Texas HB 1774, which has been referred to as the “Hailstorm Bill,” has passed in both the Texas House and Senate, and Governor Greg Abbott is likely to sign the bill into law. The bill specifically targets the huge spike in hailstorm-related lawsuits filed since 2012, by attempting to make it harder to bring and litigate weather-related property claims.
Changes to the Texas Insurance Code
If enacted into law, the “Hailstorm Bill” would be effective September 1, 2017, and would add several new provisions to the Texas Insurance Code affecting first-party property insurance claims. Notably, the bill would create a new Chapter 542A for weather-related claims, which would change the requirements for pre-suit notice and inspections, allow for the assumption of agent liability, and limit the amount of recoverable attorneys’ fees. A more detailed analysis of these changes is as follows:
The bill does not invalidate any potential causes of action that a policyholder can bring against its insurer. Attorneys’ fees are also still recoverable for those cause of action that allow for attorneys’ fees, but the bill tries to discourage claimants from filing grossly inflated demands by providing disincentives for doing so. The pre-suit notice letter is also expressly admissible in evidence, which previously was the subject of debate.