Living in Houston, Texas, inevitably, you may deal with a homeowners’ insurance issue at some point. According to a KXAN report, Texas ranks third among the states most impacted by natural disasters. Since 1950, The Lone Star State has recorded 137 natural disasters. Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, wildfires, extreme heat, winter storms, and thunderstorms have caused immense destruction to homes and businesses throughout Texas and rising homeowners' insurance premiums statewide.
In 2017 alone, Hurricane Harvey inflicted an estimated $125 billion in damage across Texas and Louisiana. The Jarrell Tornado of 1997 wrought $50 million in damage to homes and businesses, and the Bastrop County Complex Fire of 2011 destroyed over 1,600 homes and cost over $325 million in damages. These natural disasters have significantly impacted Texans' lives and their ability to rebuild in the aftermath.
Throughout Texas, the average annual cost of homeowner’s insurance is $3,080 per year for $300,000 in dwelling coverage —a substantial expense for many Texas homeowners. In exchange, homeowners’ insurance should compensate you for damage to your property caused by most natural disasters. If a covered event occurs, you must file a claim as soon as possible, especially if you must pay for urgent or temporary repairs. But, what if you submit your claim promptly, and the insurance carrier unreasonably delays in paying your claim?
At McLaurin Law, PLLC, we can advise you on what to do if a homeowners insurance company is stalling. Read below to learn some helpful tips. Then, call us at (713) 461-6500 to schedule a free strategy session in Houston, TX.
How Long Should It Take for an Insurance Company To Pay Out?
Insurers expect you to pay your premiums and file claims promptly, but they don’t always act promptly when it’s time for them to hold up their end of the bargain.
Insurance Laws and Payment Time Frames in Texas
Generally, you have one year from the date of the event to file your claim, but you shouldn’t wait that long. Insurance policies usually require you to notify your carrier “promptly” of any losses. “Promptly” often means within a few days. Of course, exceptions exist, such as when you have had to evacuate due to a natural disaster.
Once you notify the insurance company of your loss, it has 15 days to acknowledge and start investigating your claim. This process usually entails sending insurance adjusters to your home to inspect and evaluate the damage. You may also need to submit proof of loss, a repair or cost estimate, and an itemized list of damaged contents or personal propert, if applicable.
After you’ve submitted all required documentation, the insurer has another 15 days to approve or deny your claim (or, 30 days if the insurer suspects arson). The company may extend this period to 45 days, but only for a legitimate reason.
If your insurance claim is successful, once the insurance company notifies you that it plans to pay your claim, it must pay you within five days. If the carrier rejects your claim, you can appeal the decision—be sure to show the denial letter to your home insurance lawyer.
Common Issues in Insurance Payment Disputes
Common stall tactics insurers may use in the insurance claims process include:
- Ignoring your claim or your messages
- Requiring many superfluous documents
- Changing the adjuster in charge of your claim multiple times
- Failing to process your claim within a reasonable time
The Importance of Seeking Legal Advice in Insurance Disputes
If you believe your insurer is acting in bad faith, contact an experienced home insurance lawyer right away. They will advise you on what to do if a homeowners insurance company is stalling and how you can take steps to speed up the process.
Why Is the Insurance Company Stalling?
Insurance companies are legally obligated to uphold their policies and pay valid claims on time. In reality, some insurers employ bad faith tactics, including stalling, to protect their bottom lines. By stalling and wearing your patience thin, they hope you’ll either drop your claim or settle for a lowball payout.
Another common tactic involves using insurance adjusters, who are supposed to examine the extent of your property damage, to undervalue your damages and claim. Remember, adjusters aren’t your friends. Always ask for their first and last names and state license number, and forward these to your attorney.
Legal Options for Dealing with an Insurance Company That Is Stalling
You may be able to file a lawsuit if your insurer is delaying your claim in bad faith. However, you may consider alternative dispute resolution strategies such as mediation and arbitration before initiating litigation.
In any case, you should hire an experienced home insurance lawyer. They know what to do if a homeowners’ insurance company is stalling and can help you navigate the legal process and maximize your chances of success.
Preparing for Legal Action Against an Insurance Company
If you’re considering legal action against your insurer, take these steps:
- Keep detailed records. Maintain a record of your interactions with the insurance company. Write down everything that happens during and after the covered incident, keep a clear timeline of events, and write summaries of all conversations and phone calls, including the names and contact information of all insurance company representatives you speak with during the claim process.
- Collect and organize your documentation. Take photos and videos of the damage and gather all relevant documents, such as a full copy of your insurance policy, repair estimates, correspondence with the insurance company, and more.
- Seek legal advice. Hire an experienced insurance claim attorney to represent your interests.
Is Your Homeowners’ Insurance Company Stalling? Call a Houston Insurance Lawyer.
Being proactive is vital to speed up your claim if you’re dealing with a bad faith insurer. At McLaurin Law, PLLC, we know what to do if a homeowners’ insurance company is stalling. Our founder, Jason McLaurin, worked in insurance and has insider knowledge of the industry. Call us at (713) 461-6500 or complete our online form to schedule a free strategy session with an experienced Houston insurance lawyer.
McLaurin Law. When you need more than luck on your side.