I have been involved in a lot of disputed property insurance claims in many venues over the past twenty-five years where emotions run high, but the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is the blue ribbon winner in Texas for policyholders that hate how they have been treated. And, it is not just limited to the customers of TWIA. A number of independent adjusters representing TWIA are ready and willing whistleblowers in lawsuits against TWIA regarding these practices. They are upset as well.
I reported on this last January in my post, Citizens And TWIA Bad Faith Exposed. I further documented it last February in my post, Views From Hurricane Ike TWIA Insurance Adjusters. I made a sarcastic report of it in The Parable of Hurricane Ike Insurance Claims. Then, I suggested that my current client and Ike protest leader, Brenda Cannon Henley, had a valid reason to protest against TWIA in, Texas Windstorm "Slabbers" and Policyholders March on Austin. Indeed, we ran over three separate posts regarding how TWIA was wrongfully adjusting roofing claims. If you simply type “TWIA” in my keyword search to this Blog, TWIA shows up 37 times in 2009. Virtually all of my posts are negative regarding the reports of TWIA claims handling. TWIA makes State Farm and Allstate look like angels regarding claims ethics and satisfaction.
It finally seems as if the local media and Texas regulators are learning what all of us in the claims administration business believe–TWIA claims executives are out of control and its claims management needs to be replaced. Purva Patel of the Houston Chronicle recently reported in, HURRICANE IKE: State Looking into Roof Damage Policy, that Texas regulators started an investigation of TWIA roofing claims:
State regulators are investigating how the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association handles certain roof claims related to Hurricane Ike.
At issue is whether unsealed asphalt shingles are considered damaged, and if so, whether Ike was the cause.
The windstorm association doesn’t always think so. But some homeowners say they have valid claims because Hurricane Ike lifted the shingles on their roofs, breaking the seal that binds shingles to each other.
The Texas Department of Insurance notes that although the association claims such shingles are not necessarily damaged, unsealed shingles would not pass a home inspection that’s required to obtain coverage from the association and to keep coverage if a home is repaired after a storm.
“Because we see that discrepancy, and we think that when a homeowner’s shingles have been adhered, that does constitute damage, we’re pursing an investigation,” said Catherine Reyer, an associate commissioner of enforcement at the department.
The insurance department began investigating in late July and has received 23 complaints against TWIA on the issue.
Yesterday, reporter Mark Greenblatt, of station KHOU published an excellent article regarding an investigation by Texas authorities into TWIA’s unfair and deceptive claims handling:
The Texas Department of Insurance has filed a formal complaint against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association , accusing it of “unfair or deceptive” handling of claims.
In a letter to the State Office of Administrative Hearings, the Department of Insurance says the insurance company could be subject to disciplinary action if the complaint is upheld.
Texas Windstorm is the only insurance option against windstorm damage or hail from hurricanes for consumers who live along coastal sections of the state.
The complaint specifically criticizes how the company handles claims related to wind-lifted roof shingles.
The department’s action comes as KHOU continues its ongoing, two-month investigation of Texas Windstorm’s claims handling practices, and one week after we asked the State why no enforcement action had been taken against the company. At that time, KHOU cited the 724 consumer complaints we found that the Department of Insurance upheld against the company since Hurricane Ike.
You can watch the video broadcast of Mark Greenblatt’s news story by clicking here.
Next Friday, September 11, 2009, our firm will host a seminar for licensed public adjusters in Texas. This event is titled “Hurricane Ike-What a Difference A Year Makes?” and Texas Department of Insurance representative Jack Evans will be a featured speaker at lunch. I will introduce Brenda Henley who will discuss some of the events planned for the memorial of Hurricane Ike.
While I plan to finish teaching public adjusters how to help policyholders prove and present claims at 2 pm, I will finish early if any TWIA executives or claims managers wish to have a civil discussion with experienced and licensed claims adjusters about how they may better adjust TWIA customer claims. The planned informational meeting of the Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (TAPIA) can certainly be delayed to allow for such an important exchange of information.
Everybody who knows me understands that this will not be a lynching, but a civil discussion of issues and concerns. The question is whether TWIA claims executives have the stomach to engage in civil debate with skilled and knowledgeable public adjusters as to how policyholder claims should be handled and paid and about their claims practices that are now under public scrutiny.