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The Watchdog: Weblog submit reveals how insurance coverage corporations can delay paying claims to assist themselves – Denton Document Chronicle

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Up to date: July 3, 2022 @ 9:52 pm
Lawyer James Willis, left, alerted The Watchdog to the troubling weblog submit about claims delays. Right here, Willis is proven along with his shoppers in a previous lawsuit involving Hurricane Harvey claims and USAA Insurance coverage. Willis charged on the time that USAA was delaying the declare.
Dave Lieber

Dave Lieber
The Watchdog has lengthy suspected that some insurance coverage corporations purposely delay paying policyholders whose houses are broken in Texas storms. However how you can show it?
Thanks to an enormous blunder by a South Texas regulation agency, I can present you ways insurance coverage firm legal professionals can use this authorized technique to frustrate a house owner and lead the policyholder to give up.
In mid Might, the regulation agency of Colvin, Saenz, Rodriguez & Kennamer LLP, which has places of work in Brownsville and Edinburg, publicly posted on its agency’s weblog a narrative titled, “Is delaying an insurance coverage declare an efficient authorized technique?”
The reply given is “sure.”
“Completely astounding,” was the response by J. Robert Hunter, Texas’ first solo insurance coverage commissioner, after I confirmed him the submit. “We knew many insurers function this fashion, however I’ve by no means seen the technique admitted like this.”
Listed here are excerpts of the submit because it appeared for 46 days till its deletion this week.
Within the submit that seems to be aimed toward insurance coverage corporations, the writer writes, “Corporations that delay claims could expertise an a variety of benefits. Initially, delaying a declare places stress on policyholders. These people could also be coping with mounting payments for property injury, authorized charges and medical bills.
“Most individuals can not afford to proceed preventing insurance coverage corporations for a chronic time frame. Which means that most plaintiffs might be pressured to accept a good quantity as a substitute of constant to barter with insurance coverage corporations for an prolonged interval.
“In different phrases, delaying claims forces policyholders to just accept decrease settlement provides. Delaying claims can decrease prices in different methods. For instance, when an insurance coverage firm faces a deluge of property injury claims, they’ll delay a few of them in an effort to keep away from mass payouts abruptly.
“This limits the monetary stress on these organizations, and it permits them to take a position funds from paid premiums in an effort to earn curiosity income and offset a few of the prices. That is doubtless one of many major causes for persevering with delays associated to the Texas freeze.”
The submit concludes with a warning that “you’ll want to be very cautious about the way you delay claims. … You would face a nasty religion lawsuit.”
Earlier than I share reactions to this submit, I have to let you know that after The Watchdog contacted the agency, the submit was eliminated.
Legislation agency companion Trey Colvin despatched me a retraction which acknowledged the submit “didn’t replicate our values, beliefs, or practices.”
“We consider strongly that each one events to insurance coverage contracts have to adjust to the phrases of the contracts and report, consider and assess all claims in knowledgeable and well timed method. We not solely count on that of our insurance coverage shoppers, nevertheless it has been our expertise that our shoppers have those self same expectations of themselves.
“The submit has been faraway from the location. We deeply remorse that content material obtained from a 3rd social gathering was not rigorously checked, and that the submit could have been interpreted by anybody as suggesting something on the contrary.”
Colvin instructed me a third-party vendor, MileMark Media, wrote the weblog submit. I reached out to that firm, which handles social media for legal professionals, however I didn’t hear again.
Houston lawyer James W. Willis, who alerted The Watchdog to the submit, instructed me: “I see this habits from insurance coverage corporations each day in my regulation follow, so it doesn’t shock me.”
He continued, “They stated the quiet half out loud: that insurance coverage corporations cheat by benefiting from the disparate bargaining energy customers have towards a big firm with limitless sources. It’s evil and wicked, if not simply illegal.”
Texas Division of Insurance coverage spokesperson Gardner Selby defined, “The division doesn’t regulate legal professionals and has no remark on the net web page.”
State regulation says that when a declare’s paperwork is accomplished, an insurance coverage firm ought to, on the whole, pay a declare inside 60 days. If violated, the regulation permits for a penalty of damages, curiosity and lawyer charges along with the declare itself.
Texas Watch is a pro-consumer advocacy group. Government Director Ware Wendell instructed me, “Insurance coverage claims should be paid in full. Too many insurance coverage corporations interact in wrongful ‘delay, deny, defend’ schemes to pressure coverage holders to surrender, pocketing illicit income.
“The vulture tradition inside insurance coverage corporations has to cease. Solely robust legal guidelines will compel carriers to do the fitting factor.”
In 2017, the Texas Legislature loosened penalties for delays.
Lawyer James Willis, left, alerted The Watchdog to the troubling weblog submit about claims delays. Right here, Willis is proven along with his shoppers in a previous lawsuit involving Hurricane Harvey claims and USAA Insurance coverage. Willis charged on the time that USAA was delaying the declare.
In human phrases, lawyer Willis says that some Texans whose houses have been harm by the February 2021 Texas freezeout nonetheless haven’t had their houses repaired. He stated greater than half his shoppers are going through stalling techniques from insurance coverage corporations.
Certain, within the authorized world, stalling is an accepted tactic. However this isn’t one firm suing one other in a enterprise matter. This impacts households who haven’t been capable of return to their houses.
“They will’t take it anymore,” Willis says of those shoppers. “That’s what insurance coverage corporations try to do. That’s what that weblog stated. Put them able the place they’re going to be pressured to take cents on the greenback.”
DAVE LIEBER is The Dallas Morning Information’ The Watchdog investigative columnist.
Dave Lieber
The Watchdog Desk at The Dallas Morning Information works so that you can shine mild on questionable practices in enterprise and authorities. We welcome your story concepts and suggestions.
Contact The Watchdog
E mail: [email protected]
Name: 214-977-2952
Write: Dave Lieber, P.O. Field 655237, Dallas, TX 75265
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