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Storm Insurance Claims

Storm Insurance Claims

 

Today, August 31, 2017, is the deadline to submit a storm insurance claim to be processed before a new law takes effect that impacts claim repayment.

The information below addresses who is affected and what action is needed.

Do I need to do something today, August 31, 2017?

  • If your property has incurred storm damage from Hurricane Harvey, and you intend to file a storm insurance claim with your insurance provider, YES. This does not generally apply to TWIA, Federal Flood claims or auto claims.

What exactly must I do today?

  • You must submit a claim under your policy today. Below this post is an example that you can use to contact your insurer. I recommend mailing and emailing it to your agent and insurance company if possible.

What will happen if I don’t do that today?

  • You will lose certain rights afforded under the current law. Overall, claims filed under the new law may see less compensation, longer lag times and more red tape during the process.
  • Provisions of the new law may be disadvantageous to you. The new law includes a change to interest rate on damages, which will reduce compensation for losses (from 18% to 10%). That means less money to help you repair and recover. The new law also includes a 60 day allowance for your insurance company to “reconsider” the claim if it makes an inadequate or denial of your claim. That means the possibility of a dragged out process while you wait for what is owed to you, and what is necessary to begin your recovery.

Who can help me if I still don’t understand or am unable to file my claim today, due to circumstances related to my current situation?

  • At this point, the best thing to do is mail and email your claim with whatever information you have to your agent and insurance company.
  • If you are unable to complete this today, reach out to your network to see if they can assist you with composing and sending the message. You may also contact me, and I can connect you with appropriate resources or information.
  • There has been no indication that insurance companies plan to be lenient with the implementation of the new provisions, even given the ongoing storm.
EXAMPLE OF LETTER/EMAIL TO INSURANCE COMPANY
Re: Storm Claim

John Smith
1111 Flood Zone, Houston, Texas 77
Phone xxx-xxx-xxxx
Policy # (if known)

My property located at (WRITE YOUR SPECIFIC ADDRESS) was damaged due to the recent storm. While I am unsure of the total amount of damage, the following is what I am aware of at this time: LIST WHAT YOU CAN. ie: 6 inches of water in my first floor, damaging furniture, personal belongings and structural elements of the house such as flooring, wallpaper, utilities…

Submitted on August 31, 2017

Your Signature

“Who are ‘those people’ doing all the suing?”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard that and it is usually followed by “but my case is different” or “but my case is not frivolous like those other cases”.  The truth is every case is different and there are very few frivolous cases.

The people who sue are your friends, your family, yourself and anyone who has an issue that cannot be worked out in an amicable manner.  The insurance companies and some defendants rely on your feelings of embarrassment for suing by making it seem like if you sue someone, when they do not take responsibility for their actions, that somehow you are a bad person or that you are “taking advantage of the system”.  In fact it is often the defendant in a lawsuit whose actions have caused a wreck or business loss.  If that was not bad enough they then refuse to take responsibility and pay for the injuries or damages they caused.

When people talk about all the frivolous lawsuits, I ask them which ones they are referencing. The ones usually cited are either made up or completely wrong on the facts and injuries (McDonald case).  In my almost 30 years of practice I have seen a few cases which I believed should not be prosecuted, but almost always it was because of a change in the law or the damages did not justify what it would take to try the case.  The number of frivolous cases I have seen can be counted on one hand, including the business case we defended last week.

I have seen, on multiple occasions, what I believe to be frivolous defenses in car crash lawsuits. Several years ago there was  a case where the Defendant claimed the reason he rear-ended the car in front of him without ever hitting his brakes was because a bee in the car distracted him. It sounds like a freak accident and taken by itself (as the jury in a case would) it would seem so.   But when a group of lawyers who do auto cases were talking and found out that the same insurance company seemed to have a flurry of bees causing wrecks all over the county it makes you wonder.  Are we suddenly under a bee attack or has the insurance company come up with a defense when taken in a single case seems plausible and when taken as a group (which juries never see) is laughable and frivolous.

My hope is that people and companies who make mistakes would stand up and admit they caused the injury and damages and make it right instead of making it necessary for the injured party to have to file a lawsuit, but then I still believe that people will do the right thing (and in Santa Claus).

So when you think “who are ‘those people’ doing all the suing” — it is probably because you haven’t been forced into that position –yet.

Obama Death Panels –We don’t need them in Texas!! (Because we already have them!)

There has been a lot of talk and fear about the so called Death Panels which can decide whether a person should be denied life sustaining care even over the objection of the family.  It has been vilified as typical of “Obama care”.  Texas is leading the country as we have had these “death panels” for over a decade thanks to Tort Reform.  I thought it was a bad idea in 1999 and still think it is a bad idea.  Essentially it allows the physician or medical facility to determine that life sustaining care is inappropriate.  This decision can be over the objection and wishes of the family.

“The physician and the health care facility are not obligated to provide life-sustaining treatment after the 10th day after the written decision…”

“The patient is responsible for any costs incurred in transferring the patient to another facility.”

So imagine that your family member is in a car crash and lapses into a coma and the medical facility decides that there is no benefit to life sustaining treatment (the irony of “life-sustaining” care being of no benefit seems lost on them).  The committee (?) determines to end all life-sustaining care and gives you notice.  Now you have 10 days to find another facility to agree to accept your family member and if you can find one (after the current one has already decided it is futile {I am sure the economics of care have nothing to do with the decision}) you get to pay for any cost incurred in transferring your loved one. If you don’t agree, you have the option to file a lawsuit to stop them.  Do you really think that will be what you are thinking about as your loved one is essentially starving to death as they cut off life support.

The people who supported the law and are now fighting against health care will say, well that is different or just because it is the law doesn’t mean it will happen.  Harris County Texas — a patient identified only as “Willie” died after the hospital cut off all nourishment after giving the proper notice.  Probably the family didn’t care – wrong they tried to get him transferred but couldn’t find a hospital willing to take him.  Well he must not have had insurance –  1st should it matter, but he actually had plenty of coverage, but the let him die.  Texas Right to Life spokesperson Elizabeth Graham stated “Willie” was dehydrated and starved to death against the family’s desire (Thanks to Jeffrey Kreisberg).  So when you think it will not happen, it already has to someone with a family who wanted to keep him alive and had insurance. As far as I know, no such action has taken place in Fort Bend County, Texas – yet.

In the last election for governor of Texas, Perry was asked about this and he claimed he wasn’t aware of the law and would make it priority to get it overturned.

If you are concerned about “death panels” you should be because if you are in Texas it is not a possibility it is a reality and not because of the liberal democrats, but because of the Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) group.  So be mad and take action against those who supported, sponsored and passed the bill.  Ask your representative if they are supporter of Texans for Lawsuit Reform and, if so, why they are in favor of these “death panels”.  I wonder if they will claim they didn’t know what they were supporting??

Finally, if you support (or know someone who supports) TLR I posted this question on Facebook – “What do you believe needs Reforming?”  I really would like some answers to that question.

PETA — Are you serious???

What to blog about?  The requirement of the government to require companies to pay for insurance which is in direct conflict with their religious and moral beliefs, and how it conflicts with the separation of church and state?  Planned Parenthood v. Susan G. Komen and change of their policy relating to funding of PP due to a social media backlash.  Is that good or bad and doesn’t it really depend upon your perspective?  Nope.  Done that.  Today I will address an issue which should be on the forefront of everyone in America.  The slavery of killer whales.  Yes.  PETA has filed a lawsuit in California (is anyone surprised) claiming that SeaWorld is violating the 13th Amendment of the Constitution by having Killer Whales in their show.  For those of you that have forgotten the 13th Amendment abolished slavery stating:  “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”  Ok so PETA wants it to apply to animals.  I guess that preamble of: “We the people…” kind of slipped by them.  So let’s follow this out.  First if you are a PETA supporter aren’t you a little upset that some of your money is being used to fund this suit and what happens if PETA were to win?  Wouldn’t you have to set free all your pets as they are being kept against their wishes?  Wouldn’t the next step be that every animal would have to be set free and every animal killed would result in a murder charge?  I am really at a loss to understand the logic here and why the Court did not dismiss it rather than take the arguments under advisement.  All that did is give PETA (People Eliciting Tortious Acts) as opposed to PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) some crazy idea that this has merit.  So we now have a situation where a group is claiming that the killer whales are slaves and have rights and there is no social media outcry?  Where are all the Planned Parenthood people?  Why hasn’t PETA provided funding for PP and not wasted it on crazy cases like this?  Is it because the mission statement of PETA and PP are not similar?  That can’t be it because PP and Susan G. Komen mission statements are not similar.  So where is the social media outcry? Where are the people claiming frivolous lawsuits?  Where the heck did my country go?  By the way My Party (see earlier post) is firmly against this misuse of the judicial system. What do you think?

Pro-Choice – Really???

As I have not blogged lately I decided to start 2012 off with a low controversy issue.  Let’s start off with a few definitions:

Pro-Choice is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as those advocating legalized abortion.

Pro-life is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as those opposing abortion.

Abortion is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy.

Choice is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as a range of possibilities from which one or more may be chosen.

            This week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius issued a statement detailing the requirement that employers are required to provide insurance coverage including contraceptive drugs including abortion drugs. 

The rule will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible.  Beginning August 1, 2012, most new and renewed health plans will be required to cover these services without cost sharing for women across the country.  

Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. 

The entire statement can be found at http://hhs.gov/news/press/2012pres/01/20120120a.html.

If you are a Pro-Life employer you are understandably upset as the rule would require you to pay for something that you oppose on potentially both moral and religious grounds.  If you are Pro-Choice I would think that you would be concerned as it is a clear move by the government to do away with Choice.  In this rule they are requiring everyone to either obey the law in violation of their personal belief (religious, moral, etc.) or to violate the law and face the consequences.  If the issue is truly one for the women whom it impacts — as espoused by Pro-Choice proponents then why is this decision a government issue which requires those who do not agree to pay for that decision.

The issue of pro-choice v. pro-life is one that is so fundamental to most people that a discussion on it will generally end with whether you consider the embryo to be a baby or not.  The issue of paying for terminating the life of a baby is not one that should be forced upon anyone or mandated by the government.

The statement by Secretary Sebelius that an additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule is ridiculous.  Who is the government to give a person or group a year to adapt to a rule that violates their very moral and/or religious beliefs?

For the purpose of this discussion, I don’t care if you are pro-choice or pro-life.  This is an issue of pro freedom from government interference in your life.  The very thing that pro-choice advocates claim to have fought to achieve they are now conceding and welcoming because they see it as a benefit to them.

 

 

Tort Reform — Texas Style

Wal-Mart announces reduction in medical coverage due to continuing rise of cost of coverage. Premiums continue to climb while benefits drop. Auto, Home and Business insurance premiums continue to rise. It must be those lawsuits right? What about those trial lawyers they must be the cause. All those frivolous lawsuits keep driving up the cost for everyone. Great tag lines but as the old commercial says “Where’s the Beef?” The insurance industry has done a great job of advertising and obfuscating. They have convinced people that if only tort reform was passed then everyone’s insurance rates would drop. Texas has had tort reform for almost a decade. Have any of your rates dropped? I didn’t think so. Every year it is the same story, well the reforms didn’t go far enough.
Over the next few weeks I will go through some of the different legislative and judicial edicts that form our current Texas law and much ballyhooed Tort Reform. Why don’t we start with the newest fair haired tort reform -known affectionately as loser pays (if you are the one who is injured that is) which allows the Courts to dismiss frivolous cases. That is a great idea. That is probably why we have had that procedure in place for pretty much since the inception of laws in Texas.
The Courts have always had the power to dismiss a frivolous case upon request by either party. So why the need for the new law and why is it that the loser only pays if it is the person bringing the case and not the person who caused the injury. Could it be that the insurance companies defending the person causing wrecks and injuries are trying to intimidate people into not making valid claims? What a strange idea. So here we are with a whole new set of laws designed to reduce the ability to recover for injuries caused by others actions.
Even if it is an unintended (:>)) result at least the overall benefit is for the good of us all — right. Let’s look at that starting with loser pays. Sounds great, but who is the loser who is going to pay? Suppose that a driver, Rich causes a wreck and Joan is injured. Joan is taken to hospital and gets treated. She doesn’t have health insurance so who is going to pay the hospital bills? Well if she doesn’t have health insurance she probably has Medicare or Medicaid maybe — maybe not. If she does then one of those entities pays and has a right to recover all their money. So why if there is a chance of having to pay the person who caused the wrecks attorney fees and expenses would you take the risk? I mean everyone knows juries are crazy right. That is what we always hear as a reason why they shouldn’t be allowed to determine damages in an injury case which could impact a person’s life (but they are great for deciding life in death in a criminal case – but I digress), so why would an attorney agree to represent Joan if he or she has to spend months fighting with Medicare/Medicaid just to get an answer as to how much is owed, invest significant time and money out of his/her own pocket to try and recover the damages for her. It may be that the determination is that it is not worth it so no lawyer, no lawsuit.

Great tort reform works. Oh Wait.

What about the hospital bills that Medicare/Medicaid paid on behalf of Joan. Well you and I paid those bills, after all isn’t Medicare/Medicaid essentially a tax funded insurance plan. But wait there’s more (I love infomercials) and since the hospital didn’t get the full value of their services they raise their charges to offset the loss which causes the cost to go up for everyone else. So now you and I are paying for the injuries caused by Rich. So when we hear loser pays we need to just admit that you and I are paying and Rich gets a free ride for his actions. Next time we will discuss the Court Decision I affectionately call Brainless.

The opinions in this blog, as always, are mine and not necessarily those of the firm.