Unfortunately, it happens more than you’d think. Fortunately, both Texas law and the common law work to protect Texans from insurance companies that act in bad faith. Under the common law, there is an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing that requires any contracting party, including an insurance company, to treat you fairly. The Texas Insurance Code also prohibits insurance companies from engaging in deceptive practices and sets deadlines for insurers to investigate, pay, and settle claims. See Tex. Ins. Code §§ 541-42 (2005).
Statute of Limitations for Texas Bad Faith Claims
Unfortunately, if your insurance company hasn’t acted in good faith, you don’t have all the time in the world to pursue a claim against them. While Texas typically gives you four years to bring a suit for breach of contract, many Texas property policies attempt to limit policyholders from bringing claims against them to two years and one day after the property damage or physical loss happens. But for a bad faith claim, under Texas law, you will only have two years to file suit. The two-year limit begins from:
- The date the unfair method of competition or unfair or deceptive act or practice occurred
- The date the person discovered or, by the exercise of reasonable diligence, should have discovered that the unfair method of competition or unfair or deceptive act or practice occurred
The law may grant you an additional 180 days to file suit if you can prove that the insurance company’s conduct kept you from filing suit within the two-year limitation. See Tex. Ins. Code § 541.162 (2005).
Examples of Bad Faith Under the Texas Insurance Code
Knowing that some companies may act in bad faith, the Texas Insurance Code expressly prohibits insurance companies from using “unfair claim settlement practices.” See Tex. Ins. Code §§ 541.051, 541.060-61, 542.003 (2005). Some examples of an insurance company acting in bad faith regarding your homeowner’s insurance claim may include:
- Repeatedly requesting unnecessary or overly burdensome documentation and paperwork
- Failing to communicate with you about your claim promptly
- Delaying or drawing out its investigation of your claim
- Misrepresenting and undervaluing your claim
- Knowingly misrepresenting your coverage
- Trying to settle your claim for an unreasonably low amount
- Making payments without explaining what they’re for
- Failing to settle your claim when liability is reasonably clear
- Failing to explain your appeals rights
Why You Need a Lawyer for Your Bad Faith Claim
It would be nice to assume that all insurance companies will deal with homeowners in good faith. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. If you think your insurance company is acting in bad faith, refusing to investigate your claim, failing to communicate in a timely manner, or denying your claim without explanation, you need a lawyer to guide you through this process. If your insurance company isn’t cooperating, our experienced insurance lawyers can help get your claim back on the right path, protecting your rights and ensuring your insurance company pays you what you deserve.
Get Help From a Skilled Insurance Lawyer
If your Texas insurance company is giving you the run around about your homeowner’s insurance claim, you need skilled legal guidance. The Voss Law Firm can help. Our experienced insurance attorneys have been handling insurance matters in Texas for years. Contact us today to schedule your case evaluation.