A big storm hit Amarillo, Texas on May 28, 2013, dropping hailstones that were described by some as “the size of tomatoes or apples” in many places and doing damage to thousands of vehicle windshields and roofs of houses and other buildings all over the city. Insurance adjusters were busy for weeks after the storm, the damage was so extensive. One building that suffered significant damage was a grocery store that our client owns. After a failure to timely and appropriately pay the insurance claim, the owners of the grocery store property have filed suit against Praetorian Insurance Company and its adjusters in Randall County District Court.
The food market was badly damaged by hail, including the roof, HVAC and both exterior and interior portions of the building. Immediately after the storm, its owners immediately filed a claim under their policy with Praetorian, asking them to cover all damages caused by the storm.
When they responded to the catastrophic claim, Praetorian assigned an adjuster to the claim, and our client alleges in their petition that the insurer failed to equip and train its adjuster to properly handle the claim. The lawsuit alleges that the insurance company’s inspections of the property were substandard and that they “grossly underestimated the extent and value of the damages to the property.” The insured also asserts that the insurance company adjuster misrepresented that much of the damage was not covered under the policy and also refused to provide information to the insured during the claims process.
Given the failures by Praetorian, the commercial property owner was forced to hire its own consultant to conduct an independent assessment of property damages because, they allege, Praetorian refused and continue to refuse to reevaluate the results of their investigation and continued to deny timely payment of the costs of storm damage, which has left the insured unable to make necessary repairs to the property. These delays then led to even greater damage to the property over time, including the roof and the interior of the building.
In the petition, the owner of the food market alleges numerous violations of the Texas Insurance Code by Praetorian and its adjusters regarding their wrongful refusal to pay the claim in a timely manner. They also allege that the insurance company and the adjuster failed to properly explain why they had denied the claim and that they had failed to conduct a reasonable investigation into the circumstances surrounding the claim. The complaint also points out that they allegedly misrepresented the coverage of the insurance policy and the conditions under which it is supposed to provide coverage for the damage sustained in the storm.
The plaintiff also cites numerous other failures and delays that constitute a violation of the Texas insurance code, as well as a breach of contract and bad faith on the parts of both Praetorian Insurance and its adjusters. They also allege significant violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices-Consumer Protection Act (DTPA) and Texas fraud laws. The Hail Insurance Dispute 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.