House Bill 1774 will officially become a Texas State law on September 1st, 2017, just a few short days away. It will usher in legislative changes to how the Lone Star State handles delayed, unpaid, or unreasonably denied insurance claims. Legal professionals and consumer rights groups throughout Texas are more alarmed about HB 1774 than a typical insurance law change since Hurricane Harvey is currently causing widespread devastation that will trigger thousands of insurance claims.
Since the law may heavily benefit insurance companies come September 1st, homeowners are being encouraged to file their Hurricane Harvey damage claims as soon as possible and definitely before the bill becomes law. While it is ideal to file a claim after getting a good assessment of your property’s damage, you should not attempt to walk your property if it is still unsafe to do so due to flooding, unstable structures, and so forth. Never do anything that jeopardizes your health or the safety of others. If you can reasonably assume — within 80% accuracy, according to Texas insurance laws — that your property has been damaged by Hurricane Harvey but might not be able to make a property assessment before September 1st due to dangers, then you can still call your insurance company to file a claim and provide general information.
What HB 1774 Does
When an insurance company is found to have used bad faith tactics to delay the payment of a claim in Texas, the court can order that company to pay 18% more as an interest-based penalty. HB 1774 is cutting that penalty percentage down to just 10%. The law will also limit how much of attorney fees a plaintiff homeowner can receive from lawsuits originating from claims that did not initially meet the state’s 80% accuracy for damage assessments. It is believed that this is to act as a deterrent for people who are thinking about reporting a delayed or underpaid claim but are not sure if they can afford a lawyer.
It can be noted that the bill should only impact insurance claims that are brought to a lawsuit. A claim that does not need courtroom intervention or litigation should not face significant legal changes.
For more information about this ongoing story, you can view a full article posted by Dallas News by clicking here. Partner and Texas civil trial Attorney Brian Lauten of Lyons & Simmons, LLP was actually quoted throughout the article and speaks of the importance of filing a Hurricane Harvey claim before September 1st, 2017. If you require our law firm’s assistance after filing a homeowners’ insurance claim that was wrongfully denied, delayed, or underpaid, please do not hesitate to contact our attorneys to learn how we may be able to help you receive a fair recovery.