Tag: Windstorm

Lawmakers from Hurricane Hit Communities Enabled and Voted for the Insurance Bill

Texas Lawmakers From Some of the Hardest Hit Communities Voted For House Bill 1774

As the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey continues to worsen in the heavily impacted areas, local heroes have emerged.  The long list of first responders, civic leaders, and volunteers include Aransas County Emergency Management, Texas Task Forces for Search and Rescue, numerous departments of public safety (DPS), and scores of local fire and police departments. Thousands of local citizens have donated boats and time to perform impromptu rescue services and over 3,000 local search and rescue operations have been completed.  True leadership is emerging – Constables are riding along with their men and women and personally carrying out these rescue missions.  Even Houston Texans star J.J. Watt has waded in, personally donating $100,000.00 and setting up a donation website.

While we celebrate these first responders and heroes in our communities, we also need to be mindful of how poor leadership can have devastating impacts on damaged communities, and there are glaring examples of that as well.

The powerful, foreign insurance lobby used local Texas legislators, lobbyists, and downtown lawyers to pass House Bill 1774, which creates new challenges for Texas families, small businesses, churches, and property owners.  This part could not be made up – the law takes effect this Friday, September 1, 2017.  The insurance companies and financial institutions behind this damaging new law are based far away from Texas and its impacted communities. Many are based on Wall Street, in Massachusetts, and as distant as London, Zurich, and Tokyo.  But these foreign insurance carriers could not pass the laws themselves, they needed local Texas enablers willing to push the legislation forward, putting foreign interests above the well-being of Texans and our communities.

Galveston, Dickinson, League City, and other local communities fighting through this natural disaster have their local Representative, Greg Bonnen, to thank if their insurance carriers do not fully and promptly pay their storm claims.  Bonnen authored and pushed this anti-Texan legislation through. Harvey-impacted citizens in Matagorda, Lake Jackson, Angleton, and Brazoria can ask Dennis Bonnen why he sponsored House Bill 1774.  Look to see whether your own local Representative sponsored this legislation, but be prepared to be disappointed – there were over 65 Texas sponsors.

Rockport and Corpus Christi remain devastated by this Category 4 Hurricane, and what benefit to Texans could Corpus Christi and Rockport State Representative Geanie Morrison have possibly identified when she co-sponsored this insurance bill, making it much harder for her own constituents to hold an insurance company accountable for unlawful behavior. Those in West Houston should closely analyze whose interests Representative Dwayne Bohac had in mind when he sponsored the insurers’ windstorm bill. In Friendswood, Texas Senator Larry Taylor carried the water for the conglomerate foreign insurance carriers as he sponsored the Senate version of the bill.  Houston Senator Paul Bettencourt did the same.  Numerous other Texas State Representatives and State Senators failed to stand up to the out-of-state insurance lobby.  Their communications teams will likely laud their civic participation in helping clean up after Hurricane Harvey, despite their detrimental work authoring, sponsoring, and voting for House Bill 1774 instead of look after the property rights of Texas families and businesses.

Texas Lawmakers Picked Big Foreign Insurers’ Money Over Texans’ Property Rights

As citizen-heroes continue to pour in to help their neighbors all along southeast Texas, it is important to pay tribute to what makes Texas truly great – courage, even in adverse times, and a willingness to fight for what is right.   It is also important to identify what Texas legislators voted to benefit foreign insurance and financial institution interests, rather than their own neighbors, friends, and family members.

bexar county

Bexar County Commercial Property Damage Lawsuit

Our client, a local hotel owner, was forced to file a lawsuit against The Cincinnati Indemnity Company (Cincinnati) after its commercial property damage insurance claim was wrongfully denied under Texas law.

April 12, 2015 Wind and Rainstorm

A severe windstorm swept across Bexar County on April 12, 2015, causing damage to our client’s hotel, including the roof, exteriors, and interiors of the property. Upon realizing the damage, our client immediately filed a claim with Cincinnati to recover for the damages.

In response to the claim, Cincinnati assigned representatives, adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file that were inadequately and/or improperly trained. Specifically, Cincinnati assigned an internal representative that failed to perform a thorough investigation of the property and the damage. The internal representative did not prepare any estimates or scopes of the damage, and instead retained a preferred vendor to visit the property who was not qualified to evaluate this type of claim. The plaintiff submitted its own estimate of the damage, but the internal representative refused to acknowledge it. Because of the haphazard inspection, misrepresentations, and inadequate investigation, the windstorm property damage insurance claim was denied.

The Insurance Carrier Violated the Texas Insurance Code

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failure to promptly provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim, and refusal to pay a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation, among others.

Texas Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers

If your commercial insurance carrier has denied, delayed, underpaid, or disputed a Texas commercial property damage claim, you need an experienced team of local commercial property insurance lawyers to help you get the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Raizner Slania have extensive experience helping policyholders obtain their rightful payments from insurance companies. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Corruption Inside Commercial Property Insurance

Wind Damage After Houston February 2016 Windstorm

If you live and/or work in Houston, you might have experienced wind damage from the February 23rd windstorm. The storm knocked out electricity for over 150,000 residents, uprooted trees, and caused severe damage. Not unlike this particular storm, half of all severe weather reports concern damaging winds, so it’s important to understand what types of damage your business might sustain from wind damage and how to file a claim.

Types of Wind Damage

Wind can easily pick up small pieces of debris and hurl them at nearby buildings. This can cause broken windows, damage to the exterior walls, and roof damage. Trees, branches, and power lines can be uprooted and broken, causing them to land on nearby buildings. Damage stemming from flying debris impact can range from small dents or fractures to complete holes in a roof. Roof damage can also be caused by the wind itself. Wind can easily blow shingles or tiles off a roof, it can cause hidden damage from wind lift destroying or loosening fasteners in the roof system, and wind can even tear off the roof entirely.

Preparing for a Windstorm

Always pay attention to the weather in your area. If the forecast predicts a windstorm is headed your way, and it is safe to do so, clear the area around your business of any small to medium sized objects like potted plants or chairs to ensure they are not picked up by the windstorm and thrown into your property. Also make sure the windows and doors are securely locked. Have a good maintenance program for your roof and building, and conduct regular inspections and any needed repairs.

After the Storm

If, despite your best efforts, your building suffers wind damage, you might be unsure how to proceed. You should assess the damage to your property by retaining a professional to inspect it. While some damage is obvious, like a tree falling on your roof, some damage might be subtler, like missing shingles or a compromised flat commercial roof. Sometimes a policyholder won’t even realize damage has occurred until months later, when new leaks become noticeable. Immediately report your wind damage claim to your insurance carrier, and it will send an adjuster to inspect the damage.

Houston Windstorm Damage Claims Attorneys

In many cases, windstorm insurance companies violate contracts with policyholders when they deny or delay valid wind damage insurance claims. Unfair denials, extreme delays, and major under-valuations can constitute insurance bad faith, enabling the recovery of other additional damages that you suffered because of bad faith conduct. If you have had your windstorm damage claims denied, delayed, or underpaid, the attorneys at Raizner Slania can help you get the compensation you deserve.



Mount Pleasant Business Insurance Claim Denial Lawsuit

Our client, a Mt. Pleasant hotel owner and operator, has filed an insurance claim denial suit against GuideOne National Insurance Claims and Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, in The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Texarkana Division. The lawsuit stems from claims the local business filed against its insurance companies for damages sustained in a hail storm, which were not properly paid according to Texas law.

A March 28, 2014 hail storm caused serious damage to the commercial property, including the roof, windows, exterior, interior, ceilings, furnishings, and more. A subsequent October 12, 2014 windstorm further damaged the property. Immediately following each weather event, our client filed its claims pursuant to its GuideOne insurance policy and its Underwriters policy.

GuideOne, a foreign company, assigned James Stafford to handle its insurance adjustment. Underwriters, a foreign company, assigned Adam Brenner to handle its insurance adjustment. The insured contends that no competent consultants or adjusters were assigned to objectively evaluate the damage. The only adjusters assigned to evaluate the insurance claims prepared damages estimates and the insurers agreed to cover the losses. This assertion, however, later turned out to be a misrepresentation.

The complaint alleges that GuideOne, Underwriters, and the individual adjusters wrongfully denied and underpaid our client’s’ claims for building repairs under the policy and that the adjusters wrongly misrepresented that some damages and losses were not covered under the policies when they were. The adjusters and insurers delayed the claims process and the insurance providers refused to issue further payments under the policy, which our client claims has caused them serious financial harm.

Insurance Claim Denial Lawyers Seek Damages For Bad Faith

Our local business 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 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).


Seneca Insurance Suit Filed By Tyler Business Owner

Our client, the owner of a Tyler events and concert facility, has filed suit against Seneca Insurance Company, Inc., a third-party adjusting firm, Vericlaim, Inc., and its adjuster in Dallas County District Court. The lawsuit stems from a claim the company filed against its insurance for damages sustained in wind and hailstorms, which our client’s claims were wrongfully denied and underpaid.

According to the complaint, there were severe wind and hailstorms on April 6, 2104 and April 18, 2015, which caused serious damage to the commercial property, including the roof, windows, HVAC, exterior, interior, ceilings, furnishings, and more. Right after the storm, our client filed the claim pursuant to its insurance policy with Seneca Insurance.

Seneca Insurance Engaging in Bad Faith Practices

Seneca, a foreign insurer, assigned Vericlaim, a Dallas company, 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 adjuster refused to provide the report or findings of his investigation or that of his retained engineer, failed to respond to emails or provide updates, and generally prolonged the claims resolution. The adjuster Vericlaim assigned ultimately misrepresented that there was no hail damage to the property and the claim was denied.

The situation was so bad that our client hired its own consultants and representatives to prepare its own estimates, all of which Seneca ignored. Beyond the extensive damage to the special purpose building itself, the delays and misconduct by Seneca and its adjusters has resulted in lost revenue from cancelled and delayed concerts and other events.

Wrongful Denial Of Commercial Property Damage Claims

The complaint alleges that Seneca Insurance, Vericlaim, and the individual adjuster wrongfully denied and underpaid our clients’ 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. The commercial property damage insurance claims process was delayed and Seneca Insurance refused to issue further payments under its policies, which our client claims has caused serious financial harm.

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, mostly involving the failure of the opposing parties to reasonably settle their claims. The 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. The company also alleges breach of contract, breach of duty of bad faith and fair dealing, violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA), and fraud. In all, our client is asking for in excess of $1 million in damages for their losses, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees.

Windstorm Damage

Wind Insurance Dispute Filed for Baptist Church

A storm hit Houston, Texas on August 16, 2013, which creased extensive hail and windstorms in the area. One building that suffered significant damage was a Baptist Church. After the insured filed a valid claim for windstorm damage under its property insurance, it was unable to recover what it was due. Due to this failure to timely and appropriately pay the insurance claim, the church has filed suit against Underwriters at Lloyd’s London, Gulf Coast Adjustment Service of Houston, Inc. and its adjusters in Harris County District Court.

The church was badly damaged by hail, including its roof, HVAC, windows, exterior, interior, ceilings, furnishings, and more. After the storm, the church filed a claim under its policy with Underwriters, asking the insurer to cover all damages caused by the storm.

Foreign Surplus Lines Insurance Companies Not Admitted In Texas

Underwriters assigned adjusters, consultants, and agents to the claim that were inadequate and improperly trained to handle this type of property damage claim. Specifically of concern, Underwriters is a foreign surplus lines insurance company that is not admitted in Texas. It assigned Gulf Coast Claims, a Houston insurance adjusting company that falsely advertises itself under the Underwriters name. Gulf Coast Claims then assigned an unqualified adjuster in Florida to assess the Texas church’s damage. The adjuster failed to perform an adequate property investigation, failed to prepare estimates of the wind damage, and ultimately represented that the church had no damage.

Given the failures by Underwriters, Gulf Coast, and their adjuster, the church’s claims were denied, and it was forced to hire its own consultants and representatives to conduct its own assessment of property damages. During this long delay, the church has suffered economically and the structure has had continued physical damage.

As a surplus lines insurer, Underwriters at Lloyds are unregulated by the Texas Department of Insurance and operates with far fewer restrictions than insurers who are compliant with the rules for admitted carriers. In fact, Lloyds writes more commercial insurance premiums than any other insurer in Texas, and alone accounts for nearly one-quarter of all surplus lines insurance premiums written in Texas through 2015.

In its petition, the church alleges various violations of the Texas Insurance Code by all three defendants. It also alleges that the defendants failed to properly explain why they had denied the claim and that they failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the property damage.

Bad Faith Wind Insurance Denial Claims

The church also alleges breach of contract and bad faith on the parts of all defendants. They also allege significant violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA), and Texas fraud laws. The complaint seeks to recover more than $1 million in damages, as well as interest and attorneys’ fees, in addition to punitive damages for bad faith.