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TCCB: ​Calming insurance claims fears

August 29, 2017 | posted by Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops

Topics: In the Press, Breaking News

TCCB: Calming insurance claims fears

Many news outlets are reporting that based on a new law taking effect on Sept. 1, insurance claims must be filled by Thursday to be paid. This is false. While most news articles have been corrected in the body of the article, the headlines remain misleading which causes unnecessary fears for families whose homes are damaged by Hurricane Harvey, according to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB). 

If your property has been damaged it is always wise to report it to insurance as soon as it is practical to do so, but people affected should not fear that their claim will not be paid simply because they file the claim after Sept. 1.Please advise those impacted by the storm that the new law does not affect the claims process. Instead, it affects only the lawsuits that sometimes follow the claims process. Furthermore, it does not create a new deadline for action by policyholders.

Statement on HB 1774 from Rep. Greg Bonnen, bill author

As Texans suffer from record flooding, certain individuals are attempting to spread false information with an erroneous social media post suggesting that homeowners must submit claims to their insurance company before September 1st.The regular insurance claims process has not changed. Please beware of any individuals (roofers, attorneys, public adjusters, contractors, etc.) claiming to be able to help you “get more money” out of your insurance company. Despite what you may have seen on social media, the legislation affects lawsuits filed after September 1. Most importantly, it prevents property owners from being swindled by a select few unethical roofers, public adjusters, and lawyers.

Over 98% of property claims are paid without litigation. Nevertheless, Texas law provides a high level of protection against insurers that unfairly deny or delay claims. Full damages for unpaid claims, attorney fees, and penalty interest are available to consumers, and an insurer acting fraudulently or in bad faith may also be subject to triple damage payments. This is all true today, and it will be true after HB 1774 goes into effect on September 1.

Additionally, the legislation does not apply to the National Flood Insurance program or the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Much of the property damage in our area will likely be under policies issued through the National Flood Insurance Program, which is a federal program.

The legislation was passed in response to a growing trend around the state of lawsuits being filed without pre-suit notice, in some instances before an insurance claim had even been filed, and often without the property owner knowing they had even signed a contract with an attorney, much less that a lawsuit had been filed on their behalf. The legislation requires an attorney to provide notice to an insurance company that if they do not rectify a problem with a claim within 60 days, then they will be sued.

If you are ready to file a claim on your home contact your insurance agent. To file a flood insurance claim under the NFIP, contact your insurance agent. You can also call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – select option 2 – to learn more about your policy, and be directed to the appropriate claims resource. For a wind claim, contact the Texas Windstorm Insurance Agency at 1-800-788-8247.Safety should be your first priority; filing of claims can wait until it is safe to return to your home and evaluate damage.Do not provide up-front payment to an individual walking your neighborhood offering “faster repairs” or “larger payouts” from an insurance company.If you suspect an insurer is acting in bad faith, reach out to the Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.