Category: Insurance Claim Lawsuits

Insurance companies exist to provide an individual or entity financial protection or reimbursement from loses. These types of contracts can be full of confusing and sometimes conflicting information as well as fine print the average person may not be aware of. Although the companies are supposed to protect their clients, often they will deny, delay, or dispute claims to prevent having to provide compensation. The attorneys of Raizner Slania file lawsuits against these insurance companies acting in bad faith and fight for their client’s right to reimbursement.


Houston Hurricane Lawyers

2018 Hurricane Season Forecast and Preparedness

The start of Hurricane Season on June 1st had many Houstonians worried. It’s been less than a year since Hurricane Harvey caused devastation across the city and throughout Texas, and many people still live with constant reminders of the storm’s damage. Each year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) provides a forecast of the upcoming Hurricane Season, and this year the agency had a few interesting insights.

An Average Hurricane Season

NOAA reported that the 2018 Hurricane Season has a 75% chance of being normal or slightly above normal. But what exactly does normal mean? To the NOAA, normal still means Houston could weather a few storms. A normal or average hurricane season includes 12 named storms, six of which become hurricanes, and three of those hurricanes become major hurricanes (category three and above). Currently, the NOAA is predicting approximately ten to 16 named storms, with five to nine of them developing into hurricanes, and one to four could develop into major hurricanes.

Preparing For Hurricanes

Even though this year’s Hurricane Season isn’t currently predicted to be particularly active, it only takes one major hurricane to cause catastrophic damage. For this reason, everyone should make some preparations in the event of a major storm. Here are a few helpful tips to get you ready for the upcoming Hurricane Season:

  1. In case of an evacuation, have a plan ready, including where you will go, what routes you’ll take to get there, and what you will take with you. If you have pets, you may need to make separate arrangements for them.
  2. Stock up on extra water bottles and nonperishable food. Hurricanes have the potential to cause catastrophic damage to infrastructure. You may not have electricity or clean drinking water immediately after a storm, and even if you do, the roads may be damaged or blocked, preventing you from getting to a store.
  3. Closely monitor changing weather conditions. Battery powered or crank radios are ideal for monitoring weather conditions because they don’t rely on an electrical source or Internet connection.
  4. Make sure loved ones know where you are and how to contact you. All natural disasters are incredibly disruptive, so plan ahead and make sure other family members know how to reach you and keep them updated on your whereabouts.

Houston Hurricane Lawyers

At Raizner Slania LLP, we understand the challenges of rebuilding after a hurricane. Most people believe their property and belongings are protected under insurance policies, but the reality is that insurance companies are often less than honest when handling natural disaster claims, which can rob policyholders of coverage and slow down recovery. If you are still struggling with your insurance company over your Hurricane Harvey damage insurance claim, call the Houston hurricane lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP today.

Commercial Property Hail Damage Lawyers

Hailstorm Devastates DFW Area

For most people, last Wednesday, June 6th was pretty unremarkable. Unfortunately for the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the early morning was marked by a catastrophic hailstorm. Many places in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and North Texas suffered hail damage, including the cities of Coppell, Carrollton, Arlington, Irving, Frisco, and Farmers Branch.

The storm caused widespread damage and turned severe just after midnight. At 12:30 a.m., the National Weather Service released warnings for portions of Denton and Collin Counties. The storm continued to move southwest, moving through the Dallas-Fort Worth area dumping large chunks of hail along the way. Early Wednesday morning, the National Weather Service recorded wind gusts at DFW airport at 59 miles per hour.

The reports of hail size varied from 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter in places like southeast Arlington to softball-sized hail in parts of Coppell and Carrollton. For property owners, even small pieces of hail can cause serious damage. Hail can damage roofs, creating openings for rainfall that damage interiors. Hail can also damage other building components like HVAC systems, which can require costly repairs.

Filing A Commercial Property Hail Damage Claim

While most commercial property owners have insurance policies to protect against hail damage, it’s important to understand how insurance companies might try to minimize paying out on claims. Storms like the one that caused widespread damage in the DFW area cost insurance companies millions. To avoid paying out, insurance companies might use a variety of bad faith tactics. Oftentimes insurance companies will claim the damage to a property is just regular wear and tear or due to inadequate maintenance. Other times insurance companies will misrepresent the terms of their policies, claiming certain hail damage isn’t covered when in fact it is. For commercial property owners, talking to an experienced bad faith insurance lawyer can help make sure you get what you are rightfully entitled to under your policy.

Commercial Property Hail Damage Lawyers

When policyholders regularly pay their insurance premiums, they deserve full coverage under their policies. At Raizner Slania LLP, we have extensive experience taking on large insurance companies and obtaining successful outcomes for our clients. Call one of our commercial property hail damage lawyers today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

hurricane Harvey insurance lawsuit

Commercial Building Owner Files Hurricane Harvey Insurance Lawsuit Against Underwriters at Lloyd’s

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Harris County commercial building owner against Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London after its Hurricane Harvey Insurance claim was wrongfully denied under Texas law.

Hurricane Harvey Drops Unprecedented Rainfall

When Hurricane Harvey made landfall off the Texas coast in late August 2017, few anticipated how much rain the slow moving storm would drop across Texas. Hurricane Harvey’s extreme winds and rain caused substantial damage to our client’s commercial property. Wind compromised sizable portions of the property’s roof, which caused water intrusion and interior damage. Overall, the roof, insulation, ceilings, interiors, and electrical components of the structure were damaged.

Despite substantial damage, the plaintiff felt fortunate to have an insurance policy that would cover the cost of repairs. Immediately after the storm, the plaintiff promptly filed a claim with Underwriters, alerting them to the extensive damages.

Unfortunately, Underwriters’ claims-handling process resulted in a wrongful denial that omitted a wealth of facts, physical evidence, obvious wind damage, and meteorological data from Hurricane Harvey supporting the plaintiff’s claim. Underwriters unreasonably pinned the loss on anything but the wind, an action designed to save the insurer hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages to the property and the business.

The plaintiff hired its own public adjuster to estimate repair costs; however, Underwriters and its preferred vendor, Vericlaim, Inc., ignored the estimates provided by the public adjuster. Although Underwriters has, to date, provided no clear documentation of its inspection or findings, it denied the claim in full on December 26, 2017.

In its Denial Letter, Underwriters quoted the opinions of an engineer it claims to have hired to support its conclusions. If any estimates were in fact prepared, none of those documents or explanations were provided to the plaintiff. Instead, Underwriters simply denied the claim and closed the file.

Underwriters at Lloyd’s 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 the claim without conducting a reasonable investigation.

Hurricane Harvey Lawyers

Texans experienced catastrophic losses in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. As if the physical damage wasn’t severe enough, Texans are now facing dishonest insurance companies that are wrongfully denying claims and preventing Texans from rebuilding. If you are struggling with your insurance company with regard to a Hurricane Harvey claim, don’t wait to contact us to learn your rights.

Waxahachie Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers

Waxahachie Hotel Owner Files Hail Damage Insurance Lawsuit

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a hail damage insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Waxahachie hotel owner against AmGUARD Insurance Company after its insurance claim was wrongfully denied.

February 2017 Hailstorms 

The plaintiff filed a hail damage insurance claim with AmGUARD after discovering extensive hail damage due to Texas hailstorms in February 2017. Portions of the property’s roof were damaged, causing storm created openings that further damaged the interiors of the property. Additionally, the HVAC systems, windows, and other portions of the property were severely damaged.

In response to the claim, AmGUARD assigned an internal adjuster who inspected the property and prepared an estimate documenting $144,073.53 in covered damages. However, several weeks later the plaintiff was notified the adjuster was being removed from the claim, and the claim would now be handled by an adjuster from Engle Martin & Associates, a preferred vendor of AmGUARD.

In an effort to assist AmGUARD with the claims process and to mitigate any further damages to the property, the plaintiff engaged its own contractor to assist with estimating some of the repair costs. AmGUARD’s claims-handling process omitted a wealth of facts, physical evidence, obvious damages, and meteorological data supporting the plaintiff’s claim. AmGUARD unreasonably determined the damage was insufficient to warrant a payment to the plaintiff. AmGUARD and its preferred vendor, Engle Martin & Associates, ignored obvious evidence.

Although AmGUARD has provided no clear documentation of its findings, to date no payments have been made to the plaintiff for the extensive damage to the Waxahachie hotel. To this day, AmGUARD has refused to pay for any damages covered under the insurance policy.

AmGUARD Violated The Texas Insurance Code

Our client cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including a 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 misrepresentation of the insurance policy under which it afford coverage to the plaintiff.

Waxahachie Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers

At Raizner Slania LLP, we have extensive experience taking on large insurance companies and obtaining successful outcomes for our clients. If your insurance company has delayed, underpaid, or denied your claim, call the Waxahachie bad faith insurance lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

Menchaca Ruling

Menchaca: Clarification of the Law Regarding Recovery On Insurance Claims

Menchaca Clarified Decades of Conflicting Case Law

USAA Lloyds v. Menchaca, a case recently decided by the Texas Supreme Court, sought to eliminate confusion regarding conflicting decisions about insureds’ claims against their insurance companies. The decision announced five rules about the relationship between insurance contract claims, which are claims against the insurance company for damages under the policy, and statutory claims under the Texas Insurance Code, which can give insureds additional damages.

Background: Gail Menchaca, Hurricane Ike, And USAA

Gail Menchaca’s home was damaged during Hurricane Ike in 2008. However, when she contacted her insurer, USAA, to report the claim they sent an adjuster who found minimal damages that did not exceed the policy’s deductible. Doubting this, Gail requested a second inspection, which rendered similar results, and USAA refused to pay Gail anything on her claim. Gail sued USAA to recover her policy benefits, costs, and attorney’s fees. She sued for breach of the policy and for unfair settlement practices and violations of the Texas Insurance Code. The jury found that USAA had fulfilled its obligations under the policy but that it still owed Gail $11,350 in damages plus $130,000 in attorney’s fees. This presented an interesting conflict in case law, which held both that Gail could recover at least her policy benefits under the Insurance Code, and that Gail could not recover under the code without a finding of a breach of the policy. The Court declared five rules in an attempt to reconcile its previous decisions.

The General Rule

The Court confirmed the general rule that an insured cannot recover policy benefits for an insurer’s statutory violation if the insured doesn’t have a right to those benefits in the first place. The insured must have actual damages caused by the statutory violation, and without coverage under the policy for the claimed damages there are no actual damages. If the policy does not cover the loss, there are no benefits to recover. However, there does not have to be an actual finding of breach of the policy to show the policy covered the loss and the insurer didn’t pay.

The Entitled-To-Benefits Rule

One of the most important clarifications in Menchaca was that an insured who establishes a right to receive benefits under an insurance policy can recover those benefits as “actual damages” for a statutory violation. The benefit to recovery under the statute is that an insured may recover additional penalties such as interest on their claim and attorney’s fees. We are currently handling a case before the Texas Supreme Court, Barbara Technologies Corp. v. State Farm Lloyds, which will further clarify whether statutory penalties survive payment of an appraisal.

The Benefits-Lost Rule

The third rule recognizes an insured’s right to recover benefits under the policy for a statutory violation, even if there is no coverage for the claimed damage, if the insurer’s conduct caused the insured to not have that coverage. For example, if an insurer misrepresents that a policy covers wind damage, and the insured relies on that representation to buy the policy, but the policy does not actually cover wind damage—under the benefits-lost rule, the insurer’s misrepresentation caused the insured to not have benefits it reasonably thought it had. Therefore, the insured can still recover benefits for wind damage as actual damages for a statutory violation under the benefits-lost rule.

The Independent-Injury Rule

Menchaca clarified the two aspects of the independent injury rule. First, if an insurer’s statutory violation causes an injury independent of the insured’s right to recover policy benefits, the insured may recover damages for the injury even if the policy does not entitle the insured to receive benefits. However, when an insured seeks to recover damages that flow from denial of the policy benefits, the general rule applies and precludes recovery unless the insured is entitled to policy benefits. Second, an insurer’s statutory violations don’t permit the insured to recover actual damages beyond the policy benefits unless the violation causes an injury that is independent from the loss of benefits.

The No-Recovery Rule

Under this rule, a corollary to the other four, an insured cannot recover any damages based on an insurer’s statutory violation unless the insured establishes a right to receive benefits under the policy or an injury independent of the right to receive benefits.

Barbara Technologies And The Unanswered Question in Appraisal Cases

A question still to be answered—perhaps in our Barbara Technologies case, which is currently pending before the Court—is whether in a case where a valid claim is rejected and then appraisal is invoked and paid, can the insured still recover statutory prompt payment penalties under Section 542 of the Texas Insurance Code. The holding in Menchaca— particularly the entitled to benefits rule— seems to suggest an affirmative answer, but another line of appraisal cases hold that nothing further can be recovered when an appraisal provided for in the contract is conducted and the award is paid in full. However, without the statutory penalties in the Insurance Code an insurer has no incentive to promptly settle or pay claims; the insurer can just wait months or years to invoke the appraisal provision and then be exonerated from paying interest and attorney’s fees on the claim. Hopefully, the Court will continue to recognize the rights of insured Texans who are being wrongfully abused by their insurance companies, and provide the statutory benefits the Legislature enacted to help prevent wrongful treatment of insureds in all cases where the insurer violated the statute.

Insured’s Who Are Not Timely Paid In Full Can Recover Statutory Penalties

If you have been mistreated by your insurance company during the claims process, or your payment has been wrongfully delayed, contact the experienced lawyers at Raizner Slania LLP, who can help get you the benefits you deserve.

fire damage insurance attorneys

Industrial Building Owner Files Bad Faith Insurance Lawsuit After Fire

Raizner Slania LLP has filed a bad faith insurance lawsuit on behalf of an industrial building owner against Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London – Brit Syndicate 2987 and Hibbs-Hallmark & Company after its insurance claim was wrongfully denied.

Catastrophic Fire Devastates Commercial Property

The plaintiff owns a scrap metal dealing business that processes metal and then sells it to mills for profit. The property encompasses nearly four acres of land and includes multiple buildings, including a large scrap metal yard, a main office building, and several covered areas throughout the property. The business also utilizes numerous machines and large pieces of equipment, such as excavators, shredders, and separators, among others.

On May 5, 2017, a catastrophic fire broke out at the property. As a result, the business equipment on the property was severely damaged. In addition to damaged business equipment, the plaintiff lost extensive business income as a result of the fire damage to the property. Two pieces of industrial machinery were completely destroyed and two others sustained significant damage.

The damaged machinery prevented the plaintiff from processing and preparing its scrap metal. Because of this, the plaintiff lost business on significant materials that could have been purchased and sold to mills for a profit in the course of ordinary business operations. The damaged machines meant the plaintiff was unable to process the metal, so the plaintiff was forced to resell bulk material after the fire. Unfortunately, the post-fire material had to be processed manually, which caused the materials to incur higher labor costs.

Soon after the fire, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim for substantial property damages and lost business income. The plaintiff asked that the cost of the damages be covered pursuant to the policy, but Lloyd’s has refused to make a full payment on the plaintiff’s claim.

Lloyd’s conducted an unreasonable and inadequate investigation of the damages to the equipment and looked to find policy exclusions in order to deny the claim. Lloyd’s wrongfully denied, underpaid, and delayed plaintiff’s claim for actual damages to the property and lost business income. Specifically, Lloyd’s has chosen to continue to deny and delay timely payment of the damages.

Violations of the Texas Insurance Code

Our clients cites numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code, including the failure to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim and misrepresentation of the insurance policy under which it affords property coverage to the plaintiff. Our client also alleges numerous violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act.

Get Help With Your Insurance Claim

If your commercial insurance claim includes damage to specialty equipment, you will need the help of an experienced insurance attorney. Insurance companies often try to use dishonest tactics and misrepresentation to deny coverage for specialty equipment. At Raizner Slania LLP, our fire damage insurance attorneys have helped scores of clients with insurance claims and we know how to evaluate specialty equipment insurance claims. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.