Texas Law Provides Strong Protections for Consumers After Harvey

08/28/2017

The Insurance Council of Texas wants to extend our thoughts and prayers to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey as it continues to impact Texans along the coast and inland areas.

Insurance companies have catastrophe teams ready to enter the affected areas as soon as it is safe, and companies are prepared to handle the claims of homeowners, business owners, and auto owners, as quickly as possible. The vast majority of claims will be resolved without any issues; however, if there are issues with a claim, insurers will work with their customers to try and resolve those differences as soon as practical.

In the event a claim dispute cannot be resolved, property owners are reminded that they have the right to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) by calling TDI’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-252-3439 or going to TDI’s web site at www.tdi.texas.gov

If a consumer seeks legal representation, your rights and remedies under Texas law have not changed despite some assertions to the contrary.

Reform legislation passed in the last legislative session (HB 1774) goes into effect on September 1. Contrary to some erroneous reports, the new law does not bar access to the courts nor does it prevent consumers from retaining legal counsel. One of the key changes in the new law is that the insurance company must be given written pre-suit notice of legal action and an opportunity to inspect the property in question. Regardless of the date your claim is filed, your insurer will work with you to see that your claim is handled professionally and promptly. Under the new property litigation law:

  • The claims process for filing a claim for an insurer to handle a claim has not changed.
  • Consumers still have all legal remedies available under the consumer protection laws in the event an insurer engages in bad faith conduct.
  • The Texas Department of Insurance is available to handle any complaints about insurers.
  • The new law does not take away any right to sue and does not diminish any cause of action that a person has against an insurance company. HB 1774 does, however, require notice before a lawsuit is filed.
  • The pre lawsuit notice is effective for all “actions filed on and after the effective date, which is September 1, 2017.” Any lawsuit filed after September 1, 2017, would be governed by the new law.

Texans should contact their insurance companies directly to file claims, work with your adjuster to identify all damages and coverages, and resolve your claim quickly.