Odessa, Texas is no stranger to hailstorms, but the storm that swept through the city on June 14, 2017 was something residents and business owners were not prepared for. Winds during the storm were reported to be between 60 and 70 miles per hour while hail the size of baseballs pelted the city.
Although the storm lasted for only half an hour, the damage to the city was catastrophic. The storm swept through Ector County and parts of Midland County, causing significant damage to businesses in the path of the storm. Many buildings suffered roof damage and broken windows, including the Second Baptist Church where an entire side of the church suffered broken windows. However, hail can also cause severe damage to anything exposed like HVAC systems, equipment, and siding among other things.
In total, the damage is estimated to cost $480 million in repairs, making this the most costly storm in Odessa in decades. However, business owners can be surprised to learn that the total damages include more than just the cost of repairs. Business owners can suffer addition damage to their property while waiting for repairs. Roofs that become damaged in a hail storm can leak when it rains and businesses can be forced to close their doors until repairs are complete causing them to lose revenue. Owners of retail centers and apartment complexes can lose tenants, either temporarily or permanently, and this type of lost income can give rise to significant business interruption claims.
Many buildings like hotels, retail buildings, office buildings, and apartments were all damaged in the storm, and business owners may soon see out of state contractors and roofers descend on Odessa with offers to complete repairs. Property owners should always be wary of out state contractors who chase storms like the one that hit Odessa. These contractors often over promise and under deliver. Before hiring any contractor, public adjuster, or attorney, policyholders should ask questions and do their research. There is a lot at stake with a commercial insurance claim, so only qualified professionals should be retained to help your claim.
What Does This Means For Property Owners?
Anytime there is a natural event that causes widespread damage, business owners can face unique challenges regarding their property insurance claims. Events like last month’s Odessa hailstorm present massive losses to insurance companies, and some may respond by using bad faith tactics to limit payouts.
Insurance companies might try to claim that the hail damage is “normal wear and tear” or falsely claim some or all of the damage existed before the storm. These tactics are often unfair and unfounded, and are frequently touted by fraudulent engineers and other insurance industry professions whose goal is to help insurance companies reduce or complete deny payouts. If it doesn’t sound right, it may not be, and property owners would be wise to seek an independent, second opinion from a qualified contractor or public adjuster of their choice prior to accepting an insurance denial or reduced claim payment.
Under the Texas Insurance Code, policyholders have the right to have their insurance claims be investigated promptly and fairly. Policyholders must also be provided with a reasonable explanation if their claim is denied.
Unfortunately, recent legislation will make it more difficult for business owners to pursue these types of claims. This means property owners need to hire experienced and qualified legal counsel to successfully navigate a bad faith insurance claim. With the help of an experienced lawyer, policyholders can fight back against claims that are not properly investigated or claims that are delayed, underpaid, or wrongfully denied.
Odessa Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers
At Raizner Slania, our lawyers know the tactics insurance companies use to avoid payouts. Our Texas bad faith insurance lawyers have earned nationwide recognition for helping policyholders fight for and win their rightful claims against insurance companies operating in bad faith. Please contact us today for a free initial consultation.