised since gold jumped as it did over the last 5 years, add that on your to-do list.

Commercial Insurance:  For business owners, the issues are clear.

  • Review the coverage on your capital equipment with your agent each year.
  • Determine if you are covered for what it would take to replace that equipment with new equipment.
  • If there’s not enough coverage, have the policy changed.

According to Big Tex’s Facebook post on February, donors have raised over $45,000 to help defray the cost of being underinsured.  For the rest of us it’s incumbent to take the time and review our policies because no one wants to find out they are underinsured after a loss.  Share your comments and questions with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Google + and Facebook pages.  I’d love to hear from you!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

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