Texas Bad Faith Insurance Lawyers
You purchased home insurance for a simple reason — to protect your valuables and property if disaster should strike.
Naturally, you expect your insurer to keep their end of the bargain and provide you with coverage, security, and protection when you need it most. Unfortunately, insurance companies don’t always work that way.
Insurance companies are businesses. Like any business, their ultimate goal is the growth of their bottom line. There are a number of tactics insurance companies may use to wrongly deny, delay, or underpay your insurance claim.
The national litigation team of Hotze Runkle has the experience, knowledge, and compassion to help you deal with insurance companies acting in bad faith. You deserve justice and the insurance benefits that are rightfully yours. Let the lawyers of Hotze Runkle fight for you.
What is bad faith insurance?
Bad faith insurance is when an insurer avoids paying out policy benefits that a policyholder is legally entitled to. There are a number of bad faith insurance tactics used which are generally unethical, illegal, and classified as a breach of contract.
If you have kept up with paying your monthly insurance premiums in a timely manner, promptly filed a claim meeting insurer requirements, and own a policy that specifically covers your losses, then your insurer must act in good faith and pay out benefits accordingly. Your insurer failing to do so may be grounds for legal action.
In order to best protect yourself, it is important to understand what your insurer can do in the event of you filing a claim:
- Investigate and question the claim.
- Withhold payment until the investigation has been completed.
- Legally deny a claim for a valid reason.
What is the timeframe for the claims process and payment?
The time limit to process and pay your claim varies from state to state. The insurance claim process also depends on you filing in a timely manner and providing your insurer with the requested paperwork promptly.
Still, most states have fair claim practice laws that require your insurer to handle your claim in a reasonable amount of time. If the insurance company does not meet their deadlines, you have the right to collect annual interest (as per your state’s law) and attorney’s fees.
- In the state of Texas, your insurance company must acknowledge receipt of your claim within 15 calendar days and request any additional information related to your claim within that time frame. Within 15 days after receiving all requested information, your insurer must approve or deny the claim in writing.
- Texas law does allow for insurance companies to extend this deadline by up 45 days if it notifies you that more time is needed and for reasonable purposes.
- After notifying you that our claim has been approved, your insurer must pay out the claim within 5 business days.
- Please keep in mind: If your claim is the result of a weather-related catastrophe or other major natural disaster as defined by TDI, your insurance company may take 45 additional days to approve or deny your claim and an additional 15 days to pay your claim out.
How do I know if my insurer is acting in bad faith?
While it can be easy to become frustrated with your insurer and assume the worse, it is important to recognize that not every action they take is considered bad faith in a court of law.
While you may have a different opinion about what is owed to you following a home insurance claim, if your insurer’s offer is based on accurate analysis of the loss, they are not acting in bad faith.
However, if you have taken the necessary steps in following your insurer’s requirements throughout the claims process for a legitimate claim, it is important to speak immediately with the experienced bad faith insurance lawyers of Hotze Runkle.
Some additional bad faith tactics insurance companies use to deny claims include:
- Denying coverage without properly investigating claim first.
- Canceling your policy after you make a claim.
- Delaying investigation or payment of your claim.
- Failing to act on the claim within legally allotted time.
- Requesting an unreasonable amount of paperwork in order to let statute of limitation expire.
- Misrepresenting what policy covers during initial purchase.
- Falsifying policy language to deny your claim.
- Falsifying laws regarding insurance coverage to deny your claim.
- Unresponsive insurance adjuster not returning your efforts for contact.
- Changing adjuster mid-claim to lengthen negotiations period.
- Failure to provide you the necessary paperwork or information to complete claims process.
- Claiming file has been misplaced or lost.
As long as your home insurance policy covers the damage and you have paid your premiums fully on a timely basis, your insurer is legally bound to meet their obligations.
If your insurer has acted in any of the manners listed above, this may constitute insurance bad faith and you should immediately contact the national litigation team of Hotze Runkle to find out if you have a case.
What is a claims adjuster?
Claims adjusters are the insurance company’s representative who is going to help process your claim. The claims adjuster will investigate, process, and negotiate a claim to determine how much is owed to you.
As employees of the insurance company, claims adjusters will attempt to work the claim in a manner that best benefits the insurance company. Often times, they are trained in claims evaluation techniques that work towards minimizing payment or denying the claim.
Tip: During the claims process, do not air out your frustrations to the claims adjuster as this could imply that you are simply an irate customer. If you feel like your claims adjuster is acting unprofessionally towards you, request to speak with their manager and discuss your issues with them. While it’s understandable that you might be angry and annoyed, avoid inappropriate behavior as this can hurt your dealings with the insurance company.
The First Steps In Your Fight
It is your responsibility to prove that the insurance company acted in bad faith. There are a number of steps you will want to take in the initial stages before and after filing a claim:
- Review your insurance policy to understand what is covered.
- Inspect your home for damage.
- Make emergency repairs to prevent further damage (insurance companies will attempt to shift blame on you for failing to so).
- Make a list of damaged and lost possessions.
- Take photos, and video if possible, of damaged property.
- File you claim.
- Keep detailed records of your contact with your insurer.
- Request to speak with your claims adjuster’s manager.
- Provide them the details of your situation.
- Maintain quality records of all communication that occurs between you and the insurance company’s reps.
- Notes should include the time, day, names of individuals you spoke with and key points of conversation.
- Provide your insurer a certified copy of these notes and inform them you will seek legal support.
- Every state will have a different department to help you file a complaint. In the state of Texas, you can file a formal complaint against your insurer through Texas Department of Insurance.
If there is no resolution after filing a complaint, you will need to contact our bad faith insurance lawyers at Hotze Runkle.
When should I seek legal action?
Threatening your insurer with a lawsuit immediately after a denial can make you appear as a disgruntled claimant. However, if you have taken the necessary steps, following your insurer’s requirements throughout the claims process for a legitimate claim, it is in your best interest to speak immediately with the experienced bad faith insurance lawyers of Hotze Runkle.
We can help to obtain
- Claims benefits
- Statutory damages
- Attorney fees
- Emotional distress damages