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Greater Houston Partnership and Rio Grande Valley Partnership Endorse SB 10 and HB 1774

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2017
Contact: Lucy Nashed
lucy@tortreform.com
512-478-0200

Texans overwhelmingly support common-sense reforms to stop hailstorm lawsuit abuse

AUSTIN – Two of the most influential economic development groups in Texas, the Greater Houston Partnership and the Rio Grande Valley Partnership, have passed resolutions supporting Senate Bill (SB) 10 by Sen. Kelly Hancock and House Bill (HB) 1774 by Rep. Greg Bonnen to stop hail-related lawsuit abuse while preserving some of the strongest protections in the nation for Texas property insurance consumers. The two groups – which represent small, medium and large employers, chambers of commerce and others across the Gulf Coast and Rio Grande Valley – join the overwhelming majority of Texans who support the common-sense reforms in SB 10 and HB 1774.

“Texans statewide are recognizing that lawsuit abuse is already hurting property owners by limiting the availability of affordable insurance options in areas of the state,” Texans for Lawsuit Reform Chairman and CEO Richard W. Weekley said. “By acting quickly on SB 10 and HB 1774, the Texas Legislature can protect consumers from storm-chasing lawyers who abuse the system, while continuing to protect them from insurance companies that don’t pay claims on time and in full.”

A recent poll by Baselice and Associates found that an overwhelming 84 percent of Texans favor giving an insurance company a chance to resolve a disputed claim before a lawsuit is filed against it. Support was widespread among Republicans, Democrats and Independents, who favored the measure at 86, 80 and 86 percent, respectively. Additionally:

77 percent of Texans – including 80 percent of Republicans, 73 percent of Democrats and 78 percent of Independents –  favor limiting the lawyer’s fee if they recover substantially less for their client than the amount they originally demanded from the insurance company.

71 percent of Texans favor protecting individual agents of insurance companies from lawsuits against them if the insurance company agrees to cover the liability for those individuals and to pay any damages owed by them. This includes 74 percent of Republicans, 71 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of Independents.

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) recently issued a report to the Legislature about the impact of widespread, lawyer-driven lawsuit abuse on Texas property insurance consumers. With the rate of weather-related lawsuits increasing 1,400 percent statewide after 2011, TDI’s report presents an urgent need to stop this lawyer-driven litigation abuse.

Additional data points from TDI’s report include:
12 companies have increased rates for homeowner’s insurance as a direct result of litigation.
7 companies have reduced, limited or stopped writing policies in Texas as a direct result of litigation.
On average, it takes 94 days – or about 3 months – to close an insurance claim when a lawyer or public adjuster is not involved. But when a lawsuit is filed, it takes an average of 697 days – nearly two years, or seven times longer – to close an insurance claim.
The average pre-suit demand in a hailstorm lawsuit—just over $109,000—is more than four times the amount ultimately paid by the insurance company.

The Senate Business and Commerce Committee is set to hear testimony on SB 10 on Thursday.

TDI’s report (The Cost of Weather-related Property Claims and Related Litigation) can be viewed at http://www.tdi.texas.gov/reports/report5.html#specialreports.

To learn more about hail-related lawsuit abuse, please visit www.tortreform.com/hail.

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