Introduction: The Texas Department of Insurance (“TDI”) has adopted rules amending the Consumer Bill of Rights for personal automobile and homeowners’ insurance.1 See 28 TAC §5.9971(b). Insurers must begin providing the new Bill of Rights to insureds by November 15, 2021. The Bill of Rights is a summary of a policyholder’s rights and is not a part of a policyholder’s policy. Additionally, Texas Senate Bill 1376 has been enacted to exempt 18 kinds of commercial insurance policies from rate and form filing requirements. This new legislation applies on or after September 1, 2021, to policies delivered, issued for delivery, or renewed. In addition, Texas Senate Bill 965 amends rate filing requirements for residential property and personal automobile insurers with low market shares and applies on or after to January 1, 2022, to delivered, issued or renewed policies.
Continue Reading Texas Amended Consumer/Homeowners Bill of Rights and Other Recent Legislation

The Policy: Plaintiffs, Frymire Home Services, Inc. and Whitfield Capital LLC (collectively “Plaintiffs”), purchased a commercial policy for their office building in Dallas, Texas from Defendant Ohio Security Insurance Company (“OSIC”). The policy explicitly covered “windstorm and hail” losses but excluded “cosmetic” damage to the roof as well as the standard insurer defense for non-payment—“wear and tear.”
Continue Reading “Wear and Tear” or “Wind and Hail” or Both: Fifth Circuit Certifies Questions to Texas Supreme Court Regarding the Doctrine of Concurrent Causation

INTRODUCTION: Appraisal provisions have been a feature of insurance policies in Texas for well over a century.1 Indeed, in the Texas Supreme Court’s 2009 opinion of State Farm Lloyds v. Johnson, the court noted that it has only addressed insurance appraisal provisions a total of five times between 1888 and 2002.2 Since Johnson, insurance appraisal law has grown substantially and now has claimed a front-row seat in Texas property insurance coverage litigation. The Randel case, discussed below, is the most recent appraisal opinion.
Continue Reading Texas Appraisal Law Update

As a Merlin Law Group Texas attorney, I have the distinct privilege of working directly with Rene Sigman, the Regional Litigation Manager running the firm’s Texas operation. As a mentor, Rene has gone above and beyond to show me the complex ropes for handling first-party property insurance cases in Texas. Rene’s unparalleled work ethic coupled with her passion for our clients’ best interest was more than apparent recently when we recovered multiple favorable settlements for commercial and residential policyholders. During this time, we noticed something interesting about one of the insured’s contracts with her public adjuster. The contract was incomplete and did not comply with the Texas Administrative Code, which governs public insurance adjuster contracts.
Continue Reading Texas Public Insurance Adjuster Contract Requirements

It’s been a few months since we endured Winter Storm Uri. The storm had people stranded in the cold with no electricity, heat, or running water. Families were huddling around each other for warmth in parked cars and boiling water in their homes to drink. At the time of the storm, much of the focus was on the electric grid of Texas and why the infrastructure failed us in a time of need. Now, as claims come in, we are seeing an abundance of damage that is left unrepaired, unresolved, and overall unappreciated.
Continue Reading The Cold Truth About the Texas Winter Storm

The case found closest to the fact pattern above is Ironwood Building II. Ltd. v. Axis Surplus Insurance Company.1 Read further to find out who prevails in the end—the insured or the insurer.
Continue Reading In Texas, Who Prevails When There Is: 1 Damaged Property Caused By 2 Weather Events, And 2 Damage Claims Filed Under 2 Different Policies From 2 Different Carriers?

About two months ago, Winter Storm Uri left millions of Texans stranded in the cold without water, electricity, or heat. This tragic and historic event arrived abruptly, but it left lingering effects for many. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared this event as a major disaster. Thousands of homeowners and renters incurred property damage or other storm-related costs. FEMA offered assistance to 126 of the 254 counties1 in Texas with an application deadline of April 20, 2021. However, the application deadline has now been extended to May 20, 2021.
Continue Reading FEMA Extends Application Deadline for Texas February Winter Storm Assistance

Commissioner’s Bulletins issued by the Texas Department of Insurance (“TDI”) do not have the force of law of a statute, but they do express and declare TDI’s interpretation or position on certain issues and existing laws. These bulletins also contain recommendations and help insurers and consumers understand how the business of insurance should be conducted in Texas. A review of the most recent Commissioner’s Bulletin B-0010-21 issued on March 9, 2021, provides a good example of a bulletin’s purpose.
Continue Reading Texas Department of Insurance Commissioner’s Bulletins Re: Severe Winter Weather Claims

It has been a chilling sight over the past week in Texas. While not going into work may seem cool, it was the cold that kept everyone from going anywhere. It all started in my hometown of Fort Worth, Texas. At least six people died and dozens were taken to hospitals after an accident involving more than 100 vehicles on a Fort Worth interstate. A pileup that was the most staggering of the crashes that dotted ice-slicked roads across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.1
Continue Reading Frozen Pipe and Water Claims—Are Grid and Power Operators Facing Liability and Subrogation Lawsuits?