Hurricane Harvey Insurance Alert: New Texas Insurance Laws Take Effect on September 1st that Could Limit Ability to Recover Property Damages from Insurance Company

 

Even as the remnants of Hurricane Harvey continue to ravage the Texas Gulf Coast, changes to the state’s insurance code set to take effect in just a few days could greatly restrict the ability of individuals and businesses to hold insurers accountable if they fail to fully pay property damage claims related to this catastrophic storm.

To ensure that their rights are not curtailed by the state’s so-called “Hailstorm Bill”, Texas residents who sustain wind or other structural damage due to Hurricane Harvey, as well as those likely to sustain property damage, SHOULD PROVIDE WRITTEN or ELECTRONIC NOTIFICATION to their insurance company or insurance agent BEFORE SEPTEMBER 1, 2017.

These changes only apply to wind damage claims, which are governed by Texas state law; flood damage claims are governed by federal law and, therefore, are not affected.

What is the Texas Hailstorm Bill?

Texas HB 1774, aka the Hailstorm Bill, is a “tort reform” measure passed by the 85th Texas Legislature earlier this year that greatly restricts the ability of policyholders to file lawsuits in bad faith insurance disputes stemming from severe nature-related events, including hurricanes, floods, tornados, wind, hailstorms and other natural disasters.

The provisions of the Hailstorm Bill take effect on FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 1, 2017.

Among other things, the new law:

  • Dramatically reduces and eliminates the penalties that insurance companies have to pay for improperly denying and underpaying valid property damage claims arising from hurricanes and other natural disasters.
  • Restricts policyholders’ rights to recover attorneys’ fees and other damages from insurance companies that fail to fully and timely pay for property damages unless they comply with complicated notification and pre-suit demand requirements.
  • Makes it easier for out-of-state insurance companies to remove lawsuits from Texas state courts to federal courts, which could increase the time and costs involved in suing insurance companies for failing to fully and timely pay property damage claims.

Hurricane Harvey wind damage claims made before September 1, 2017, should be subject to current Texas law, which is far more favorable to Texas’ residents and businesses.  Wind damage claims filed on or after September 1st, however, will fall under the new law.

To ensure that your Hurricane Harvey property damage claim is subject to the current Texas insurance code, WRITTEN OR EMAILED NOTIFICATION TO YOUR INSURER OR AGENT MUST BE POSTMARKED OR DATED PRIOR TO SEPTEMBER 1, 2017.

Hurricane Harvey: An Unprecedented Event

Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast around 10:00 p.m. on Friday, August 25th.

The Category 4 storm, the worst hurricane to hit  Texas in more than a decade, took direct aim at the town of Rockport, ripping away roofs, tearing down road signs, and flooding surrounding ranch lands.

By Sunday morning, torrential rains had caused catastrophic flooding throughout Houston.  Residents of the nation’s fourth largest city are even now being forced to flee to their rooftops, as emergency responders struggle to keep up with thousands of rescue calls. City officials have even called on residents with boats and high-water vehicles to assist with rescues.

With the remnants of Harvey currently stalled over south Texas for at least the next two days, the flooding is expected to continue.

“This event is unprecedented and all impacts are unknown and beyond anything experienced. Follow orders from officials to ensure safety,” the National Weather Service wrote on Twitter.

During a Sunday afternoon news conference, Governor Greg Abbott said Texas had activated 3,000 National and State Guard members in response to the disaster.  More than 1,200 FEMA employees have been deployed to the storm zone.

So far, five deaths have been attributed to Hurricane Harvey.

Questions? Contact our Experienced Hurricane Damage Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 or Clicking Here

Our Undefeated Hurricane Property Damage Lawyers have successfully represented thousands of homeowners and business owners across Texas who sustained property damage following hurricanes and other natural disasters.

If you have any questions about your rights as a policyholder or the upcoming changes to the Texas Insurance Code, call our Hurricane Damage Lawyers at 1-888-603-3636 or send us an email by clicking here.

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