Texas bill discourages homeowners from suing insurance companies over weather-related claims

A bill would change provisions in the Texas Insurance Code regarding receiving claims from flooding, hailstorms and hurricanes

BEAUMONT - The Texas House passed a bill weeks ago that would discourage homeowners from suing their insurance companies for claims such as hail, hurricane or flood damage.

Beaumont residents like Carolyn Brown are still waiting for repairs on her home following the devastation of Hurricane Ike.

Other homeowners turned to attorneys like David Starnes to get insurance companies to follow-through in paying for the damages after Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Rita.

"What we found out was in the penalty provisions in the Texas insurance code were a great aid in getting them to pay legitimate claims," Starnes said.

House Bill 1774 would take away the 18% penalty against insurance companies that unreasonably deny or delay paying legitimate claims.

"The balance is not only tipped in favor of the insurance companies, it is overwhelmingly tilted in their favor," Starnes said.

The bill would also allow insurance companies to force claims cases into federal courts. According to Starnes, the bill creates loopholes in notice of claim requirements that take away parts regarding legitimate claims.  

The bill also does not create a distinction between bad claims and legitimate claims from homeowners and business owners.

"Businesses, churches, schools, you name it, hospitals, all of them are going to be impacted if they don't get their insurance companies to fairly and timely pay their legitimate claims," Starnes said.

Dade Phelan was one of 91 representatives who voted in favor of the bill.

The bill has yet to be approved by the Senate. If approved, it would take effect September 1.

© 2017 KBMT-TV


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