Why did we pay the premium?
By J. Tim Foster III
Most folks, myself included, are lost in the world of insurance. Buying it in the first place has always been an experience similar to teeth pulling. You are betting the worst happens. They are betting it doesn’t. Risk management is that close to legalized gambling. So what happens when the casino can not pay off the string of slot machines suddenly hitting triple seven’s? Somebody is going to get caught with their pants down.
At the Galveston Convention Center on September 7th and 8th, Topics covered at the seminar included Texas Insurance Code requirement for Bad Faith/Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act of which Mr. Mostyn acted as lead council pressing our state government for reform in this area. “Why did we pay the premium?” asked one weary looking housewife whose wearier tone of voice has questions further for anyone willing to come forward with the truth. We are weary of the storm itself but we are wearier of the lies, delays, mass deception and waiting still while the clock runs out systemically with varying degrees for statutes of limitations judgment. What needs to be recognized about the two year exit strategy is it begins on the last date of denial not the date of the storm itself. Generally, two years from when a reasonable person would believe his claim was denied. Liability ends completely after four years from the date of the storm. So yes, time is running out to prove unfairness with claims.
For the Mostyn law firm, skivvies in hand, it is a matter of time. Case by case in the aftermath of hurricane Rita and now Ike, the back rooms of law firms doing battle with insurance companies have been very busy. Why? According to the statements from Mr. Mostyn at the Ike seminar, The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association was and remains unprepared. TWIA had shut down all of their claims centers some time before Rita and had no qualified personnel to do normal response functions such as claims adjusting. Apparently, photography is an issue of some weight. If it’s not in the picture it does not get covered for repair or replacement. There the pants hit the floor and hineys exposed…incompetence from top down risk entities unable to cover the triple sevens despite being paid to do so is surprising insight from a spectator perspective. Boiling mad for folks whose home remains a slab two years after being blown into the junk heap.
Some of the construction repairs overlooked by handwritten estimates include cracked or separated rafters and “lifted shingles”. Particles of debris are caught by composition shingles when they are lifted up by high wind. They may look fine in the afternoon on a calm day but try a carpet drying machine with 30 mph wind capacity and simple demonstration tells the tale.
Clearly, by now, people are realizing how poorly they have been treated with failure to respond quickly to claims, begin objective investigations, informing clients of all their coverage, time limits and potential exclusions from coverage. Other failures included affirmation or denial of claims in writing and lack of additional living expenses payments. Coupled with shoddy estimating practices and lack of photographic documentation, cause for concern should be on the increase nationwide, but no. It is a state run agency. No one is pointing fingers at top down legislation or half moons in Austin, Texas…are they?