On April 18, 2018, the Texas Commissioner of Insurance issued Order No. 2018-5463, extending the deadline for a Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) policyholder to demand appraisal on their Hurricane Harvey claim. Harvey made landfall in Texas and affected several parts of the Greater Houston area as well as several coastal areas from August 25 to August 30, 2017.

The Commissioner’s Order No. 2018-5463 will have the effect of further extending strict deadlines for TWIA policyholders and provide the opportunity for recovery in situations where policyholder’s may have come very close to blowing a deadline necessary to obtain insurance proceeds.

What does this mean for you?

First, understand that not all policyholders will be affected—and therefore not benefit—from this extension. This particular extension applies to TWIA policyholders only. More commonly referred to as a “coverage of last resort,” TWIA policies provide wind and hail coverage for several Texas coastal wind properties. The properties situated in designated catastrophe areas and eligible for TWIA coverage include all fourteen first-tier coastal counties (Aransas, Brazoria, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Galveston, Jefferson, Kenedy, Kleberg, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, and Willacy) and a portion of Harris County located east of State Highway 146. Many of TWIA’s policies, deadlines, requirements, and procedures differ from a more traditional homeowner policy.

If you maintain TWIA coverage and were affected by Hurricane Harvey, here’s what you need to know about how these deadlines impact your claims process. The deadline to file your claim with TWIA is within one year from the date you incurred damage to your property. For Harvey victims, this would be a year after the date your property was damaged by Harvey. Once your clam is filed, TWIA will either accept or deny your claim, in full or in part. What occurs next is a critical deadline of which has been extended.

The newly extended deadlines are as follows:

  • If TWIA accepts your claim in full or in part:
    • Policyholders filing under certain commercial policies will have 150 days to demand appraisal; and
    • For all other claims, policyholders will have 180 days to demand appraisal after receiving TWIA’s written notice accepting all or part of a claim arising from Hurricane Harvey.

Previously, the deadlines were 120 days, and the above-mentioned extensions are a welcome addition. TWIA policyholders now have additional time to pursue the policy proceeds they feel they are entitled.

Why is this important? Because if you miss the deadline by which you are required to demand appraisal you will lose your ability to seek resolution of your claim by those means—and it is your exclusive remedy.

What about filing a lawsuit? Under TWIA policies, if TWIA accepts all or part of your claim—and the dispute is the amount you were paid, your exclusive remedy is appraisal. You are stripped of your ability to file a lawsuit—therefore it is imperative you understand and comply with the deadlines imposed.

If you need assistance determining whether your TWIA claim was accepted in full or in part—or if it was denied in full or in part—contact a knowledgeable insurance attorney.