Press Statement on Committee Vote on HB 1774, the Blue Tarp Bill
Ware Wendell, Executive Director of Texas Watch, a non-partisan citizen advocacy organization that works to protect policyholders, released the following statement regarding HB 1774, one of the Blue Tarp Bills, which passed the House Committee on Insurance today on a 6-3 vote:
HB 1774 threatens the rights of every property owner in the state and strengthens the hand of insurance companies in claims disputes. In doing so, it endangers the ability of property owners to rebuild after disaster strikes.
With respect to nature-related property claims, the legislation:
1) Reduces the penalty interest rate for insurers that delay payment from 18% to a rate currently set at 10%;
2) Allows insurers to assume the liability of their agents and adjusters, enabling insurers to forum shop by artificially forcing many cases into federal court where it takes twice as long to receive justice; and
3) Requires property owners to send additional and highly-detailed pre-suit notice with serious consequences for their recovery if they do not correctly guess at the outset what the jury may ultimately award them.
If it passes into law, HB 1774 will result in additional delay, cost, and uncertainty for property owners, which will only work in favor of insurers. It does nothing to distinguish good claims from bad and effectively rewards insurers that cheat their customers by lessening penalties and giving them special privileges under the law.
The Blue Tarp Bill moves next to the House Calendars Committee.