Hopefully Texas Hill Country insurance lawyers and their clients read this article in the Austin American Statesman, and reacted to it by calling their respective representatives. The article is titled, Commentary: ‘Blue Tarp Bills’ Threaten Texas Property Owners.
Your property rights are under assault at the Texas Capital. Insurance lobbyists and their allies at the self-styled “Texans for Lawsuit Reform” are pushing legislation that will mean insurance companies pay you as little as late as possible for claims.
House Bill 1774 and Senate Bill 10, better known as the “blue tarp bills,” strengthen the hand of insurance companies in property-claims disputes. The end result is homes, businesses, schools and churches will be blanketed in blue tarps after storms when they’re cheated out of their policy benefits.
Hill Country Texas are no strangers to bad weather and know the stakes. Every year homeowners are paying more in insurance premiums and having their premiums increase, only to have the insurance companies deny claims and wrongly assert the damage is minimal or the result of damage that occurred before the current policy was purchased.
Insurance companies have made over $4,5 billion in profits the last four years. The longer an insurance company can hold onto money instead of paying a claim, the more profits they reap through investments. That is why there are currently laws on the books to protect property owners including homeowners and business owners. Only the ability to enforce strong laws in court helps customers ensure prompt payment of their claims.
The Blue Tarp Bills weaken policyholder protections. The legislation slashes the penalty insurers face for slow payment; forces most insurance disputes into Federal Courts, where it takes twice as long to receive justice; and threatens access to justice for property owners who won’t be made whole if they guess incorrectly before suit about the amount the jury will award. The cost, delay and uncertainty the bills create only works to advantage the insurance company and disadvantage the property owner.
Without the ability to hold your insurance company accountable, you are at their mercy. That is why insurance companies and their lobbyists are pushing these Blue Tarp Bills. Imagine after the next storm hits, calling your insurance company to make your claim and being told “no.” That means a second storm, this second one being created by your insurance company when they say no with no threat or fear of anything bad happening.
Official data shows insurers paid 10 percent fewer hail claims after massive storms and refused to reopen claims files in significant numbers until policyholders were forced to take their claims to court. These trends will only worsen if insurers face less accountability for cheating their customers with no significant penalties.
Texans don’t want this. Studies show the overwhelming majority of Texans want to maintain policyholder legal rights. This support was common regardless of political beliefs.
Readers should contact their respective legislators and let them know you are against these Blue Tarp Bills.