As the remnants of Hurricane Harvey make their way out of Texas, attention now focuses on rebuilding efforts in the communities affected by this unprecedented weather event.
However, misinformation has been circulating on social media and in some news reports about a new law known as House Bill 1774—which was passed by the Texas Legislature this year and takes effect September 1, 2017—and the potential impact this law may have on affected property owners.
What does the new law do?
HB 1774 only deals with the process when a property owner sues an insurance company (or its agent) over a claim-related dispute (i.e., when the property owner believes they are owed more money than the insurance company offers).
But this situation is rare. According to the Texas Department of Insurance, only about 2% of claims each year result in this type of litigation.
While homeowners should always file claims as soon as possible, the new law will not change the claims process, no matter whether claims are filed before or after September 1.
Here are four key points to remember about the new law:
- The legislation does not change the process for filing a property insurance claim, whether a claim is filed before or after September 1.
- This legislation deals with how lawsuits arising from disputed claims are handled in court.
- Claims relating to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) are governed by federal law.
- Claims relating to Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) policies are not subject to the provisions of this bill.
Where to learn more
Texans affected by the recent severe weather events have access to several resources:
- Texas REALTORS® Relief Fund: REALTORS® and members of the public can apply to receive up to $1,000
- The State Bar of Texas offers free legal help through their legal hotline at 800-504-7030.
- FEMA’s Disaster Assistance Improvement Program provides support and services to disaster survivors.
- The Texas Department of Insurance offers assistance resolving insurance-related complaints.