This is a stressful time for many of our family, friends and neighbors affected by this unprecedented and catastrophic weather event that is Harvey. Our hearts and prayers are with those still going through what surely is an extremely difficult time. The last thing they need is someone screaming at them from high atop a big 18-wheeler that it will be harder to get paid on an insurance claim starting September 1st. This. Is. NOT. TRUE!!
There is a law that passed the Texas legislator (HB 1774) that takes effect September 1st, 2017 that is aimed at curbing the number of frivolous lawsuits filed by attorneys and contractors after catastrophic weather events who claim they can help you get more money from your insurance company. They take advantage of the current system which ultimately means higher insurance premiums for everyone.
The law’s primary purpose is to require a written notice of dispute before a lawsuit is filed. It also makes changes to the requirements for inspections related to a lawsuit, recovering attorney’s fees, and statutory penalty interest.
The new law DOES NOT change the claims process. Policyholders will still file claims through the normal channels. Policyholders are not required to make a claim in writing, although no one should be discouraged from doing so.
If you feel your claim has been unfairly or improperly denied or payment delayed, the law is still on the side of the consumer. Most claims never reach lawsuit status as most are settled through the claims process. However, “If an insurer acts fraudulently or in bad faith, additional remedies, including the recovery of triple damages, are available to Texans. This is true today, and it will be true after the reform legislation HB 1774 goes into effect on September 1, 2017.” – Texans for Lawsuit Reform Press Release, August 28, 2017.
It’s important to note also that most claims and lawsuits that will come out of Harvey will be for flood damage and will be handled through the federal flood insurance program and governed by federal law, not Texas State law. Those that have coverage under the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) will have different rules that apply as well.
There is no new deadline for you to file a claim. The new law doesn’t affect the claims process. Your claim will be handled fairly. And, if it isn’t, your rights as a policyholder aren’t limited.
We hope this clears up some confusion.