Texas House Bill 1774 is now officially a law, and not many people seem certain about what it does and what exactly it will impact. Overall, it seems that HB 1774 is crafted to benefit insurance companies by reducing the amount of compensation they must pay when they are caught using bad faith insurance tactics to delay or deny claims. With Hurricane Harvey pounding southeast Texas and causing widespread damage, many law firms – including our own – warned clients, readers, and inquirers that it might be the right move to file a hurricane damage claim before September 1st brought in HB 1774. Now that the bill is here, what impact has it actually had?
It is difficult to say so early into HB 1774’s lifespan but Law360 recently published an article discussing possibilities. (You can click here to view the article in full; log-in information or a subscription may be necessary.) It also quoted Attorney Brian P. Lauten, Texas trial lawyer and partner at Lyons & Simmons. He noted that the changes written into HB 1774 place even more power into insurance company hand when they already had the size advantage in most insurance disputes. He argues that the action is akin to taking away David’s sling in his mythical battle with Goliath.
From the opposing standpoint, some lawyers are warning homeowners not to rush into a Hurricane Harvey claim since HB 1774 should only apply to cases that require litigation. They warn that trying to file a rapid claim could lead to oversights in the filing process that cause more trouble than what the insurance company would cause. This operates on the assumption that insurance companies would never choose to use bad faith insurance tactics despite the fact that parts of HB 1774 acknowledge and address such behaviors directly.
The response to those who warn of rushing a claim is fairly straightforward: work with an insurance claims/trial attorney. With a lawyer’s guidance, filing will be simplified and potential mistakes avoided. However, now that HB 1774 is officially law, any Hurricane Harvey claim filed now will be subject to its provisions. Once again, this underlines the importance of retaining a lawyer’s services early. A homeowner filing a claim may need to hope that their claim will be respected and fairly evaluated by the insurance company, but will be ready for any opposition or unfair resistance if an attorney has been retained.
Do you need help dealing with an insurance company that is disregarding your Hurricane Harvey claim without due cause? Get Attorney Brian P. Lauten and the rest of our hard-hitting team at Lyons & Simmons on your side. Our Texas trial attorneys have the experience, know-how, and might to take on large insurance companies and fight for the rights of people in situations just like yours. Contact us today to begin – we have offices in Houston and Dallas but serve clients throughout Texas.