For Hail Claims layers, the Western District, Waco Division, issued an opinion in April 2017, that needs to be read.  It is styled, Stephen Hahn v. United Fire and Casualty Company.

Hahn suffered hail damage to his property after a recent hail storm and made a claim for damages.  United Fire denied the claim based on their assertion that the damage was not segregated from the damage occurring in the recent storm and prior damage.  They also denied based on the damage only being cosmetic in nature.

Hahn filed suit for breach of contract and insurance code violations and United Fire eventually filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to have the case dismissed.

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.

Insurance lawyers understand subrogation policies.  Courthouse News Service published an article on April 18, 2017, that should be read.  It is titled, Justices Back Insurance Subrogation Policies.

Reinforcing insurance subrogation provisions, the U.S. Supreme Court was unanimous Tuesday that federal regulations clearly put state laws second to such policies.

The case stems from efforts by Missouri postal worker Jodie Nevils to keep the proceeds of his car-crash settlement out of the hands of the insurance company that already paid him $6,000.00.

Bad Faith insurance lawyers got a favorable ruling in the Texas Supreme Court recently.  This is discussed in an article published by the Claims Journal.  It is titled, Texas High Court Establishes Clear Rules For Breach Of Contract, Bad Faith Suits Against Insurers.

In an effort to clear up confusion as a result of past decisions, the Texas Supreme Court announced five rules that “address the relationship between contract claims under an insurance policy and tort claims under the Insurance Code.”

The clarification was part of an opinion issued earlier this month.  The case is styled USAA Texas Lloyd’s Company v. Gail Menchaca.

Mineral Wells attorneys who handle underinsured motorist claims need to read this Austin Court of Appeals opinion.  It is styled, Johnson v. State Farm Automobile Insurance Company.

This suit arises from a suit brought by Jerry Johnson seeking declarations construing the terms of two insurance policies following an automobile accident in which Jerry’s son, Jacob, was injured while Jerry was driving.

In 2008, Jerry and Jacob were traveling in Colorado in a rented car driven by Jerry when Jerry caused an accident which severely injured his 11 year old son. Jacob.  Jacob lived with his parents at the time of the accident and remained in the home until May 29, 2015, when he permanently moved out of the residence.  Jerry had an auto policy and an umbrella policy with State Farm.  The auto policy contains a provision, the “family member exclusion,” that excludes from liability coverage bodily injury to “any family member, except to the extent of the minimum limits of Liability Coverage required” by the Texas Motor Vehicle Safety-Responsibility Act, which was $25,000 at the time.  “Family member” is defined as “a person who is a resident of your household and related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption.”  The umbrella policy has a similar provision.  Jerry sought coverage under both policies.  State Farm refused coverage beyond the $25,000.00 minimum.

Life Insurance Lawyers in the Dallas and Fort Worth area will see situations on a regular basis where the person who died had a life insurance policy naming the other spouse as the beneficiary – but there was a divorce later and the policy naming the ex-spouse was never changed.  What to do?  This is discuss in a National Review article titled, Divorces Can Be Messy … For Life Insurers.

Divorces are often characterized as “messy” for good reason.  While divorce proceedings can prove particularly challenging for the individual participants, they can also pose challenges for those adjudicating competing life insurance claims when the decedent insured’s ex-spouse, who has been designated as a policy beneficiary, claims a right to the death benefit instead of the surviving spouse, the insured’s estate or a secondary beneficiary.

Divorce-related life insurance disputes can end up before courts in litigation over the decedent insured’s estate, in litigation brought by a purported beneficiary against the insurance company, or in inter-pleader actions filed by the insurer.  In an inter-pleader action, the insurance company files a petition with the court seeking an order determining, for instance, which spouse – surviving or ex – is entitled to the decedent insured’s policy proceeds following a divorce.

Insurance lawyers needs to know about this ERISA case.  It is from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, and is styled, Houston Metro And Spine Surgery Center, LLC v. BlueCross BlueShield of Illinois, et al.

Houston Metro alleges BCBS failed to pay for medical services it provided under its patients’ health benefit plans.  Hoston Metro sued under a promissory estoppel claim under Texas law, based on the allegation that Houston Metro provided the medical services only after BCBC represented that the patient and procedure were covered by a health benefit plan and that Houston Metro would be paid in accordance with that plan.  BCBS moved to dismiss the claim based on it being preempted by ERISA.

Section 1132(a) allows an ERISA plan’s participants and beneficiaries to sue “to recover benefits due to him under the terms of the plan, to enforce his rights under the terms or the plan, or to clarify his right to future benefits under the terms of the plan.”  The United States Supreme Court has read 1132 to preempt any state law cause of action that duplicates, supplements, or supplants the ERISA civil enforcement scheme.

Parker county insurance lawyers will see lots of homeowners claims resulting from hail damage claims.  When this occurs and the insurance company does not want to pay the claim and a lawsuit is filed, the likely result is the insurance company trying to have the case heard in Federal Court.  An Eastern District, Sherman Division opinion deals with this situation.  The opinion is styled, Lopez v. Allstate Vehicle and Property Insurance Company.

When a hail storm hit the Lopez home, a claim was filed with Allstate.  The adjuster, Gary Harbison was assigned to investigate the claim and he concluded there was no damage and any potential damage had occurred prior to the storm.  A lawsuit was filed and Harbison was sued with the allegations against him being that he conducted a substandard and improper investigation, that he was scared of losing his job, and he was fraudulent in his report because the Lopez’s public adjuster had found much more damage.  Lopez claims damages totaling $30,646.73.

The lawsuit was filed in Denton County Court alleging breach of contract, violations of the Texas DTPA, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code, fraud, negligence, and gross negligence.

ERISA lawyers can tell you how important the administrative record is when fighting adverse determinations in ERISA cases.  This is illustrated in a 2017 case from the U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, Houston Division.  The opinion is styled, Elaine Wilson v. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas.

This case is before the Court on a Motion for Summary Judgment filed by BCBS.  The Court ruled in favor of BCBS.  BCBS insured Wilson under a group health plan which is organized under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, and provides for impatient hospital expenses, medical and surgical expenses, and preventative care.  The Plan specifies that coverage does not extend to, in relevant part, the following:

1. Any services or supplies which are not Medically Necessary and essential to the diagnosis or direct care and treatment of a sickness, injury, condition, disease, or bodily malfunction.

Exhausting administrative remedies is the law when it comes to ERISA claims.  This is again illustrated in a 2017 opinion from the U.S. 5th Circuit.  The opinion is styled, Memorial Hermann Health System v. Southwest LTC, Limited Employee Benefits Plan; Southwest LTC, Limited.

Memorial sued Southwest seeking payment of medical bills incurred by a patient covered by a Southwest health benefits plan.  The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Southwest, concluding that Memorial failed to exhaust administrative remedies.  This appeal followed.

The patient, C.W., was covered by an ERISA governed plan managed by Southwest.  Maritain was the third party administrator.  C.W. incurred over $400,000 in medical bills as a patient at Memorial.  C.W. assigned her insurance benefits to Memorial, who sought collection from Maritain.