Raizner Slania LLP has filed an insurance lawsuit on behalf of a Coryell County, Texas motel owner (“Plaintiff”) against Truck Insurance Exchange and its adjuster. The lawsuit was necessary due to the wrongful underpayment of the Plaintiff’s property damage claim.
Vehicle Accident Damages the Property
The allegations in the petition are as follows:
On June 23, 2018, a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed drove into the Plaintiff’s motel, causing significant damage to the building as well as the motel’s inventory and personal property. Furthermore, the crash resulted in a significant loss of business as the motel was forced to close for eight months. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed a claim with Truck Insurance Exchange regarding the extensive damages.
Truck Insurance Exchange wrongfully underpaid Plaintiff’s claim by omitting important facts and physical evidence that supported Plaintiff’s claim and extensive losses. Despite partial payment, the Plaintiff continues to wait for full payment covering lost business personal property and lost business income. The adjuster evaluating the damage, made unreasonable adjustments when inspecting the lost business personal property and business income portions of the claim, which resulted in Truck Insurance Exchange’s ignorance of crucial facts and refusal to fully accept liability.
The Plaintiff was forced to hire his own consultants, which identified significant damage that ruined the building’s interior and business personal property. Despite clear evidence that the damages were covered under the insurance policy, Truck Insurance Exchange failed to issue the funds owed and instead authorized continued delays and underpayments. To this day, the insurer has refused to fully pay for covered damages under its policy, due to an inadequate and haphazard investigation.
Plaintiff Sends Demand Letter
On June 1, 2017, Governor Abbott signed House Bill 1774 into law as Section 542A of the Texas Insurance Code. Section 542A.003 requires detailed, comprehensive pre-suit notice that is intended to make the claims and litigation process more transparent and to potentially avoid unnecessary lawsuits. Upon receiving notice, an insurer has the right to conduct an inspection and even make an offer to avoid litigation. When utilized properly, Section 542A should assist business consumers like the Plaintiff in their efforts to avoid protracted litigation over a clearly covered commercial property damage claim.
In compliance with Section 542A.003, the Plaintiff provided pre-suit notice to its insurer on October 15, 2020. The pre-suit notice provided a comprehensive outline of the Plaintiff’s claim and damages, quantified its loss, and even offered to waive a formal claim for attorneys’ fees if the contractual amounts were paid promptly. The carrier responded by denying any wrongdoing.
Truck Insurance Exchange Violated the Texas Insurance Code
In addition to the actions mentioned herein, the Plaintiff specifically alleges Truck Insurance Exchange violated the Texas Insurance Code by:
- Failing to attempt to effectuate a prompt, fair, and equitable settlement of a claim with respect to which liability has become reasonably clear
- Failing to adopt and implement reasonable standards for prompt investigation of claims arising under its policies
- Failing to provide promptly a reasonable explanation, in relation to the facts or applicable law, for the denial of a claim
- Refusing to pay the claims without conducting a reasonable investigation with respect to the claims
- Misrepresenting the insurance policies under which it affords property coverage to Plaintiff by making an untrue statement of material facts
- Misrepresenting the insurance policies under which it affords property coverage to Plaintiff by failing to state a material fact that is necessary to make other statements made not misleading
- Misrepresenting the insurance policies under which it affords property coverage to Plaintiff by making a statement in such manner as to mislead a reasonably prudent person to a false conclusion of material facts and failing to disclose a matter required by law to be disclosed
- Knowingly committing the foregoing acts, with actual knowledge of the falsity, unfairness, or deception of the foregoing acts and practices
- Failing to acknowledge receipt of the claim
- Failing to timely commence an investigation of the claim or to request from the Plaintiff any additional items, statements or forms it reasonably believes to be required
- Failing to notify the Plaintiff in writing of the acceptance or rejection of the claim not later than the 15th business day after receipt of all items, statements and forms required
- Delaying of payment of Plaintiff’s claim
The Plaintiff makes a claim for statutory interest penalties along with reasonable attorneys’ fees, alleging the carrier breached its contract, breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing, acted fraudulently and with malice, and violated the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
Texas Insurance Coverage Attorneys
If you are a commercial property owner dealing with an insurance claim that has been wrongfully delayed, denied, or underpaid, the commercial insurance coverage attorneys at Raizner Slania can help. Contact our office today to set up a free consultation.