AUSTIN, Texas – May 21, 2015 – PRLog — Insurance Claim Recovery Support LLC, a leading licensed public insurance adjusting firm in Austin, Texas urges policyholders dealing with storm damage property in the Counties of Harris, Travis, Brazoria, Montgomery, Fort Bend, Tarrant, Dallas, and Johnson from weather-related events occurring April 16, 2015, through April 19, 2015, to be aware of the following insurance claim essentials:

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) has declared these events catastrophe for the purpose of claims processing.  Per Texas insurance code 542.059, claim-handling deadlines under this subchapter are extended for an additional 15 days.

TDI Bulletin #B-0014-14 reminds insurers, insurance adjusters, and public insurance adjusters that House Bill 1183, effective September 1, 2013, establishes prohibited conduct of insurance adjusters, public insurance adjusters, and roofing contractors.

Roofers and contractors are prohibited from acting or advertising to adjust claims for any property for which the contractor is providing or may provide roofing services, regardless of whether the contractor holds a license to adjust insurance claims.  A roofer or contractor may not advocate on behalf of a consumer or discuss insurance policy coverages and exclusions. See FAQ regarding unlicensed individuals and entities adjusting claims and TX statute 4102.163.

Consumers are urged to keep the following in mind:
· Texas does not require roofers to be licensed. Be careful of any roofer or association that states they have a roofer license or claims to be a licensing entity.

·       Be wary if a contractor tells you of their experience in settling insurance claims or in dealing with insurance carriers and adjusters. Contractors are expressly prohibited from negotiating your claim with the insurance company and, other than providing and/or explaining an estimate to repair the damages that occurred, they should not be involved in the claim process.

·       Read contracts carefully before signing them. If the fine print says that you are authorizing the contractor to deal with the insurance company on your behalf, you can assume that the contractor is ignoring the requirements of the law above.

·       Do not sign contracts that assign all or a portion of an unsettled claim to the contractor and do not sign contracts that do not have a stated price for doing the work. Often we see contracts where the work will be done for “insurance proceeds recovered.” Many jurisdictions have found these contracts to be invalid because they do not state the exact price that is to be paid.

·       Do not sign contracts that require you to pay a contractor a percentage of the amount recovered in the claim if either party decides to cancel the contract. This is often a sign that the contractor plans to get involved in the negotiation of the claim in violation of Texas law.

·       Don’t become a victim of fraud schemes such as “Roofing deductible assistance programs.” See BBB investigation of Roofing Deductible Schemes.

Contractors are Vendors for the insured.  Public Adjusters are Agents for the insured who act solely on behalf of a homeowner or commercial building owner to negotiate the settlement of an insurance claim in a non-litigious manner.

Only Public Adjusters are licensed by the state department of insurance to advocate for the policyholder in negotiating first-party insurance claims.  A Public Adjuster settles claims for loss or damage under any policy of insurance covering real or personal property, usually for a fraction of the time and expense of an attorney. If you find yourself in a dispute with your insurance company, we encourage consumers to contact a Public Adjuster.

TDI investigates written complaints of persons (including but not limited to an individual, corporation, association, or other legal entity engaged in the business of insurance, including an agent, broker, adjuster per 541.002) violating the Insurance Code. Violating Insurance Code Chapters 4101 and 4102 may result in criminal penalties and license denial, suspension, revocation or fines.

While there are a number of good and ethical contractors, we encourage you to know your rights. Download Texas Consumer Bill of Rights for Homeowners.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

AUSTIN, Texas – July 29, 2014 – PRLog — Hail damage insurance claims have become such a big deal in Texas that the department of insurance held a symposium titled “War on Hail“  Over 2 million hail damage claims were processed from Jan. 1, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2012. During this period, the top five states generating hail damage claims were Texas (320,823); Missouri (138,857); Kansas (126,490); Colorado (118,118) and Oklahoma (114,168).

In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Texas was the state with the most hailstorm events with 557, 741 and 795, respectively according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

So far, 2014 Texas Hail Storms have taken its toll on property owners…

– Abilene projected losses of $400 Million
– Insured loss estimates for the Denton area started at $300M then rose to $500M within a month after the occurrence.
– More than 50,000 homes were damaged throughout Kileen, Temple, and Belton

Policyholders deserve and expect a fair and prompt settlement but many dealing with the insurance claim process feel like a “Wolfpack of One”.  Ok, maybe you’re a “Wolfpack of Two” if you have a really good contractor. That’s not a bad start, but you still have to document your claim, the occurrence, meet with the insurance company’s “Claim Gang“, interpret your policy, correspond and negotiate a settlement with your insurance company.  Plus, there is a pretty good chance that your insurance company may presently be at war on hail claims unbeknownst to you.

Have you experienced the effectiveness of an insurance company’s “Claim Gang” comprised of Agents, Adjusters, Examiners, Engineers, Building Consultants, Labs, Actuaries, Appraisers, and Attorneys?  If so, you know that these insurance claim experts work very hard on a daily basis for the interests of their gigantic insurance company employers and take great measures to protect their bottom line.

Don’t forget that your policy is a contract and its language, endorsements, exclusions and provisions were written by a gigantic insurance company loaded with adjusters, actuaries, and attorneys in compliance with the Texas state insurance code. So, if you think you’re really going to have a “like it never even happened” experience, you may need to suit up like the Seattle Seahawks on Super Bowl Sunday.

Truth: Unfortunately, not all insurance claims have happy endings like the commercials you see on TV.  If your building has verifiable hail and/or wind damage, it’s possible you have a valid insurance claim that you should consider filing with your insurance company.  Hail and wind damage might not cause your roof to leak for years. If you’re not sure, have your roof inspected for damage by a reputable roofer or public insurance adjuster.

Are You Damaged And Don’t Even Know It? After a building has been impacted by hail, damage may not immediately be noticeable.  Many property owners are simply unaware that they have damage, but over the course of time, heat and cold expand and contract roof membranes that can cause fractures after a hail storm.   Ice and heavy rain on a roof with undetected hail fractured membranes can lead to interior leaks. If you are experiencing this scenario, don’t wait to get professional insurance claim assistance.

Fiction:  My contractor can negotiate my insurance claim on my behalf.

Fact:  While there are many expert roofers and contractors who are very good at repairing or replacing roofs, handling insurance claims is a completely different animal.  The issue of roofers handling insurance claims for policyholders has driven changes in the Texas Insurance Code Section 4101.251 with the passage of House Bill 1183, that went into effect September 2013 whereby the statute specifically states, “A roofing contractor may not act as an adjuster or advertise to adjust claims for any property for which the contractor is providing or may provide roofing services, regardless of whether the contractor holds a license under this chapter.”  Further, insurance companies know that they are prohibited from negotiating insurance claims with contractors.

Fiction: My insurance company will cancel my policy if I file a claim.

Fact: Most states prohibit insurance companies from canceling policies for filing claims arising from weather events. Check your state and your policy language.

Fiction: If I don’t file my claim, my insurance company won’t raise my rates.

Fact: After a disaster, insurance companies may raise everyone’s rates in a specific geographic area or “tier.”  By not filing your legitimate claim, your personal rate increase pays for everyone else’s damage except yours.  Read More>> Investigation – Homeowner’s insurance rates on rise

Fiction:  It’s too late to file a claim.

Fact: There is no time limit to notify your insurer of a loss unless the policy specifies a time limit.  However, a policyholder should certainly notify the carrier as soon as the damage from the loss is discovered.  Prompt notice of loss is required by most policies, though what is “prompt” is usually a fact issue—meaning it is arguable on a case-by-case basis.  Some policies now require that notice of a loss must be given within one year of the date of loss.    However, in order to avoid its obligations to pay policy benefits based on a failure to give prompt notice, an insurer must prove it was somehow prejudiced by the “late” notice.[1]   An example of prejudice would be a policyholder’s late notice of roof damage which subsequently (not simultaneously) caused water damage inside the property.  Arguably, the insurer would still be responsible for the roof, but may not be responsible for the interior damages because but for the policyholder’s late notice, the interior damage would have been prevented.

Insurance companies have experts working for them, you should too.
If you are dealing with an insurance claim that has stalled out, been delayed, denied or underpaid, time is of the essence for you to get help.  A public adjuster is a state-licensed insurance adjuster who solely represents the interest of the policyholder who can level the playing field in the insurance claim process.

– By Scott Friedson, Insurance Claim Recovery Support LLC and Shannon Loyd, The Loyd Law Firm PLLC

Scott Friedson, the owner of Insurance Claim Recovery Support LLC, is a Texas Licensed Public Insurance Adjuster.  Shannon Loyd, the owner of The Loyd Law Firm PLLC, is Board Certified in Consumer and Commercial Law.   The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firms, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

[1] PAJ, Inc. v. Hanover Ins. Co., 243 S.W.3d 630 (Tex. 2008); Hernandez v. Gulf Group Lloyds, 875 S.W.2d 691, 692-94 (Tex.1994).

“What You Need to Know About Insurance Claims” presentation at New Jersey Apartment Association HQ in Monroe Township, NJ on Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Estimated $87 Billion in Property Damage from Superstorm Sandy

Feb. 27, 2013 – PRLog — AUSTIN, Texas — You don’t have to deal with insurance claims alone.  Find out by attending “What You Need to Know About Insurance Claims” at New Jersey Apartment Association HQ in Monroe Township, NJ on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.  This informative session will be presented by Licensed Public Insurance Adjuster Scott Friedson of Insurance Claim Recovery Support LLC.

You will learn…
– An overview of the commercial insurance claim process
– The difference between flood and wind claims
– Documenting wind damage claims
– What is a public insurance adjuster?
– Your options if you disagree with your insurance company’s claim assessment
– Your rights as a policyholder
– When to seek legal counsel
– What is an “appraisal of claim damage”?
– Business interruption claim tips
– How to receive your claim settlement in a timely manner
– Plus, other valuable tips and insights for commercial property damage insurance claim to get your maximum settlement in minimum time.

Free for NJAA Members, $75 for non-members
To register, download form or contact Jaclyn at 732-992-0607 for more information.
Or visit https://www.insuranceclaimrecoverysupport.com/register

In September of 2017, a Texas insurance bill was passed into law which is a major loss for Texas property owners. House Bill 1774 further enables bad faith insurance companies to abuse policyholders deploying unfair claim handling practices that force consumers to sue insurers for underpaying, delaying or wrongfully denying “force of nature” related insurance claims. The bill is an Insurer-friendly attempt to make it harder for Policyholders to bring and litigate force of nature-related property claims.

The media and insurance company lobbyists tout the bill will put an end to frivolous lawsuits surrounding weather disasters such as hailstorms and lower premiums by de-incentivizing trial lawyers gaming the system to get massive attorney’s fees. However, the new law reaches far beyond hail related occurrences, it encompasses other nature-related events including property damage covered for earthquake, wildfire, flood, tornadoes, lightning, hurricane, wind, snowstorm, or rainstorm.

HB 1774 offers little to no real mechanisms to curb lawsuits or hold insurer’s accountable for bad faith insurance claim handling acts which force many policyholders to file lawsuits even after making reasonable efforts to settle a claim with the assistance of a licensed public insurance adjuster. The legislation limits the ability of property owners to hold insurers accountable for underpaid claims or poorly handled claims investigations.

The bill actually cuts penalties for insurers sued for underpaying, delaying or wrongfully denying storm claims, including wind and hail damage, while making it harder for those suing to collect attorneys’ fees.

HB 1774 will force a majority of claim cases into federal court, which typically takes twice as long to receive justice, adds cost and uncertainty for property owners who attempt to legally challenge insurers’ decisions.

Many insurance companies pay property owners as little and as late as possible and drag the process out as long as they can. Texans can expect more delays and denials from insurers and less accountability. The harmful effect of this new law for homeowners, businesses, churches, and schools will be state-wide.

It is also noteworthy that HB 1774 passed in the absence of a Commissioner at the Texas Department of Insurance who regulates the insurance industry and protects consumers. Previous Commissioner of Insurance David Mattax sadly passed away in April of 2017 and to date, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has not appointed a new Commissioner to the Texas Department of Insurance.

Changes to the Texas Insurance Code

The “Hailstorm Bill”, effective September 1, 2017, adds several new provisions to the Texas Insurance Code affecting first-party property insurance claims. Notably, the bill would create a new Chapter 542A for weather-related claims, which changes the requirements for pre-suit notice and inspections, allow for the assumption of agent liability, and limit the number of recoverable attorneys’ fees. Other changes are as follows:

Inspections – Section 542A.004 provides that the person who receives pre-suit notice may provide a written request to inspect the insured property within 30 days after receiving the notice. It further provides that the inspection is to actually occur within 60 days of the date the person receives the pre-suit notice if reasonably possible.
Assumption of Liability – Section 542A.006 allows insurers to elect to assume whatever liability an agent might have to the claimant for the agent’s acts or omissions related to the claim by providing written notice to the claimant. An agent includes any employee, agent, representative, or adjuster acting on behalf of the insurer. Once the insurer assumes the agent’s liability, the claims against the agent must be dismissed with prejudice. By allowing the assumption of an adjuster’s or insurance agent’s liability, the bill aims to make it easier for insurers to remove cases to federal court.
Limitation of Attorneys’ Fees – If the policyholder’s attorney fails to comply with the new pre-suit notice requirements, the policyholder may be prohibited from recovering attorneys’ fees. Additionally, if a claim is tried, the number of recoverable attorneys’ fees will be adjusted. For a claimant to recover all attorneys’ fees, the award must equal at least 80% of the pre-suit damages demand, while a pre-suit demand equaling 20-79% of the damages award allows only for a scaled percentage recovery of attorneys’ fees. Should the award be 20% or less of a claimant’s original demand, the claimant recovers no attorneys’ fees. So now there arguably an incentive for Insurers to pay 20% less on every claim.
Reduced Statutory Penalty Interest – The new law lowers the penalty interest rate that insurers must pay if they fail to pay “timely and fully” from 18% per annum to a rate of adding 5% to the interest rate determined under Section 304.003 of the Finance Code, prejudgment interest which is currently 5%. Thus, the penalty is lowered from 18% to 10%. For claims to which Chapter 542A does not apply, however, the statutory penalty interest rate would still be 18%. That’s right, Texas lawmakers have lowered the penalty on Insurers who abuse the system and take advantage of the consumer from around 18% to 10%.
Rep. Greg Bonnen sponsored the bill passed by the Texas House. Texans for Lawsuit Reform and The Texas Coalition for Affordable Insurance Solutions (TCAIS), which represents major homeowners insurance companies doing business in Texas, praised the passage of HB 1774.