Our client, a Houston hotel owner and operator, has filed suit against a London-based insurance carrier, Great Lakes Reinsurance (UK) PLC, a third-party adjusting firm, Brezina Claims, and its adjuster in Harris County District Court. The lawsuit stems from a claim the hotel filed against its insurance for damages sustained in what eventually became two wind and hail storms, which our client claims were not handled properly and in a timely manner.
According to the insurance lawsuit, there was a severe wind and hail storm on April 4, 2012, which caused serious damage to the hotel property, including the roof, windows, HVAC, exterior and interior spaces, including ceilings and furnishings. Right after the storm, our client filed the claim pursuant to its insurance policy with Great Lakes Reinsurance.
There was another storm on December 25, 2012, less than two weeks after Island Suites signed a renewal for their insurance policy, which resulted in further damage to the roof, HVAC, windows, and more. The insured immediately filed a second claim with Great Lakes for that damage.
During the time between each storm, Great Lakes, a foreign company, assigned Brezina Claims to handle the insurance adjustment, and they, in turn assigned an individual adjuster. The insured contends that no competent consultants or adjusters were assigned to objectively evaluate the damage. The only adjuster Brezina did assign showed up only once, on August 13, 2012, to inspect the property; however, he prepared no damage estimates. Subsequently, Brezina and Rayburn told Great Lakes that there was no hail damage to the property and the claim was denied.
When the second storm hit on December 25, 2012, the second claim was made by the hotel owner, after which Brezina and its adjuster “grossly underestimated” the extent and value of the property damage from that storm. The situation was so bad that our client hired its own consultants and adjusters to prepare its own estimates, all of which Great Lakes ignored.
The complaint alleges that Great Lakes, Brezina, and the individual adjuster wrongfully denied and underpaid our client’s’ claims for property repairs under the policy and that the adjuster wrongly misrepresented that some damages and losses were not covered under the policies when they were. All three parties delayed the claims process and Great Lakes refused to issue further payments under the policy, which our client claims has caused them serious financial harm.
Our hotel owner client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, mostly involving the failure to act in a timely manner to initiate an investigation and to reasonably settlement their claims. The insurance lawsuit allegations also include that the other parties acted in bad faith by misrepresenting the insurance policy and by making misleading statements about several aspects of the claim. They also allege breach of contract, breach of duty of bad faith and fair dealing, as well as the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA). In all, our hotel owner client is asking for in excess of $1 million in damages for their losses, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees.