For Austin, Texas, homeowners dealing with property damage, the expectation of a swift and equitable settlement from their insurance company is common. However, many find delays, denials or inadequate offers. The first question is often how long they have to respond to my initial inquiry.
Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act
The Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act serves as a regulatory framework governing how homeowners’ insurance companies manage claims in the state. The TPPCA meticulously outlines deadlines for insurance companies regarding the acknowledgment, investigation, acceptance, rejection or payment of claims. Additionally, penalties are imposed for non-compliance.
Per the TPPCA, an insurance company must adhere to the following timelines upon receiving a claim. First, the homeowners’ insurance company must acknowledge the claim’s receipt within 15 days. It must then initiate an investigation within 15 days, and request any necessary additional information within 15 days.
It must convey acceptance or rejection in writing within 15 business days post-receiving all required information. The homeowners’ insurance company must complete the payment within five business days post-acceptance.
What about extensions?
Extensions to these deadlines may be granted under specific circumstances. These extensions include weather-related catastrophes, and of course, the policyholder can request extensions. However, the insurer is obligated to inform the policyholder of any extensions and their reasons.
Penalties for TPPCA violations
Failure to comply with TPPCA deadlines exposes an insurance company to additional damages, interest and attorney’s fees. Policyholders can pursue legal action against their insurer for breach of contract and bad faith under the TPPCA.
The TPPCA imposes an 18% per annum interest penalty on the owed claim amount from the due date until payment. In addition, prevailing policyholders in a lawsuit against their insurance company can recover reasonable attorney’s fees.
Safeguarding your rights as a policyholder
Homeowners in Austin, Texas, navigating insurance claims should understand and assert their rights under the TPPCA. To safeguard these rights and ensure fair and timely claim handling, homeowners can take specific measures.
Maintain detailed records of all interactions with the insurance company, including calls, emails, letters and texts. Thoroughly document property damage with photos, videos, receipts, invoices, estimates and repair bills.
Cooperate with the insurance adjuster, providing requested information or documents. But, scrutinize the insurance policy to comprehend coverage and exclusions. And, refrain from accepting inadequate settlement offers or signing documents that waive rights.