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Harvey Insurance Claims: File Before Sept. 1st!

Lawyers are warning hurricane victims that failing to file their Harvey insurance claims by the 1st could result in lost money.
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Photo Credit: NBC News

With Harvey’s rains still bearing down on coastal Texas, the last thing anyone has on their mind is filing Harvey insurance claims paperwork. No one wants to think about bureaucratic red tape when lives hang in the balance. First and foremost, we advocate that you put safety first and don’t engage in unnecessary travel or high-risk activities.

That being said . . .

Texas passed a law, which takes effect September 1st, that will impact hurricane victims in a major way. House Bill 1774 was designed to crack down on frivolous lawsuits, but the unfortunate outcome is that homeowners will have much less protections when insurance companies do not hold up their end of the bargain.

 

What is House Bill 1774, and How Will it Affect Harvey Insurance Claims?

House Bill 1774  does a lot to protect the interests of the insurance companies. It also limits the rights of the homeowners who file claims with them. This new law reduces the amount of interest insurance companies will have to pay to homeowners if they take too long to pay for a claim. At present, if a court finds that an insurance company delayed payment, the company must pay the claim with 18 percent interest. House Bill 1774 knocks the interest down to about 10 percent.

House Bill 1774 also reduces the amount of attorney fees that homeowners can recover if they don’t estimate within 80 percent accuracy the amount of damages done to their home when they file suit against the insurer.

Anyone who went through Hurricane Katrina will tell you that many insurance companies will drag their feet to the point where the person filing the claim is ready to give up. That is something some insurers count on. Before this new law takes effect, Texans have a fair amount of protection from these underhanded business practices, but that protection will be drastically cut in a matter of days.

 

“There is nothing about this bill that helps policyholders. Everything about this bill makes it harder for policyholders to hold insurance companies accountable.”

Will Adams

Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Texas Trial Lawyers Association

What Can Be Done at This Point?

By filing a claim before September 1st, homeowners can protect their ability to receive 18 percent interest on delayed payments. But — and this is a big “but” — the law requiring more accurate damages is only triggered after a homeowner files suit, and it’s highly unlikely any Harvey victims will be able to file a lawsuit before Friday.

So by filing your claim ahead of the game, you stand to risk falling below the 80 percent accuracy rule. It’s kind of a lose-lose situation, but an experienced attorney can help you navigate these incredibly muddy legal waters.

Contact Shamieh Law

If you are in coastal Texas, you are likely living your worst nightmare right now. You certainly don’t want to be thinking about filing your insurance claim, but if you want to make sure your rights as a homeowner are protected, we are here to help. Our experienced legal team will do the work for you, so you can concentrate on putting your life back together.

If you or someone you love is a victim of Hurricane Harvey, call an experienced attorney to help you navigate the complexities of Harvey insurance claims. We will get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us at 214-389-7333 to schedule a consultation.

Our thoughts are with you during this incredibly difficult time.

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Attorney Ramez Shamieh