HURRICANE HANNA DAMAGE? NOW WHAT?

July 28, 2020

HURRICANE HANNA DAMAGE? NOW WHAT?

HOW TO HANDLE A WINDSTORM INSURANCE CLAIM

As many Texas residents assess the damage caused by Hurricane Hanna that made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast over the weekend, they will need to familiarize themselves with the homeowner’s or business owner’s insurance claim process. This process can be confusing and failure to follow proper procedures can result in your claim being denied or underpaid.

Unfortunately, insurance companies and their adjusters are not in the business of paying out claims. Generally, insurance company adjusters are trained to resolve claims for the smallest amount possible or deny the claims outright if they can find an exclusion under the policy.  If you or someone you know was affected, be sure to review the following steps before contacting your insurance company to file a claim.

Read and review your entire homeowner’s insurance policy including any endorsements and amendments.

Do not agree to be recorded over the phone. Do not agree to provide a recorded or sworn statement over the phone. Ask to provide one in person or in writing. Consider consulting with an attorney first. PUBLIC ADJUSTERS ARE NOT ATTORNEYS.

Communicate in writing if you can. Try to make sure most of your communication is in writing. If you have a phone conversation follow it up with an email or a fax.

Create a detailed list and notes of everything lost or damaged. Create a list of all damaged property including any personal items. Please make sure to include the brand name, model, and as accurate of a description as possible of all claimed items. Include everything no matter how small.

Document all damages. Don’t only photograph the damage, but also make sure every photograph is either time stamped or logged with the date and time it was taken.

Witnesses are important. Create a list of each person who witnessed the losses and can testify to how the losses occurred. This includes the names of any contractors or other employees who performed repairs.

Keep a log of contact with your insurance company. Take down the first and last name of every person you speak to from your insurance company, the date you spoke to them, and what you spoke to them about.

Gather your past records. If possible gather records any previous repairs or inspections of your home. This will make it more difficult for the insurance company to claim the damage was preexisting or unrelated.

As attorneys representing home and business owners, we have seen the damage, devastation, and disruptions that hurricanes and storms can cause. We have represented thousands of clients against insurance companies that have tried to avoid and delay payment for legitimate losses our clients have incurred.Do you have property damage related to Hurricane Hannah? We focus on representing the policyholder and making sure you are treated fairly. Contact us today to discuss your claim or if you have any questions. Please use our Free Case Evaluation Form below or call us at 800-400-4000

3M MILITARY EARPLUG LAWSUIT UPDATE – JUNE 05, 2020

3M MILITARY EARPLUG LAWSUIT UPDATE – JUNE 05, 2020

As many of you may have seen on social media, there is an ongoing effort via a false and misleading ad campaign on Facebook targeting U.S. active duty military and veterans.  These advertisements claim that a settlement has been reached in the 3M Combat Arms Earplugs Litigation.  This is false.  These advertisements claim that there is money immediately available to veterans and former servicemembers.  This is false.  The advertisements reference a $9.1M settlement (which is the amount 3M paid to the federal government over the Combat Arms Earplugs).  At this time, there is no settlement of any value for the claims involved in MDL 2885 for servicemembers hearing loss or tinnitus. 

We have reported many of these advertisements to Facebook.  However, the advertisements are increasing and our efforts to report and remove them on Facebook has had indeterminate success – as soon as one ad is challenged and removed; another almost identical in content and copy pops up in its place. We have identified nearly a dozen Facebook pages over 200 different ad variations reflecting nearly $300,000 in false ad campaigns targeting veterans in the past year.  Veterans, Service Members and all of our clients are increasingly frustrated with the litigation process because many of the advertisements go as far as to show purported members of the military holding their settlement checks and indicating that this is the “last chance” to claim their settlement funds. 

The Leadership Team has been investigating these false ads for several months and is taking immediate action aimed at the companies behind the dissemination of the false and misleading ads.  We will continue to keep you apprised of our efforts relating to these false messages of imminent payment and settlement for the Combat Arms Earplugs.

We are aggressively pushing forward with discovery against 3M, and we will continue to keep you all informed about the progress of this litigation.  Judge Casey Rodgers has made it clear that several cases will proceed to trial in 2021 despite the current COVID-19 crisis, and the parties should prepare accordingly.  Virtual depositions and written discovery are underway. Please call your case manager if you have any questions about your specific case. 

New Texas Law HB1774 What does that mean? Steve Mostyn Interview with Miya Shay from ABC Houston

New Texas Law HB1774 What does that mean?

Steve Mostyn Interview with Miya Shay from ABC Houston

Miya Shay: Absolutely show those amazing video while we talk to legal expert, lawyer Steve Mostyn who has handled a lot of flood claims over the years. Steve, I want to bring you in here. We are all sort of casual because we have been working in flood waters the last couple of days. Tell us, two things. First tell us about — we have seen a lot of Facebook postings about this law that goes into effect tomorrow. What does that mean? That’s not flood insurance. It is for other claims.

Steve: The law will go into effect technically Friday at 12:01. You have until tomorrow. It is called HB1774 and it involves homeowners claims. What that means is that if you have rising water, that’s a flood claim. That’s generally governed by the flood insurance program. This is if you have a leak from the roof, a leak around the window, if you have a tree that hit your fence or home, those are homeowners policies and that is governed by the new law. People should file their claim by 12:00 tomorrow in order to take advantage of some larger damage assessments that are done to the insurance company if they delay in paying your claim timely.

Miya Shay: So they can still file a homeowners insurance claim any time? It’s just after the deadline tomorrow, the law changes so you get less benefits, I guess, if the insurance company does not pay you out in what you believe is proper.

Steve: Yeah. For example, right now the law has an 18% penalty for a delay in payment. That is to give the insurance companies an incentive to pay and hold on to after 12:01, September 1st at 12:01 under the law. That is how they would judge it. After September 1st or by September 1st, that penalty is cut in half. So the insurance companies don’t quite have the incentive. There are other provisions of the law that will take effect. There is not much that you can do about it.

Miya Shay: Just to clarify, people don’t have to hire an attorney. They should just file your claim.

Steve: Do not hire an attorney right now. You do not need an attorney to file a claim.

Miya Shay: The attorneys who say hire me right now to fix —

Steve: There is no cause of action right now. There is no lawsuit. File your claim in writing. That is by e-mail. Go online to your insurance company. You can, you know, do a fax. But it should be in writing and file a claim that will protect them on getting the additional penalties and interest.

Miya Shay: As for the folks who have flood damage like the folks in Meyerland and Bellaire and Kingwood and all of the video that we have been seeing, what should they do? There is no law that goes into effect when it comes to flood insurance.

Steve: Right. There’s no new law going into effect. Those folks will need to file a sworn proof of loss within 60 days with a detailed estimate. Normally FEMA extends that deadline. We did in Sandy up in New York. If you think you have both, flood and rising water, flood will cover up to where the water line is. And then if you have roof leaks, that is your homeowners policy. If it is your homeowners, best advice, file it tomorrow if you can. If you can’t, it won’t prevent you from bringing a claim. It’s just that what is available to you for compensation will be different.

Miya Shay: Okay. Thank you very much. Steve Mostyn a local attorney. You don’t need to hire an attorney. You just need to file your claims if you have those concerns. Clarifying some of that for us. No doubt so many people impacted. This is certainly not the first time legal insurance questions will come up for tens of thousands of people. Now back to you.

News Anchor: Miya, it seems impossible that everybody will be able to file in time when we’re in the midst of a crisis. is there any indication there might be an extension or perhaps — perhaps people will be able to amend it?

Miya Shay: Well, the law is the law. What Steve has told us is when it comes to homeowners insurance, you can still file it, it doesn’t matter. It is that the benefits will be different. As far as flood insurance, you have 60 days. But you have asked the government to extend the 60 days for flood insurance people.

Steve: Yeah. The problem on the flood insurance programs under normal circumstances they want a detailed estimate in that’s impossible in a disaster zone. We went ahead and asked FEMA which we did in the Austin floods which they granted to extend it by a year. They have done that before in other catastrophes.

Miya Shay: Hopefully they will do this this time as well.