Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Senate Bill 1628 and Windstorm Insurance...

The definition of a frivolous lawsuit is one that has been filed against me. All of mine are legitimate, of course. 

This is the hypocritical position of the leading so-called tort reformers. Richard W. Weekly is a great example of the consummate hypocrite.--he has fought for tort reform: his idea is to simply do away with lawyers and juries. Yet, when he lost a huge arbitration case (in an arbitration he had advocated), he turned to the courts to try to get further relief.  

People like Weekly and big insurance will not stop their assault on individual consumers and ordinary people until jury trials no longer exist and lawyers are all out of business. Weekly and others claim the "windstorm insurance pool" was done away with because of greedy lawyers. There is a very simple way to avoid having to deal with lawyers–pay the legitimate claims you owe.

A forgotten history of windstorm insurance was the fact that insurance companies at one time were required to furnish windstorm insurance with any homeowner’s policy. Insurance companies complained so much that they promised to fund and underwrite a special insurance for coastal folks, like us, if they could offer homeowner’s policies without offering storm insurance.  What went wrong was a combination of several hurricanes in a row, closely bunched--and the fact Rick Perry and his buddies put some of their cronies in charge who were either crooked or stupid. Many did not understand or know about the insurance adjusting business, others didn’t care and simply used the position to line their own pockets. Fraud was rampant among those who administered the Texas Windstorm Pool. Unfortunately, conservatives in the Legislature, instead of punishing the wrongdoers, simply are attempting to solve the problem by punishing consumers.

Having stuck it to Texas homeowners, now big insurance wants to stick it to consumers in all insurance claims.  Now pending in the House of Representatives in Austin is a bill properly dubbed “the insurance immunity act.”  It is so named because it would be a gift to insurance companies who have pulled $11.6 billion out of Texas’ economy and are now whining about having to pay claims fairly.

There are numerous features in the bill to protect insurance companies and increase their profit coming out of your pocket--but some are more egregious than others.  As an example, if you as a homeowner file a claim which mistakenly overstates your loss, you can be indicted under the new act and branded a criminal. On the other hand, if an insurance agent or adjuster cheats you, they are totally immune from being sued. If the roof blows off your house, you can wait forever for a replacement with no penalty to the insurance company who is re-investing and using the money you paid in premiums for coverage. 

Senate Bill 1628 now pending in the House of Representatives does away with most consumer protections afforded by the Texas Consumer Protection Act and shortens the time an injured consumer has to provide his or her claim.

You should call or email your state representative and senator and ask that this bill be stopped or seriously amended to protect  the rights of consumers. Don’t buy the old excuse that if we are too hard on insurance companies they will quit writing insurance in Texas. Texas is the second most populous state and a huge insurance market which no insurance company wants to give up. 

It’s time for our elected representatives to get a little backbone and stand up to the hundreds of lobbyists and big money insurance companies.

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