Claims Handling

Consent to Settle Does Not Establish UM/UIM Coverage

February 12th, 2018 By Sheila Tan

A recent federal case out of the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, highlights an important but occasionally misunderstood rule in UM/UIM litigation – that the insurer’s consent to an insured’s settlement with the third-party driver is no substitute for a legal judgment establishing liability and damages, which remains a condition precedent to coverage.   The phrase “legally entitled to recover” under the UM/UIM section of the auto policy means that a plaintiff must obtain a judgment against the third-party driver
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Court Hammers Roofer Who Was Acting as an Adjuster

September 25th, 2017 By Sarah Scott

Insurers have frequently battled with sometimes-unscrupulous parties who encourage homeowners to file claims for unneeded repairs. (These battles, in fact, spurred recent legislation that you can read about on our blog here and here.) A recent decision out of the Fort Worth Court of Appeals makes it clear that contractors who try to get around regulations for public adjusters – in other words, who offer to do work and seek payment from insurance companies – do so at their own
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Hurricanes and Hailstorms – What’s New and What’s True

August 31st, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

We’ve seen some misinformation floating around regarding the effect of the recent Hailstorm Bill on insurance claims. The Hailstorm Bill applies to all claims for property damage caused by forces of nature, including earthquake, earth tremor, wildfire, flood, tornado, lightning, hurricane, hail, wind, snowstorm, or rainstorm. The new legislation will apply to lawsuits filed on or after September 1, 2017. Although all major provisions of the Hailstorm Bill apply to suits filed on or after September 1, 2017, the change
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Hurricane Harvey Hits Home

August 28th, 2017 By Catherine Hanna

It’s been a soggy weekend here in Central Texas, but our thoughts and prayers are with our friends, family, and colleagues on the Texas coast and in the Houston area as they deal with the devastation of the hurricane and the horrific flooding that Houston continues to experience. We are heartened by the response of our fellow Texans, as first-responders and civilians risk life and limb to help those in need of rescue. We know that this is a scary
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To Protect Itself, Insurer Must Consider Agency Principles Before Issuing Payment to Joint Payees

February 6th, 2017 By Eric S. Peabody

Insurers frequently issue checks to multiple payees – usually to some combination of the insured, adjuster/third-party administrator, mortgagee or lienholder, and attorneys. Carriers had long considered themselves protected when issuing payment to joint payees by simply including all payees on the check; if a bank cashed the check without the signature of all payees – or with the forged signature of a payee – liability for that error rested squarely with the bank. See, e.g., Benchmark Bank v. State Farm
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New Fifth Circuit Decision Revisits Stowers Liability in the Multiple-Insured Context

January 7th, 2017 By David L. Plaut

If you were paying attention to friends and family over the holidays and not reading slip opinions, you may have missed the recent Fifth Circuit decision in OneBeacon Ins. Co. v. T. Wade Welch & Assocs., 841 F.3d 669 (5th Cir. 2016).   Wade Welch held that a valid Stowers demand could offer to settle with one and not all insureds under a policy.   Id. at 677-82. Under Texas law, an insurer may be liable for negligently failing to settle within
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​Soriano – The best friend insurance carriers don’t know they have.

December 14th, 2016 By Catherine Hanna

Here at Hanna & Plaut, we are happy to answer our clients’ questions about Texas law and how that impacts their claims handling. One of the most frequent questions we get involves claims with multiple claims and inadequate policy proceeds to settle those claims. Our clients struggle with the problem of what to do when everyone cannot be made whole. The Texas Supreme Court has given carriers very clear direction in these cases. In Texas Farmers Ins. Co. v. Soriano,
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