Texas’ so-called “hailstorm” bill has passed out of the Texas Senate Business & Commerce Committee, its author reports.
Senate Bill 10 by committee Chairman Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, is lawsuit reform legislation aimed at stemming the problem of storm-chasing, out-of-town attorneys blanketing local neighborhoods after a severe weather event like a hailstorm to solicit frivolous lawsuits.
SB 10 addresses the issue by giving an insurance company 60 days to resolve a disputed claim before being taken to court, a provision that should motivate insurers to fairly and quickly settle all claims. It also places limits on the percentage of a settlement that can be charged as attorney’s fees.
“The real root of the storm chasing problem is lawsuit abuse,” said Sen. Hancock said in an announcement released by his office. “That’s why we filed SB 10 and why both Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick have stated their strong support for passing hailstorm lawsuit abuse reform this session.”
The measure is supported by the property insurance industry, which has seen an increase in post-severe weather event litigation — particularly following hailstorms — in the past several years.
Hancock said at least a dozen companies have raised rates for homeowner’s insurance and at least seven insurers have limited or stopped writing policies in Texas altogether as a direct result of high court costs associated with attorney involvement in post-natural disaster claims.
The bill’s opponents say the legislation is simply an attempt to give even more power to insurance companies by limiting policyholders’ ability to hold insurers accountable via the judicial system.