The Round-up: The Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters (“TAPIA”) has lassoed and corralled a great group of speakers and events that you absolutely will not want to miss this fall in Fort Worth. If you register by August 31st, members will only have to “pony-up” $149 and non-member, first timers $195. If you don’t have a bed roll or pup-tent to pitch, early registration is already open at Embassy Suites Downtown Fort Worth at 600 Commerce Street. You can save a nickel at Embassy Suites if you register by September 16th and mention “TAPIA” to get a TAPIA rate. Register either on line or call (817) 332-6900.
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The infamous “Hail Bill” will be celebrating its second birthday this September 1, 2019. Whether there will be any celebrations is another question. The “Hail Bill” – the Chapter 542A amendment to the Texas Insurance Code—covers first-party claims arising from “forces of nature.”1 Within that chapter, one notably section is 542A.006, which allows an insurer to elect to assume its agent’s civil liability for the agent’s conduct related to the handling of a claim. This section has been seeing a lot of litigation of late.
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Current Justices of the Texas Supreme Court

The Texas Supreme Court recently answered the question above in two cases with different results depending on what type of insurance code violations the insured is alleging. The court addressed Texas Insurance Code chapter 542 violations (often called prompt payment of claims) in Barbara Technologies Corporation v. State Farm Lloyds.1
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Rene Sigman – Head of Texas Litigation

Rene Sigman of Merlin Law Group’s Houston office was getting some pretty good results for clients this week when she sent me a Texas Supreme Court appraisal case which makes delaying insurers more accountable for inaccurate or plain wrongful estimates of the benefits owed to policyholders. All this Texas good news had me thinking “Yippee-Yi-Yo-Ki-Yay!”
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The Problem: Waiving insurance policy deductibles (“you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours”) has been common place in Texas since 1989 and came about as the result of a poorly worded statute passed that same year that contractors have basically ignored. Contractors who have broken the 1989 law by waving deductibles (primarily roofing contractors) are known as “deductible eaters.” Homeowners were lured into signing contracts with the deductible eaters based on promises, for example, of a “free roof.” And then, homeowners/policyholders were duped into committing insurance fraud when in submitting a request pursuant to their policy for replacement cost (RCV) hold-back, they failed to tell their insurance company that the deductible part of the claim had not been incurred. What this means, again for example, before the new law, is that the roof job a homeowner got where the $2000 deductible was waived or “forgiven” and buried in other ways in the contractor’s paperwork, will now be required as payment out-of-pocket and proof that it was paid before the insurer will pay the RCV hold-back.
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If your home was burglarized, would you sit back and do nothing? No. You would likely call the police or law enforcement to report the burglary, and hope they find your stolen property. If the police arrested the person who stole your property, would you let that person off without punishment, accountability, and repayment for your stolen property? Hopefully not – you would hold them accountable because they violated the law, and took something that belonged to you – they deprived you of your property that you worked hard to earn and purchase.

So why wouldn’t you hold the insurance company, adjusters, or other insurance personnel accountable if they violate the law? Maybe you didn’t know that you could, but you can, which is why its incredibly important to know your rights under the Texas Insurance Code.
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The phrase, it’s a brand-new ballgame, was popularized by Hall of Fame Dodgers’ Broadcaster, Vin Scully; when a team scores a run that brings the score up to a tie, announcers say: “It’s a brand-new ballgame.”

Texas Insurance Code Section 542A.006, effective December 1, 2017, allows insurers to accept liability for the acts of their adjusters either before suit is filed or after suit is filed. If the election of liability is made before suit is filed, the in-state defendant adjuster never becomes a party if suit is filed eventually. If the election is made after suit is filed, the court must dismiss the adjusters from the suit.
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