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

As is their custom, several major insurance companies have recently announced that they will be raising Texas insurance rates across the board. Last month, the Houston Chronicle reported that Farmers Insurance plans a 3.9 percent statewide hike that will affect about 324,000 Texas customers. Farmers stated that the increase was “in response to increasing costs of paying claims, especially weather related claims.” Farmers Insurance customers will see the increase take effect starting March 16, 2011.

Continue Reading Holiday Gift from Insurance Companies to Texas Residents? Higher Insurance Rates!

Texas and Florida insurance companies wanting to preserve coverage disagreements and dispute appraisal awards have one thing in common–requests for itemized appraisal awards. Insurance policies have no provision for such itemizations. In construction practice, nobody accepts or places bids with the lowest line by line bid. Only the bottom line counts. Even in jury trials, the itemization of jury verdicts is far shorter than what the insurance companies are having their attorneys ask for in front of judges.

Continue Reading Requests for Itemized and Line By Line Appraisal Awards Become More Common

Recently, I was discussing my job with a non-lawyer friend. I told him that I typically pursue claims against insurance companies on behalf of policyholders for a variety of reasons, including “unfair insurance practices.” At that point, he asked about “unfair insurance practices” because he didn’t know what that meant. His question made me think about how lawyers use terms such “unfair insurance practices” when communicating with clients without ever considering that their clients may not actually know what those terms mean. For my friend’s benefit, and anyone else who does not already know what “unfair insurance practices” means, here is some of what “unfair insurance practices” encompasses.

Continue Reading Unfair Insurance Practices in Texas

The Texas Supreme Court released an interesting ruling recently. Many were intrigued by it because it appeared to be counterintuitive at first glance. In State Farm Lloyds et al. v. Page, No. 08-0799, 2010 WL 2331460 (Tex. June 11, 2010), the Court decided that mold damage to a woman’s personal property was covered in a standard homeowner’s insurance policy, but damage to her home was not.

Continue Reading Texas Supreme Court Retreats From Its Previous Broad Mold Exclusion Ruling

I have previously written about how an insurance company can waive its right to appraisal by taking too long to invoke it, but are there other ways an insurance company can waive its right to an appraisal? For example, does an insurance company waive its right to appraisal when it recognizes some but not all of the damages claimed by the insured? What if the insurer anticipatorily breaches the insurance contract? The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas recently weighed in on this issue in Boone v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Indiana, No. H-09-1613, 2010 WL 2303311 (S.D. Tex. June 7, 2010).

Continue Reading Waiver of Right to an Appraisal in Texas: Additional Arguments

It’s a sad truth that building owners have to worry about burglars breaking into their buildings to steal copper wire and pipes. Many insurance companies don’t cover damage as a result of theft, but a lot of them do cover any damage related to burglars breaking in and exiting a building. However, a recent case from the Texas Court of Appeals demonstrates that you may not be covered for everything you thought you were.

Continue Reading Texas Insurance Law: Vandalism Coverage and Theft Exclusions