A few weeks ago, I wrote about State Representative John Smithee’s letter to Texas Department of Insurance (“TDI”) Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman, in which he expressed his concerns over the solvency of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (“TWIA”). Rep. Smithee, along with insurance professional David Crump, assessed data showing that TWIA would be unable to pay its policyholders’ claims in the event of a severe catastrophe.
When you think about hail damage in Texas, many of you probably think about the hail storm that hit the Dallas area a few months back. However, Dallas isn’t the only city in Texas ravaged by a severe hail storm recently. McAllen, Texas, is still suffering the effects of not one, but two hail storms that passed through in March and April.
The Texas Department of Insurance issued a bulletin this week indicating it is targeting contractors and roofing companies that "have been advertising or performing acts that would require them to hold a public insurance adjuster license." The bulletin provided grounds for the public warning:
It has come to the attention of the Texas Department of Insurance that a number of contractors, roofing companies, and other individuals and entities not licensed by the department have been advertising or performing acts that would require them to hold a public insurance adjuster license. Additionally, the department has learned that the tactics used by these unlicensed individuals include visiting neighborhoods and areas of the state where languages other than English are commonly spoken. These unlicensed individuals often prey on unknowing consumers by promising to ‘work’ insurance claims to achieve a higher settlement.
If you wanted to find out whether an attorney you were thinking about hiring has ever been disciplined by the Texas Bar, you can find that information online. It is made available to the public by the Texas Bar. The same goes for doctors, nurses, and a bunch of other licensed professionals whose overseeing regulators make such information available.
As expected, the Texas Department of Insurance – the government regulator in charge of overseeing the insurance industry (also known as “protecting the public”) – has approved Allstate Texas Lloyd’s request to raise rates across Texas by 5.7%. The Texas Department of Insurance has the ability to deny any requested rate hike if it determines that the rate increase is excessive, discriminatory, or inadequate. Kristen Beaman, an Allstate spokesperson, said that the Texas Department of Insurance has decided to take no action on recent increases.
Does anybody think that TWIA is doing a "good job" of adjusting hurricane claims other than the private member insurance companies on TWIA’s Board of Directors? In a prior post, TWIA Insurance Claims Under Investigation by Regulators and Media, I noted that the Texas Department of Insurance attorneys are conducting an investigation into activities of TWIA’s claims conduct. The Houston Chronicle’s Purva Patel has been doing her own outstanding investigative reporting which is providing shocking and needed transparency into the real world activities that have gone on in the field concerning TWIA’s claims conduct and the motives behind it.
Back in April, an attorney in our Houston, Texas, office, Javier Delgado, wrote a post for this blog warning TWIA policyholders to be careful when choosing how to challenge a TWIA determination of damage to property (Don’t Be Fooled By Texas Windstorm Insurance Association’s Misleading Letter).
The seminar our firm hosted for public adjusters went extremely well, with very practical information exchanged between adjusters, engineers, and attorneys. The Texas Department of Insurance had an attorney from its enforcement division attend. I felt it was a significant learning experience for her as well. Most people do not understand how complicated evaluating damage and investigating coverage matters can be. I am certain anybody not familiar with claims handling who attends one our claims seminars quickly appreciates that insurance adjusting is a demanding job….if done correctly and ensuring that full benefits are paid promptly.
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.