Many of you may recall that, during the Spring of 2016, many parts of Texas were hit with storms of varying severity that caused significant property damage. Some of the resulting insurance claims that arose from those storms have dragged on, including a number that simply fell by the wayside as both carriers and adjusters were pulled away to focus on the hurricanes that wracked so many states in 2017.
However, the contractual statute of limitations period is fast upon us, and anyone who still has an outstanding claim must consider whether to file a lawsuit or not immediately. For example, April 11, 2018, will be the two-year anniversary of a hail storm that hit Plano, Texas and its surrounding areas in 2016.
This is important date because most Texas insurance policies contain a provision that requires policyholders to file any lawsuit within two years of the loss event. A typical policy has a provision that states:
No one may bring a legal action against us under this Coverage Part unless:
- There has been full compliance with all of the terms of this Coverage Part; and
- The action is brought within 2 years after the date on which the direct physical loss or damage occurred.
The precise amount of time that insurance companies provide to file suit varies – most reputable carrier provide anywhere from two years to three years and one day.
The contract language is important because the policy’s time limitation is often more severe than that provided by Texas law. Section 541.162 of the Texas Insurance Code and Section 17.565 of the Texas Business and Commerce code each permit an insured to file a lawsuit until two years after the bad faith or deceptive conduct either occurred or was discovered. The clock doesn’t start running until you have a reason to file a lawsuit, and these bad acts occur days, weeks, or months after the loss event. This provides consumers with more leeway.
Regardless, you should not take comfort in these statutory time limits until you’ve reviewed your policy, because the policy’s time limit will typically be enforced in Texas.
Litigation may or may not be an appropriate course of action in any matter, and you should carefully consider all alternatives. However, your ability to consider litigation regarding claims arising from 2016 weather events is closing soon. I urge anyone with a claim lingering from 2016 to speak with an attorney as quickly as is possible about the full range of options.