Hurricane Harvey just made landfall Friday night, but lawyers and a consumer watchdog groups are urging victims of the storm to file insurance claims before a new law takes effect on Friday.
House Bill 1774, which goes into effect Sept. 1, advocates for insurance companies to limit lawsuit abuses, Chron reports. Opponents of the law say it will limit homeowner’s ability to hold insurance companies accountable when they take an unreasonable amount of time to pay for claims or underpay and wrongfully deny authentic claims. The law also reduces the amount of interest insurance companies will have to pay homeowners if the claim takes too long to settle.
Will Adams, vice president of legislative affairs for the Texas Trial Lawyers Association said, “There is nothing about this bill that helps policy holders. Everything about this bill makes it harder for policyholders to hold insurance companies accountable.”
However, Republican Senator Kelly Hancock who sponsored the legislation, claims 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.
But advocates are saying it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Executive director of Texas Watch Ware Wendell said, “If it is safe to return to your property and inspect damage, file written notice of your claim with your insurance company before September 1st to try to preserve at least some of your legal rights.”