What is Insurance Bad Faith?
If you’re a homeowner in the State of Texas, and if you are dealing with insurance bad faith after a storm has damaged your property, or if this happens to you in the future, schedule a consultation at once to discuss your options and rights with a Texas property damage attorney.
Your homeowners insurance policy is a promise you have paid for – a promise from the insurance company to provide property insurance coverage when you need it. But if you believe that your insurance company is not working with you in good faith, where can you turn?
When a homeowners insurance company refuses to pay a valid and legitimate property damage claim, and when the company cannot offer a good reason for its denial of that claim, it’s called insurance bad faith. If you are the victim of insurance bad faith, what steps can you take?
What Legally Constitutes Bad Faith?
It’s easy to sustain storm-related property damage in Texas. Tornadoes, hurricanes, freezes, and floods happen frequently in our state. If you’ve insured your home and paid your premiums, you expect that your insurance coverage will be there when you need it. If it’s not, what can you do?
The details of insurance bad faith laws are slightly different in each state, but the essential rule in every state is that insurance companies must operate in good faith and cannot look for ways to get out of their obligation to investigate and pay valid and legitimate property insurance claims.
When a homeowners insurance company doesn’t take seriously its responsibility to you, makes excuses, or does not return your calls, you may have grounds for taking legal action against the company by bringing a bad faith lawsuit with the help of a Texas property damage lawyer.
When Can You Sue Your Insurance Company for Bad Faith?
The law requires an insurance bad faith claim to be based on an insurance company’s specific actions or specific failures to take action. The reasons why a homeowner may sue an insurance company for insurance bad faith include but are not limited to:
- a failure to either pay or deny a claim in a reasonable time period
- a failure to explain why a claim was denied
- a failure to negotiate and settle the claim
- a failure to share with a policyholder important information about a claim
- a failure to take any steps to investigate a claim
- offering a settlement amount substantially below the claim’s actual value
What Steps Will Your Lawyer Take?
When a property damage claim has been undervalued, delayed for no legitimate reason, or rejected, it can be difficult if not impossible for a Texas property owner to recover fully from storm damage and have his or her property repaired.
If your property has been damaged by bad weather, and your property damage claim is rejected, your lawyer’s first step may be writing a letter to the insurance company. The mere possibility of legal action may be sufficient to persuade the company to make a reasonable settlement offer.
Why? If you sue your insurance company for bad faith, and the case goes to trial, the company might be ordered by the court to pay additional “punitive” damages and/or to pay your attorney’s fee. That’s why most insurance bad faith claims are resolved with out-of-court settlements.
How Can You Know if You Are a Victim?
Only an experienced Texas property damage attorney – a Texas attorney who regularly represents clients bringing bad faith claims – can tell you if an insurance company’s actions constitute insurance bad faith and whether you have a valid legal claim against the company.
How long should it take to process your claim? That will depend on the details of the property damage and the claim. However, if you’ve heard nothing after thirty days, you should contact your insurance company and ask the company why processing your claim is taking so long.
If you’re not satisfied with the company’s answer, or if you believe that the company is operating in bad faith, take your concerns at once to a Texas property damage lawyer who will provide the specific legal advice you need and explain how the law applies to your personal situation.
How Long Do You Have to Take Legal Action?
For insurance bad faith lawsuits in Texas, the statute of limitations – that is, the deadline for filing a lawsuit – is only two years from either:
- the date that the insurance bad faith occurred (usually the date when the property damage claim was rejected), or
- the date that the policyholder discovered or should have discovered that the insurance company was operating in bad faith
There is one exception to the two-year deadline; if you can prove the insurance company’s actions (or lack of action) prevented you from bringing your lawsuit within the two-year deadline, the court may grant you an additional 180 days to take legal action.
When Should You Contact an Attorney?
Nevertheless, you shouldn’t wait two years to consult a property damage attorney.
If your storm-related property insurance claim was wrongly denied, or if it’s being unreasonably delayed, arrange as quickly as possible to consult a Texas property insurance claims attorney.
Flores & Pelaez-Prada provides sound, personalized advice regarding storm damage and other property damage claims. We will review your homeowners policy to determine if you’re a victim of insurance bad faith. If you are, we will fight for the payout – and for the justice – you need.
At Flores & Pelaez-Prada, We Fight for Texas Homeowners
With more than fifty years of combined legal experience, the property damage attorneys at Flores & Pelaez-Prada have resolved more than 12,000 claims, and we have recovered millions of dollars for homeowners across the State of Texas and throughout the south-central United States.
We work on a contingent fee basis, so you will pay no lawyer’s fee to Flores & Pelaez-Prada unless and until we recover your payout from your insurance company with a negotiated settlement or a judgment from the court. We have law offices in San Antonio and McAllen.
If your property damage claim is rejected, or if this happens in the future, let us provide a no-cost, no-obligation case evaluation. You can reach Flores & Pelaez-Prada at 855-786-7674 (or 855-STORMS-4). If you own a home in Texas, we are the lawyers who will fight for your rights.
Disclaimer: The blog posts shared on stormlex.com are intended for general informational purposes and may not apply to your specific situation. For personalized legal advice concerning your policy or claim, contact our office directly at 855-786-7674.