Sending a proper notice letter is the first step in a legal process against an insurance company when an insured believes the insurer has improperly handled a claim. This is even more relevant under the new section of the Insurance Code, Section 542A.003. This is also required in Section 541.154. This requirement was the subject of a recent Southern District of Texas, Corpus Christi opinion styled, Libardo Taboada, et al v. State Farm Lloyds, et al.
In this case, Taboada had five opportunities to comply with the substantive requirements of notice letters. First, he could have complied when he gave the original pre-suit notice on August 21, 2018.
Second, he could have complied after State Farm filed its verified plea in abatement as required by Section 542A.005(c). But, Taboada did nothing. His failure to file an affidavit in response made abatement pending the service of a new letter automatic under that Section.
Third, Taboada could have complied after the Court found the pre-suit notice letter insufficient. On February 8, 2019, the Court granted State Farm’s motion to abate with an Order requiring a new notice letter and the filing of a statement of compliance within five days of serving the new notice letter. Neither was done with due diligence. The statement of due diligence was not filed at all. The new notice was dated June 19, 2019, four months after the Order requiring it.
Fourth, Toboada could have complied after the Court found the second letter insufficient. The Court set another deadline of August 8, 2019, for serving a revised notice letter in compliance with the statute and for Toboada to file a statement of compliance by August 9, 2019. Again, Toboada filed a non-compliant notice letter and it was filed 21 days after the deadline set by the Court.
Fifth, Toboada could have filed a compliant notice letter after State Farm filed another motion to dismiss and as of the date of September 5, 2019, Toboada had not filed a proper notice letter. Further, Toboada was informed specifically of the deficiencies and he refused to correct them.
In this case, Toboada made numerous other errors in the paperwork related to the notice letter and the Court discusses those errors in the opinion.
Bottom line – a proper notice letter must be given if you want to have your day in Court.