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Lawyers Urge Hurricane Harvey Victims to File Insurance Claims Before Law Change
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Hurricane Harvey

Summary: Some Hurricane Harvey victims are scrambling to file homeowner insurance claims before Friday. 

On Friday, a new insurance law will take effect in Texas that could limit Harvey victims’ rights. Concerned about the law’s impact, attorneys and Texas lawmakers are urging homeowners to file their property damage claims before September 1.

  
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According to CNN, “The law will impact policyholders who file a lawsuit against their insurance company for failing to pay enough in claims or repaying claims too slowly. It requires plaintiffs’ attorneys to offer more detail when they give notice of intent to file a lawsuit. If insurance companies must pay damages, the law will reduce the amount of penalty interest they’ll owe from 18% to about 10%.”

The purpose of House Bill 1774 is to reduce the amount of frivolous lawsuits filed against insurance companies, but critics say that the law will weaken consumer rights.

Attorney Craig Eiland told CNN that people who file claims before Friday will be able to increase the amount of damages they win if they were to file a lawsuit against their insurance company and won.

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“If you file a notice of claim before the new law takes effect, then you’ll have the advantages of the Texas insurance code in place right now which would give you 18% interest if the insurance company slow pays, no pays or low pays,” Eiland said.

Supporters of HB 1774 say that lawyers take advantage of insurance policy holders by encouraging them to sue their insurance companies. Lucy Nashed of Texans for Lawsuit Reform said that the new law will most likely not affect “the vast majority of Texas” because they probably won’t sue their insurance companies.



“Texas has some of the strongest consumer protections in the nation for policyholders that are denied or underpaid by insurance companies,” Nashed said to Dallas News. “That is still the case.”

It is noted that flood insurance is generally provided by the government and that the new law will only apply to private companies.

Geoff Henley of Henley & Henley in Dallas told Dallas News that people who were affected by Hurrican Harvey have other things to worry about but should still be concerned with their insurance.

“I know this may seem like the last thing people have on their mind as they are stranded from their families, homes and businesses, but the new law strips people of their rights,” said Henley. “Immediate action is necessary.”

Senator Kelly Hancock sponsored the new law and said that lawyers are misleading homeowners.

“There is no need to rush to file a claim. Put your safety first. Do not return to seriously damaged property unless you are informed that it is safe,” Hancock said.

What do you think of Texas’ new insurance law? Let us know in the comments below.



 

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