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Texas Bills Could Change How You Interact with Your Insurance Provider

In 2012, McAllen, Texas was hit with a hail storm that damaged cars and buildings. Now, insurance claims from that storm and others are up for debate in the legislature.
In 2012, McAllen, Texas was hit with a hail storm that damaged cars and buildings. Now, insurance claims from that storm and others are up for debate in the legislature.

Two companion bills in the House and the Senate aim to change the way you interact with your insurance company.

Sometimes filing an insurance claim can seem like a staring contest: You versus your insurance company, and your insurance company has eye drops. Anna Bohart’s office building was badly damaged in March 2012 when a record strong hailstorm hit McAllen.

"It looked like a tornado had come into the city. There were no leaves left on the trees, limbs had been broken, pets had been killed because of the hail," Bohart says. "The buildings looked liked they had measles, they had been so pockmarked with hail hitting the buildings."

But Bohart says the real headache came when she started to file a claim with her insurance company.  "I had to call or email every day for 12 months practically," Bohart says. It took public and private adjusters and dozens of phone calls before she got a check. "It was terrible because you wanted to stay as nice as you could with someone who wasn’t cooperating or at least wasn’t answering, they would answer but they wouldn’t provide you with an answer," Bohart says.

Attorney Mark Kincaid says some insurance companies make the process complicated because they want you to give up. "Insurance companies always have an economic incentive to deny the claim because they make more money that way," says Kincaid.

But Sen. Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) says he filed Senate Bill 1628 because fraudulent legislation is slowing the insurance industry down. “This is one of the issues if we allow it to keep going, the consumer is going to pay for it either through higher premiums, or they’re going to lose coverages," Taylor says.

Consumer advocates say the bill would make it almost impossible to sue your insurance company. "What would happen to consumers is they would be denied any effective remedy against insurance companies," Kincaid says.

Senator Taylor says that’s just not true. “We’re not taking away people’s right to sue, I’m a big believer in the right to trial of your peers. If you have a legitimate complaint you should be allowed to take that to court," Taylor says.

So will the bill pass? Alex Winslow with consumer protection group Texas Watch says if it does, you probably won’t even hear about it. “Insurance is not an exciting topic; the insurance industry would like to use the fact that this is a dry topic in hopes that people won’t pay attention," Winslow says.

The Senate bill is currently pending in committee, and House Bill 3646 has not yet been heard. 

Copyright 2020 KUT 90.5. To see more, visit KUT 90.5.