One question I get asked by clients after a storm has damaged their home is: “Can I start making repairs?” This can be a difficult question as the real-world factors of cost, time, availability of materials, and labor are important considerations. It is also important to understand how repairs can affect your insurance claim as most residential insurance policies I deal with include what appear to be contradicting duties to mitigate and the duty to allow the insurance company to inspect.
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Rene Sigman – Head of Texas Litigation

Rene Sigman of Merlin Law Group has been appointed to an elite group of attorneys and judges working on Model Case Management Orders designed to streamline insurance cases following natural disasters. The Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System issued a press release which stated in part:

IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, with the support of a grant from the American College of Trial Lawyers, is leading a new initiative to expedite this recovery process for everyone involved—the victims seeking recovery, the insurance industry, and the legal system. Together with nationally renowned attorneys from all perspectives— including plaintiff and defense, FEMA, the Texas U.S. Attorney’s office, and state and federal judges—IAALS is developing streamlined, pattern protocols for discovery in first-party insurance cases arising from disasters, both natural and man-made.
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Hurricane Harvey victims along the Gulf Coast continue to fight for proper claims treatment from Texas Windstorm Insurance Association—better known as TWIA. On August 27, 2018, KPRC Channel 2 News Houston profiled the ongoing problems property owners are facing with their TWIA claims.

KPRC Channel 2 News Houston interviewed me as part of its ongoing

Hurricane Harvey

Those affected by Hurricane Harvey may recall the massive and widespread flooding, tornado bursts, and extreme wind speeds reaching 130 mph or higher. To many, it is an overwhelming and still very present memory. Were you affected by Harvey? Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on August 25, 2017, as a Category 4 hurricane and caused widespread destruction throughout the greater Houston area and surrounding counties. Harvey’s one-year anniversary is around the corner and for some, that means the deadline to file your claim with your insurance provider is almost here.
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2017 wasn’t the best year for Houston Texas. Due to the unprecedented rain fall that occurred during Hurricane Harvey, the Barker Reservoir and the Addicks Reservoir—both located off of Highway 6 in Houston—quickly filled to their maximum capacity. In an effort to protect the greater Houston area from experiencing even worse flood inundation, the US Army Corps of Engineers—the federal government entity responsible for management of the reservoirs—intentionally released the flood gates on the reservoirs, causing severe flood inundation to thousands of homes and businesses that had never flooded, were not in a flood zone, and had no reason to expect that level of damage.
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One certain way FEMA and National Flood Administrators get out of paying otherwise valid flood insurance claims is to require strict and timely requirements. Citing an internally generated and fraudulent 99% closure statistic, the National Flood Program denied a request to extend the timeline for filing Proofs of Loss for Hurricane Harvey, Irma, and Maria victims.
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As advocates for victims whose lives have been turned upside down as a result of the devastating flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and Hurricane Maria, we know that one year may not be enough time for flood victims to obtain the estimates and documents necessary to submit their required proof of loss form to FEMA or their flood insurance company.
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The majority of insurance policyholders do not realize that their property insurance policy may contain an appraisal provision. Insurance companies attempt to use appraisal provisions to impose unnecessary burdens on insureds and to eliminate the insureds potential to file a lawsuit against the insurance company and its adjusters for violations of the Texas Insurance Code, among other causes of action.
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