Month: February 2018

Port Aransas Hurricane Harvey Claim

Port Aransas Still Rebuilding After Enduring Hurricane Harvey Six Months Ago

Hurricane Harvey came ashore between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor, Texas on August 25, 2017. Port Aransas was devastated by hurricane force winds, storm surges, and relentless rainfall. As a result of Harvey’s arrival, property owners in Port Aransas are still clearing debris and struggling to rebuild. According to the local chamber of commerce, 90% of all buildings in Port Aransas suffered damage from the storm, making restoration and rebuilding complicated and time consuming.

In the months after Hurricane Harvey, Port Aransas has been busy rebuilding, but progress has been incredibly slow. Many of the condos and high-rises that dotted the seashore remain boarded up, and only a fraction of hotels have reopened for business. For a town that relies on tourism, Harvey’s economic impact went far beyond the physical property damage caused by the storm – the financial losses remain ongoing because of income lost during the rebuilding process. Only about 25% of all hotel and motel rooms available in Port Aransas are open for business. For a city that sees approximately five million tourists a year, the lost revenue from Harvey is astronomical. It is projected the city will need three to five years for a complete recovery.

Harvey’s destruction in Port Aransas was absolute. Many buildings, including the police department and courthouse have been considered total losses. This means they will need to be completely torn down and rebuilt. This is time consuming and extremely costly. Harvey caused such complete damage in part because of its hurricane force winds. The National Weather Service clocked winds in Port Aransas at 132 miles per hour with sustained winds up to 110 miles per hour.

These winds tore open many roofs and other structures, allowing rainfall to drench the interiors. For many business owners, the rainfall also destroyed the interior walls, furniture, fixtures, and other interior property items.

Even though the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey seems straightforward, many property owners are fighting with insurance companies over their Hurricane Harvey claims. Although the damage is obvious to property owners, insurance companies are using bad faith tactics to ignore obvious damage and wrongfully deny valid insurance claims. They are doing this to avoid expensive payouts, which is both illegal and all too common. Policyholders that regularly pay their premiums deserve full coverage under their policies. For many Port Aransas property owners, the only way to get the compensation they are entitled to is to work with an experienced insurance lawyer.

Get Help With Your Port Aransas Hurricane Harvey Claim

At Raizner Slania LLP, our attorneys are leaders in insurance litigation. We’ve helped property owners from around the country recover funds owed under their policies and more, and we are currently fighting in court for Hurricane Harvey victims all across Texas. If you need help with your Port Aransas Hurricane Harvey claim, call us today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation to discuss your case.

hurricane harvey insurance lawsuit

Corpus Christi Still Struggling To Rebuild Five Months After Harvey

When Hurricane Harvey first made landfall on August 25th, it was the first major hurricane to hit Texas in ten years. Harvey made landfall just northeast of Corpus Christi, Texas, subjecting the coastal community to relentless wind, rain, and storm surges. In the months since Harvey, much of Corpus Christi is still struggling to rebuild.

In the days and hours before the storm, the National Hurricane Center warned Corpus Christi residents that Harvey’s storm surge would peak between 9 and 13 feet and carry as much as 40 inches of rainfall. When Harvey ripped through Corpus Christi, the National Weather Service clocked winds of 63 miles per hour at Corpus Christi International Airport. Harvey’s impact was devastating for Corpus Christi. The storm managed to collapse several buildings with people inside. Search and rescue worked tirelessly to free trapped people and evacuate residents.

Hurricane Harvey’s Slow Moving Nature Caused Significant Damage

Compared to other major hurricanes, Hurricane Harvey was particularly slow moving. This means that areas in Harvey’s path like Corpus Christi were subjected to hurricane force winds and rainfall for much longer, causing significant damage. To make matters worse, it wasn’t until after the storm passed that property owners discovered the flood maps of Corpus Christi are 33 years old. In the months after the storm, new flood maps have been drawn up and are currently under review, but preliminary findings indicate Corpus Christi is much more prone to flooding than the out-of-date maps indicated.

Corpus Christi Business Owners Struggling To Rebuild

Rebuilding in Harvey’s wake has been incredibly challenging for Corpus Christi business owners. The damage caused by Harvey was two pronged: first, the storm ripped off roofs and other critical building components, opening up the interiors of buildings to the elements, and second, the relentless rainfall destroyed interiors and contents.

Because there are two types of damage related to Corpus Christi Hurricane Harvey claims (wind and interior water damage), business owners are learning the hard way how complicated commercial insurance claims can be. Business owners are desperate to get up and running again to generate revenue, but many insurance companies are unnecessarily delaying, grossly undervaluing, or completely denying valid claims. This is crippling Corpus Christi’s recovery, but policyholders do have options.

What To Know About Your Corpus Christi Hurricane Harvey Claim

Many insurance companies are fraudulently claiming some damage caused by Harvey is not covered under commercial insurance policies, when in fact it is. These denials are aimed at saving insurance companies from paying out claims, but this is wrong and illegal. There are a variety of bad faith tactics insurance companies are employing to limit claim payouts, and only experienced insurance lawyers know how to spot them and stop insurance companies in their tracks.

If you are still struggling with your Corpus Christi Hurricane Harvey claim or if your claim was underpaid or denied, you need the help of an experienced insurance lawyer to get what you are rightfully owed under your policy. At Raizner Slania LLP, our insurance lawyers have years of experience fighting dishonest insurance companies after natural disasters. Let us review your Corpus Christi Hurricane Harvey claim to help ensure you are getting what you rightfully deserve under your policy. Call us today to schedule a free consultation.

Victoria Hurricane Harvey Claim

Victoria Residents Facing Bad Faith Insurance Denials On Harvey Wind Claims

Many Texans are still struggling to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. For residents in Victoria, Texas, recovery has been very slow. When Harvey ripped through Victoria, it was still a Category 4 hurricane, meaning it caused absolutely catastrophic damage. Victoria’s sluggish recovery is due, in part, to insurance companies operating in bad faith toward policyholders unaware of their rights.

The Complexities of Wind Claims

As a Category 4 hurricane, Harvey caused substantial wind damage across Victoria. Unfortunately, wind damage is usually just the beginning of the damage a building sustains in the aftermath of a large-scale natural disaster. Wind damage often creates openings that allows rain into properties, causing widespread water damage. Many commercial buildings in Victoria had their roofs ripped off, which allowed Harvey’s relentless rainfall to destroy just about everything inside.

Recovering funds for flooded contents might seem like a straightforward insurance claim, but the reality many Victoria business owners are facing is that insurance companies are operating in bad faith to avoid paying out on claims. Natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey leave insurance companies on the hook for billions of dollars in damages. To avoid and/or limit their claims obligations, many insurance companies are using bad faith tactics to wrongfully deny or limit claims.

Storm Created Openings and Wind Driven Rain

A storm like Harvey can cause both exterior and interior damage to commercial buildings. Some insurance policies require a storm created opening for interior damage to be covered, while other policies do not, and it takes an experienced insurance attorney to know the difference. Storm created openings occur when a storm causes an opening in building envelope, including the roof, exterior and windows, and this opening allows rainfall to damage the interior.

By classifying damage as being caused by wind driven rain rather than storm created openings, insurance companies sometimes try to avoid paying for water damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. This isn’t just wrong, its illegal, and Victoria business owners need to understand their rights regarding their commercial insurance policies.

Know Your Rights

Commercial insurance policyholders are protected under the Texas Insurance Code from certain bad faith tactics. Policyholders have a right to a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim. Insurance companies are required to adopt and implement reasonable standards for the prompt investigation of a claim and cannot refuse a claim without conducting a reasonable investigation. If your insurance company is violating your rights you’re going to need the help of an experienced insurance lawyer.

At Raizner Slania LLP, our insurance lawyers have taken on some of the largest insurers in the country, and won. We know how insurance companies try to dodge responsibility and how to combat this to get our clients what they are rightfully owed under their policies. Contact us today to discuss your Victoria Hurricane Harvey claim during a free consultation.

Wind Driven Rain and Storm Created Openings: How Insurance Companies Are Using Policy Exclusions and Limitations to Deny Harvey Claims

Much of Texas is struggling to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Progress has been slow for many property owners because insurance companies are dragging their feet in paying out on claims. Many Texans are discovering their insurance companies are using certain exclusions and limitations in their policies to wrongfully deny legitimate claims. This approach has become common throughout the Coastal Bend area of Texas, as real estate owners and businesses are beginning to receive denial letters from their insurance companies.

Is your insurance company refusing to pay your claim on the grounds that the damage resulted from wear and tear and not wind from Hurricane Harvey? Are they admitting that there is damage to the interior of the building that resulted from wind driven rain, but refusing to pay because there was “no storm created opening”? Let’s take a look at the applicable clauses, and what you can do about it.

All Risks Policies and Wind Driven Rain 

Most policies issued in Texas consider any direct physical loss to be covered unless the loss is either excluded or limited by a specific policy provision. Wind damage from a hurricane and wind driven rain are both considered a covered cause of loss under most insurance policies. Because of that basic rule, insurance companies will have to identify and prove that a specific “Exclusion” or “Limitation” contained in the policy applies before they can avoid coverage.

In Texas, a policyholder bears the responsibility to demonstrate a covered cause of loss, but if an insurance company wants to avoid payment based on an exclusion or limitation, they have to prove that it applies.

Ensuing Loss and Policy Exclusions For Wear and Tear, Faulty Maintenance, Manufacturing Defects and Other Pre-Existing Conditions

Most policies contain a series of exclusions that are crafted to avoid coverage. One of the most commonly used exclusions pertains to “wear and tear.” If an insurer can demonstrate that roof damage was the result of wear and tear and not hurricane winds, there is no coverage under the policy.

Often, however, these condition-based exclusions are written back in coverage for an “ensuing loss.” An ensuing loss is a new loss that follows an earlier loss. In the case of an ensuing loss, the earlier loss is often uncovered under the policy, while the new loss is, meaning policyholders will only receive compensation for damage caused by the new loss and are left paying out of pocket for damage caused by the original loss.

For Hurricane Harvey claims, this is most commonly playing out like this: insurance companies will claim the roof, siding or other component of the building envelope were not damaged by wind, but rather deteriorated due to wear and tear over time. Then wind driven rain, a covered cause of loss, enters the building through the existing defects and causes interior water damage. The alleged original loss – the deteriorated roof – is not covered under the policy, so insurance companies do not have to pay for the water and wind damage caused by the storm. The interior water damage is covered under the policy, so insurance companies will compensate policyholder only for this damage.

When an insurance company denies damage to a roof, but pays for interior damage due to water or wind driven rain, it is typically a result of an ensuing loss type of provision.

Even in a circumstance where an insurer pays for interior damage due to ensuing loss, they will try to minimize those payments. The interior of a building includes anything beneath the roof covering, such as insulation and decking. When an insurer has a responsibility to pay for interior damage under a policy, they are obligated to pay for all interior damage, and not just limited payments for sheetrock. This includes substantial repairs for the parts of the building just below the roof, such as wet insulation or corroded decking.

Storm Created Opening Limitations

In addition to outright exclusions, an all risks policy may also contain certain “Limitations.” One common limitation provides that the insurer will not pay for damage to the interior of a building unless “the building or structure first sustains damage from a Covered Cause of Loss to its roof or walls through which the rain . . . enters.” In other words, with this type of limitation, there is no coverage for interior damage unless it resulted from a storm created opening. Many policies do not contain this type of limitation, and in those cases, interior damage is covered even without evidence of wind damage to the roof, siding or windows.

How Insurance Companies Are Abusing Wind Driven Rain Clauses

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, insurance companies are facing the financial liability for billions of dollars in claims. Insurance companies are run first and foremost as businesses. This means insurance companies may not always have a policyholder’s best interests at heart. In order to avoid paying out on claims, many insurance companies are wrongfully claiming damages were caused by wear and tear, and not a covered loss such as wind driven rain.

While this might seem like a small detail, the reality is that this can determine if a claim is paid or not. Many policyholders in places like Fort Bend County, Rockport, and all along the Texas coast are shocked to find out insurance companies wrongfully classify their wind damage.

Hurricane Harvey was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds at 130 miles per hour. Wind damage from Hurricane Harvey was obvious. Roofs were destroyed, trees were downed, and properties were decimated. So why do insurance companies fraudulently deny these claims?

Very few policyholders understand the nuances and complexities of commercial insurance and are unaware of their rights. By giving policyholders the runaround, companies are saving themselves millions of dollars in payouts. This is wrong and insurance companies must be held responsible.

Raizner Slania LLP Helps Policyholders With Hurricane Harvey Wind Claims

If you regularly pay your premiums, you are entitled to full coverage under your insurance company. If your insurance company has wrongfully denied, delayed, or underpaid your claim, call the experienced Hurricane Harvey wind claim lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP today. We have a successful track record of taking on some of the largest insurers in the country. Don’t wait to get help on your Hurricane Harvey claim.

Hurricane Harvey Wind Claim

Performing Arts Center Files Hurricane Harvey Lawsuit

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the owner of a performing arts center in Fort Bend County against Sentinel Insurance Company, LTD after its Hurricane Harvey wind claim was wrongfully denied.

Hurricane Harvey Makes Landfall

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on August 25, 2017, it was a Category 4 hurricane with maximum winds of 150 miles per hour. All across the Texas coast and further inland, wind ripped through commercial and residential properties. On August 26, 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage to the plaintiff’s property. Sizable portions of the roof were compromised by wind, which allowed rain to be driven in, causing substantial damage to the interiors of the property.

Harvey completely destroyed the roof, interior, ceiling, windows, walls, flooring, and other parts of the physical structure. In addition to structural damage, other valuables such as electronics, furniture, equipment, props, and one-of-a-kind costumes were completely ruined.

Immediately after the storm, the plaintiff promptly filed a claim with Sentinel, alerting them to the extensive damages. In an effort to assist Sentinel with the claims process and to mitigate any further damages to the property, the plaintiff engaged a roofing contractor to perform emergency mitigation services and assist with estimating some of the repair costs.

According to the “Inside Claims Rep” from Sentinel, who does not even appear to be located in Texas, the plaintiff’s claim was denied in full on the basis that water entry was not due to a storm created opening, but appeared to be related to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Harvey.

It is unclear at this time whether Sentinel or their Inside Claims Rep conducted any testing whatsoever or made any attempt at preparing an estimate reflecting these outlandish findings. If any testing was conducted or estimates were in fact prepared, the documents and/or explanations were not provided to the plaintiff. Instead, Sentinel simply denied the claim and closed the file, a move designed to save Sentinel hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Although Sentinel has, to date, provided no clear documentation of their inspection or findings, it denied the claim in full on September 5, 2017. Because Sentinel has refused to pay out the claim, the plaintiff’s business has been crippled. The plaintiff had to suspend operations for several months and lost several long-term rental contracts due to the dilapidated state of the property.

Sentinel Wrongfully Denied the Wind Claim

Sentinel failed to attempt to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim, failed to adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of the claim, and failed to provide a reasonable explanation for the denial of a claim. Our client also alleges Sentinel violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.

Get Help With Your Hurricane Harvey Wind Claim

Hurricane Harvey caused billions of dollars in property damage, and insurance companies are using bad faith tactics to avoid paying out on thousands of claims. If your insurance company is denying or undervaluing your Hurricane Harvey wind claim, you will need the help of the experienced insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP to get your rightful compensation. Call us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Rockport Wind Claim Lawyers

Hurricane Harvey Caused Unprecedented Wind Damage In Rockport

It was difficult to prepare for a storm like Hurricane Harvey. When Harvey came ashore in late August of last year, few anticipated the widespread damage that would ensue. As a Category 4 hurricane, Harvey had maximum sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. These winds ripped through the coastal city of Rockport, Texas, and the city is still struggling to rebuild over five months later.

Hurricane Force Winds Rip Through Rockport, Texas

Although Hurricane Harvey dropped an unprecedented amount of rainfall, the hurricane force winds were what really crippled the city of Rockport. The city is still grappling with massive amounts of debris shaken loose from the storm. In the five months since Hurricane Harvey, the city of Rockport has hauled away 2.5 million cubic yards of debris, which accounts for one-fourth of all debris in Texas. This is astonishing considering only 100,000 people live in Rockport year round. The city of Houston, which is over 200 times larger, has removed just slightly more debris than Rockport at 3 million cubic yards.

Unfortunately for the city of Rockport, there are still many piles of debris to clear. Local officials in Rockport have estimated it will take between three to five years for the city to completely rebuild.

Wind and Rain Cause Substantial Damage

While Rockport didn’t receive as much rain as other parts of Texas, the rain it did receive in conjunction with high winds caused serious damage. For many property owners, the wind ripped off roofs, windows, and other structural components of property, creating openings for rain to cause water damage. Even for properties where there was no storm creating opening, water poured in through seals, vents and other building components and caused massive interior damage.

Once rain reaches the inside of a property, it will require extensive restoration work to fix the resulting damage. Some buildings will need to be completely rebuilt. For business owners, overcoming the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey just might be too difficult. It is estimated one-fourth of businesses in Rockport damaged by Harvey will not reopen at all, due in part to the difficult and lengthy insurance claims process.

Not only are insurance companies swamped with claims, they are also doing everything in their power to limit payouts. Many businesses don’t have the money to begin repairs themselves and it could take months before insurance companies pay out. This problem is compounded by the fact that water damage needs to be taken care of immediately to prevent the growth of black mold and other serious property damage.

What Rockport Businesses Can Do

No property in Rockport was safe from the 130 miles per hour wind brought by Hurricane Harvey. If your business suffered wind damage, you need to immediately contact an attorney. Insurance companies will do everything they can to avoid paying out large insurance payments. To get the rightful compensation under your policy, you need an aggressive and experienced insurance trial lawyer by your side.

Rockport Wind Claim Lawyers

At Raizner Slania LLP, our insurance lawyers have taken on some of the largest insurance companies in the world on behalf of our clients. We are national leaders in insurance litigation and are proud to dedicate our time to helping Hurricane Harvey victims recover. If your property suffered wind damage during Hurricane Harvey, call us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.