Category: Wind Insurance

Brazoria County Windstorm

Brazoria County Windstorm Lawsuit

Our client, a local church, was forced to file a lawsuit against Mid-Century Insurance Company after its commercial property insurance claim was wrongfully denied under Texas law.

January 2015 Windstorm

On January 22, 2015, a windstorm swept across Brazoria County and caused substantial damage to our client’s property. As a result, the roof, exteriors, and interiors of the property suffered damage. Upon finding the damage, our client immediately filed a commercial property insurance claim with Mid-Century to compensate for the damages.

In response to the claim, Mid-Century assigned representatives, adjusters, consultants, and agents to the plaintiff’s file who were inadequately and improperly trained. Specifically, Mid-Century hired a local claims representative who failed to perform a thorough investigation of the claim and refused to acknowledge all of the damages to the property in his report, despite being shown the obvious damages.

Additionally, the local claims representative retained an unlicensed adjuster who is not registered with the Texas Department of Insurance to prepare estimates. Due to the claim representative’s haphazard inspection and the local adjuster’s unlicensed estimates, the plaintiff’s commercial property insurance claim was grossly undervalued. Mid-Century continues to deny payment on the damages they it did accept, which has caused the plaintiff economic impact, worry, distress, and continuing physical damage to the property.

The Insurance Carrier Violated the Texas Insurance Code

Because Mid-Century grossly underpaid our client’s claim, our client was forced to retain an attorney to file a lawsuit for insurance benefits. Our client sites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failure to implement reasonable standards for the investigation of a claim, and delayed payment of a claim, among others.

Houston Windstorm Damage Attorneys

If your commercial insurance carrier has denied, delayed, or disputed your windstorm damage insurance claim, the experienced Houston windstorm damage attorneys at Raizner Slania can help. At Raizner Slania, our experienced property damage lawyers have helped clients throughout the United States whose commercial properties were damaged by violent windstorms. Our consultations are free, and you owe us nothing unless we help you obtain compensation. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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.

Sources:
http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/education/svrwx101/wind/
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/graphicast.php?site=hgx&gc=1

London

McLennan County Hotel Damage Lawsuit

Our client, a limited partnership investment company and commercial property owner, has filed suit against Liberty Mutual, a third-party adjusting firm, Engle, Martin & Associates, Inc., and its adjuster in McLennan County District Court. Our client was forced to file this lawsuit after its insurance claims for damages to its local hotel property sustained in wind and hailstorms were wrongfully denied and underpaid.

Hotel Damage Lawsuit Facts

According to the Hotel Damage Lawsuit complaint, there were severe wind and hailstorms on October 4, 2104, which caused serious damage to the hotel, including the roofs, HVAC, exteriors, interiors, and more. Right after the storm, our client filed a claim under its policy with Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Liberty, a foreign insurer, assigned Engle, Martin & Associates, Inc., a Georgia company, to handle the insurance adjustment, and they, in turn assigned an individual adjuster. Our client alleges that the adjuster failed to perform a thorough investigation of the claim, performed substandard inspections of the property, and prepared a damage estimate that grossly undervalued the destruction of the property. The adjuster also said that the damages were not in fact caused by the hailstorm and windstorm, but instead resulted from prior conditions and wear and tear.

The complaint alleges that Liberty Mutual Insurance, Engle Martin, and the individual adjuster wrongfully denied and underpaid our client’s hotel property damage claims under the policy. Plaintiff was not fully paid under the insurance policy; therefore, it hired its own consultant to independently evaluate the property damage. Plaintiff’s consultant identified substantial damage far beyond that the adjuster estimated. Liberty Mutual still refused to pay. This has caused additional damages to the property, including but not limited to further interior problems and roof damage.

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, a failure to timely commence investigation of the claim, a claim for statutory interest and attorneys’ fees, breach of contract, breach of duty of bad faith and fair dealing, a claim for punitive damages for bad faith, 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.

Hotel Property Damage Claim Lawyers

The excuses insurance companies like Liberty Mutual give for refusing payment are often the same. An insurance company may try to avoid payment or try to limit its payments. Insurance policies are meant to provide property owners coverage and protection when disaster strikes, but insurance providers do not always provide this security when presented with a claim. Our experienced insurance litigation team has handled commercial property damage claims across the country. We are here to help.

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.

GuideOne

In Re GuideOne Mandamus

On August 27, 2015, the Fifth Court of Appeals, Dallas, Texas denied GuideOne National Insurance Company’s petition for writ of mandamus in our bad faith insurance litigation against them. The petition stems from an action in the trial court wherein the insurance company asked the judge to compel an appraisal of our client’s commercial property.

The plaintiff’s property sustained both fire damage and wind and hail damage. GuideOne paid part of the fire damage claim but refused to pay the wind and hail claims. In an attempt to resolve their dispute over the wind and hail damage claims, the parties mediated; however, mediation proved unsuccessful.

Subsequent to the failed mediation, the insurer sought to invoke a portion of its commercial insurance policy provision that provides, “If the Named Insured and the Company fail to agree on the amount of the loss, the Company can demand that the amount of loss be set by appraisal.” The insurer wanted an independent appraisal undertaken to determine the amount of property damage. However, the court found that appraisals of this kind are intended as a pre-suit remedy and must be timely invoked, and that by waiting until after litigation had proceeded through a mediation, GuideOne invoked appraisal too late.

Dissatisfied with the trial court’s ruling, GuideOne sought interlocutory relief in the appellate court system. The Dallas Court of Appeals found that the insurance company had waived appraisal when it waited until after mediation to invoke this right under the policy.

This insurance law ruling by an appellate court is significant because it sets down more precedent for the timeframe within which an insurer will be reasonably allowed to request an appraisal. This ruling appropriately finds in favor of the insured, and protects a consumer’s right against insurance company bad faith practices.

hailstorms

Houston Apartment Complex Owner Sues Lloyds and Vericlaim

Large wind and hail storms are just part of the experience of living in Harris County, Texas. They don’t happen often, but when they do happen and our property suffers damage as a result, we expect that the insurance company we’ve been paying premiums to over the years will come out and help us repair the damage and get things back to where they should be.

One such storm occurred on October 27, 2013. There was lots of wind and hail and damage was widespread all over Harris County, and one company that was especially hard-hit was an apartment complex owned by our client. However, our client did not receive the money they felt they deserved from their insurance, so they have filed suit in Harris County District Court against several carriers, including Lloyd’s of London, Indian Harbour Insurance Company, Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Company, QBE Specialty Insurance Company and Steadfast Insurance Company, as well as their insurance adjusters, Vericlaim.

According to the complaint, the October 27, 2013 wind and hail storm caused a significant amount of damage to their apartment complex, including significant roof and exterior damage, as well as damage to the HVAC and some of the interior portions of the property. When they discovered the damage, our client filed a claim against their insurance for the damage they noticed. In response to the claims, the insurance companies assigned the claim to third-party adjusting firm Vericlaim, which immediately assigned the claim to one of its internal adjusters, who was given decision-making authority over the claim. Vericlaim, it is alleged, assigned unqualified consultants to the claim and in the end conducted what Our client characterizes as an “unreasonable and inadequate investigation.”

Vericlaim and the other consultants denied that there was any wind and hail damage to the roofs, windows, HVAC and other parts of the building, and what little damage they did accept was significantly undervalued. Our client had no choice but to hire its own representative to re-inspect and reevaluate the property and make note of the obvious damage that the adjuster ignored. In addition, Vericlaim and the other consultants misrepresented that some of the damages that they did accept were not covered under the policy, when in fact they were.

To date, nearly two years later, no payments have been issued under the policy because, our client alleges, the claims were wrongfully denied. Thus, the delay has impacted our client’s ability to make repairs to their apartment complex property. Due to all the delays and denials, our client has made numerous allegations of violations of the Texas Insurance Code having to do with the insurance companies’ inability or unwillingness to conduct a timely and thorough inspection and investigation of the claims, as well as their failure to provide a reasonable explanation for denying such claims. They claim that all of the defendants misrepresented what was in the insurance policy, as well as the extent of the damages, and that they breached the contract and acted in bad faith. In addition to actual damages, our client is also seeking punitive damages for bad faith and fraud, as well as statutory interest and attorneys’ fees.