Bill would limit hail damage lawsuits against Texas insurance providers

Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick wants to limit hail damage lawsuits against insurance providers after a near-record year for hail damage in Texas.

Two storms that struck Wylie in April 2016, along with another storm in San Antonio, caused $4 billion in insured losses. Only Hurricane Ike in 2008 created higher wind and hail claims.

The goal of Senate Bill 10 is to limit lawyers taking insurance companies to court - and by doing so - protect both property insurers and property owners, a state senator said.

"We have seen an enormous number of claims being filed that we've not seen in the past,” said State Sen. Kelly Hancock.    

Hancock and Patrick both said the hail storm reform bill is needed because of a record number of lawsuits being filed.  The costs, they say, are being passed on to policy holders.

"Insurance companies are raising the premiums on homeowners and business owners. Deductibles are higher. That's costing our citizens of Texas real money out of their pockets,” Patrick said.

But groups opposed to Senate Bill 10 caution limiting access for claims remedy in the courts and said it would give insurance companies and unfair advantage.

The proposal would punish attorneys and roofers who swoop in and pressure homeowners to sue instead of going through the claims process.

"It was probably within a few hours we had people that flew in from other states,” said Wylie homeowner Jessica Johnson. Her house suffered $75,000 worth of damage last April.

The law would also protect insurance companies from being sued twice for single claims. Hancock said customers would still be protected.

"We maintain the ability of those that are being covered the right to sue the insurance company when the insurance company is not fulfilling their obligation,” Hancock said.

Johnson went through the settlement process and finally got her insurance to pay but understands hailstorm litigation reform is insurance for the insurers.

"You have insurance companies that want to look out for the homeowner but they have to look out for themselves too,” Johnson said.

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