This summer, a carrier asked a Houston federal court to declare that a fire was intentional, voiding the policy and removing carrier’s liability to the insured. The insured countered with a claim for breach of contract and sought sanctions for spoliation of evidence. The Court held that the carrier had a duty to preserve samples obtained by its investigator during its investigation and used its inherent power to sanction the carrier for pre-action destruction of evidence.1

Continue Reading Texas Insurers Have a Duty to Preserve Evidence Collected During Pre-Litigation Investigation

Several Texas news outlets discussed a report from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) which stated that homeowners insurance premiums in Texas have gone up 21 percent since 2009. Texas Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman presented figures to a Senate committee recently showing that the average premium on a homeowners policy in Texas last year was $1,412. The report found that the average loss on an insurance claim in Texas is among the highest in the country, which contributed to high premiums.

Continue Reading Texas Home Insurance Rates Up 21% Since 2009

Banks and mortgage companies regularly buy what is known in the insurance world as “force-placed” insurance coverage. This type of coverage protects a mortgagee’s interest in the property should no other insurance coverage apply. In other words, force-placed insurance ensures that a property is covered, regardless of the circumstances. Most force-placed policies are made between the bank/mortgage company and the insurer. So what rights, if any, does a borrower have under such a policy?

Continue Reading Third Party Beneficiary Status Under a Force-Placed in Texas

It was about a year ago when I reported that Texas led the nation for highest insurance premiums in 2010. Well, the results are in for 2011 and Texas has once again topped the nation as the state with the highest insurance premiums in the land. Roger Mares of KTXS News reports that Texas homeowners pay an average of $1,511 annually for their home insurance. That’s $50 more than Florida, the state that came in second place.

Continue Reading Texas Homeowners Pay the Highest Insurance Premiums for the Second Year in a Row!

On Friday, July 15, 2011, the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner issued a ruling stating that the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) had “violated the insurance laws of the State of Texas….” Specifically, the Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner found that TWIA violated state law by deceiving and taking advantage of TWIA policyholders after thousands of legitimate claims were denied or underpaid. The Commissioner concluded that “such conduct constitutes grounds for disciplinary action.”

Continue Reading Texas Windstorm Insurance Association Found to be in Violation of Texas Law

Recently, a defense attorney in a case I’m working on attempted to inject elements of “The Arson Defense” into the lawsuit. Only problem is, we are not claiming fire damage. However, that got me thinking about the various defenses insurance companies typically use to avoid paying insurance claims. Today, I will discuss “The Arson Defense.”

Continue Reading “The Arson Defense” Used by Insurance Companies Against Texas Policyholders

A special hearing has been set this Friday regarding Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) Hurricane Ike litigation following TWIA being placed under administrative oversight. The Texas Department of Insurance has the power to place TWIA under its control during a time of crisis. Apparently, new information provided to the Department of Insurance lead to the finding that TWIA is in a condition hazardous to the public or to its policyholders.

Continue Reading TWIA Taken Over By Texas Insurance Commissioner’s Ruling

An “all-risk” insurance policy provides coverage for all fortuitous losses, less enumerated exclusions. Imperial Ins. Co. v. Ellington, 498 S.W. 2d 368, 371 (Tex. App.- San Antonio 1973, writ denied). Generally under an all-risk policy, the insured need only prove a fortuitous event resulted in a loss. Id. at 375. If the all-risk policy excludes coverage, the insurer must prove that the loss is excluded. Texas Ins. Code § 554.002.

Continue Reading Texas Judges Need to Recognize That Insurance Companies Have to Prove Exclusions: Dispelling the Myths of Insurance Texas All Risk Coverage Burdens