Archives for Texas Personal Property Insurance

In 2016 Non-Admitted carriers accounted for over $5.1 billion in premium in Texas. Private flood insurance was only $19.1 million of that.

But as the federal government has begun the process of opening the flood insurance market to private competition, the coverage options have increased and the number of people choosing these new private options has increased dramatically.

As a result, the number of Non-Admitted flood policies has increased 702% just between 2014 and so far in 2017. The state office that regulates Surplus Lines (Non-Admitted) policies in Texas just released a statement saying:

“Proposed bills in Congress could allow easier entry into the flood market by private surplus lines insurers, spreading risk and reducing building pressure on the NFIP. The surplus lines market has proven that if this legislation passes, it is ready and able to take on an increased market share.”

That same department (the Surplus Lines Stamping Office of Texas) produced this infographic to show just how much and how quickly things have changed for the better for Texas consumers:

Texas-SurplusLines-Flood-Facts

 

The iMGA flood program, and other Non-Admitted programs, can offer higher coverage limits, shorter wait times, better payment plans, improved coverages and more. If you’re a Texas independent insurance agent that represents iMGA, quote one today or call our underwriting department for details. If you’re a Texas independent insurance agent that does not represent iMGA, start that process now.

Hurricane Harvey FloodingWe’ve seen first hand in Texas how devastating floods can be. As an agent you know how important it is for your clients – even ones whose neighborhoods haven’t flooded in decades – to have good flood coverage.

Just as important, we’ve seen insureds without flood coverage sue their agents claiming that they were never presented with a Flood coverage quote – making for a big E&O exposure and claim.

iMGA is proud to provide you access to one of the best flood products on the market – one with dwelling limits up to $1 million, plus contents, other structures and loss of use coverage up to a total insured value of $2 million, a wide range of deductible choices, easy payment options and a 1 week or less waiting period.

But the best possible policy isn’t of any use if you can’t present the quote – and it won’t protect you if it isn’t presented.

So at iMGA we’ve now made it so on every iMGA Homeowners quote you can also get a Flood quote with almost zero extra effort. Simply review five extra questions and that’s it – you’ll get a Flood quote too! If your insured rejects that Flood coverage our system gives you a very clear rejection option that you can have them sign – protecting you in the case it turns out later they needed that coverage.

At iMGA we work very hard to make things as easy and useful for our agents as possible. If you’re an iMGA Texas independent insurance agent, quote a homeowners policy today. If not, start the process to become an agent.

 

Disclaimer: Is not currently available in the following counties:
Aransas, Bee, Brazoria, Brooks, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Hardin, Harris, Hidalgo, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kleberg, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Montgomery, Newton, Nueces, Orange, Polk, Refugio, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Tyler, Victoria, Waller, Wharton, Willacy

In the legislative session that ended in May 2017, the Texas Legislature passed HB 1774, which finally prevented abusive lawsuits that dramatically increased the cost of home insurance for all Texans. Unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas to spread false stories about what HB 1774 did and did not change.

Fortunately the organization Texans for Lawsuit Reform has released a solid factual statement with the truth, the short answer of which is a resounding NO!:

Statement Regarding Hurricane Harvey and HB 1774

AUSTIN – Texans for Lawsuit Reform today issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Harvey:

“TLR was founded in Houston and continues to have strong roots in the community. We are devastated to see the damage that has been unleashed on the city, and on our friends, family and neighbors,” TLR President Dick Trabulsi said. “The Texans affected by this historic disaster deserve our full support as they begin to pick up the pieces. To assist with disaster relief efforts across the impacted area, TLR has made a donation to the American Red Cross, and we ask all Texans to join us supporting the relief efforts and in praying for all who have been impacted.”

As with any evolving situation of this nature, misinformation can spread quickly. Texans should have the facts about insurance claims following Hurricane Harvey:

The normal insurance claims process has not changed. Reform legislation passed in the last legislative session (HB 1774) goes into effect on September 1, 2017, and applies to lawsuitsfiled after that date. A person making a claim with her insurance company after September 1, 2017 will go through the same process as a person making a claim before September 1, 2017. Texans should contact their insurance companies directly to file claims.

Lawsuits are the exception – not the rule, and the vast majority of Texans will resolve their claims without needing to file a lawsuit.

Beware of anyone—lawyer, adjuster, contractor, or anyone else—claiming to help you get more money from your insurance company.

If your insurer does improperly deny or delay paying your claim, Texas has the strongest consumer protections in the nation for you, which will continue to be the case after September 1, 2017. Texans can receive full damages for unpaid claims, can recover attorney fees for legal action taken to recover those damages, and can also recover penalty interest. If an insurer acts fraudulently or in bad faith, additional remedies, including the recovery of triple damages, are available to Texans. This is true today, and it will be true after the reform legislation HB 1774 goes into effect on September 1, 2017.

The primary purpose of the new statute is to require written notice of a dispute before a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit is filed, it would happen months or years after the initial claim was made with the insurance company. Nothing in the new law passed by the Legislature earlier this year requires that the initial insurance claim be made in writing or by a specific date.

• The requirement for a written pre-lawsuit notice (not pre-claim notice) to the insurance company ensures the company is aware of its policyholder’s complaint and has had an opportunity to adequately address that complaint before being sued. It is a part of existing Texas law and does not disadvantage policyholders.

Furthermore, the new law will not apply to most claims or lawsuits arising from Harvey, because most of the policyholders’ claims will be for damage caused by flooding. These claims will be made under the federal flood insurance program and governed by federal law.

Similarly, the new law will not apply to lawsuits pursued against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), which is subject to an entirely different statute governing post-disaster lawsuits. TWIA provides insurance for many people affected by Harvey in our coastal counties.

The law that will become effective on September 1, 2017, is designed to do two important things:

1. Discourage the feeding frenzy by lawyers and contractors following natural events occurring in Texas over the past several years. These unscrupulous actors have taken advantage of thousands of hard-working Texans over the past several years.

2. Encourage out-of-state insurance adjusters to come work in Texas following a massive disaster like Harvey. In the following days and weeks, it will be critically important for out-of-state adjusters to work in Texas to ensure that insurance claims are evaluated and paid in a timely manner.

In sum, the new law does not affect the claims process. Instead, it affects only the lawsuits that sometimes follow the claims process. Furthermore, it does not create a new deadline for action by policyholders.

And in Springtime, that means really big hail.

Hail-compared-to-quarterLarge-hail-in-handLast night, less than one week into Spring, the first large hail storm swept in from Oklahoma, covering an area from Sherman to Denton.

There were reports of hail stones as large as baseballs and softballs. Many areas reported golf ball sized or larger. While the damage caused by such a storm can be severe, it’s far too often only made worse by unscrupulous people preying on those dealing with the storm’s aftermath.

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, fraud after a storm like this “can range from shoddy repairs to price gouging. In the worst cases, people offering services to storm victims may simply take their money and run.”

How Can You Avoid Fraudulent Storm Damage Contractors?

  • Start with a call to your insurance company to get an appraisal on what your repairs should cost.
  • Use local companies and check their references and contact numbers.
  • Get written estimates. These should be on the company’s letterhead with clear contact information.
  • Get more than one bid. This will help you gauge which offers are legitimate and which may be too high or too good to be true.
  • Don’t pay the full amount in advance. Legitimate contractors may require a partial payment up front to get started, but your final payment should not be made until the job is finished.
  • If you feel pressured or threatened, call the police.

Public Adjusters

Another concern is fraudulent activity by licensed public insurance adjusters and unauthorized individuals or entities acting as public insurance adjusters. Texas law prohibits public adjusters from participating in the repair process to prevent conflicts of interest. For example, roofers may not act as public insurance adjusters, or advertise that they will handle the insurance claim for you.

Report Insurance Fraud

If you have information about insurance fraud, file a complaint with TDI’s Fraud Unit online or by calling 1-800-252-3439.

 

If you’re an iMGA agent, make sure all your Dwelling, Homeowners, MobileHome, Renter and Vacant personal property insurance customers are properly covered.

If you’re not yet an iMGA agent, go ahead and start the process to become one now.

 

Springtime in Texas is beautiful.

It can also be fearsome.

2016 was a particularly tough year for spring thunderstorms in Texas. San Antonio alone was hit by two major hailstorms last year. The first hammered the northern metro area April 12 with hail up to 4.5 inches in diameter, or the size of grapefruits.

A second hailstorm on April 25 swept through western parts of San Antonio and impacted some of the same locations. Some areas saw tennis ball or baseball-sized hail, though overall the storms were not as impactful as what San Antonio experienced in the first storm.

A supercell thunderstorm spread a long swath of damaging hail through north Texas on April 11 as it moved just to the north of Dallas-Fort Worth.

The town of Wylie, Texas, was especially hard hit with hail up to the size of softballs.

Nearly all of the windows in this Wylie, Texas, home were knocked out by the April 11 hailstorm. (Twitter/@WylieBear1)

So, enjoy Springtime in Texas, but also be prepared. If you’re an iMGA agent, make sure all your Dwelling, Homeowners, MobileHome, Renter and Vacant personal property insurance customers are properly covered.

If you’re not yet an iMGA agent, go ahead and start the process to become one now.

 

St. Patrick's Day Four Leaf CloverSt. Patrick’s Day – also known as the Feast of St. Patrick – celebrates and commemorates the life of the patron saint of Ireland.

Captured and sold into slavery in Ireland during the 5th century, St. Patrick escaped. Later he returned Ireland to bring a message of redemption and hope to his adopted homeland.

Kidnapping. Slavery. Forgiveness. National impact. It’s little wonder that his story and memory lives on 16 centuries later.

We don’t have a story that dramatic at iMGA, and we haven’t been around that long. We do, though, have a history of making it as easy as possible for Texas independent insurance agents to meet the Dwelling, Homeowners, MobileHome and Renters needs of their customers.

With our Admitted and Non-Admitted solutions we’re not working miracles or chasing out snakes, but we are providing coverage for hard-to-place risks and offering unique additional coverages like People and Pets.

So if you’re an iMGA agent with a challenging risk, give us a try. If you’re not, go ahead and start the process now.

Who knows, you might be extra lucky!

Texas has many options for Spring Break. From beautiful solitude and remote nature to fun-loving crowds on beaches, at amusement parks and film and music festivals, there’s no shortages of great getaways and entertainment in the next couple of weeks in the Lone Star State.

Spring Break is a time to relax and have fun – and there’s plenty of fun to be had!

But the last thing your clients need is to spend their week off worrying about whether their homes and properties are protected – or worse yet, coming home to damage or theft that isn’t covered.

So, take a few minutes before they head out to make sure all their policies and coverages are in order, and that they don’t have any pending cancellations.

Of course at iMGA we’re ready and able to help you. Just log in today to quote an admitted or non-admitted Dwelling, Homeowners, MobileHome, Renters or Vacant policy, or check their policy status.

If you’re a Texas independent insurance agent that does not yet represent iMGA, please contact us today.

 

Texas Spring Break

 

Roof Hail DamageTexas Governor Greg Abbott gave his State of the State address this week and brought up a topic that most politicians might not:

One reason Texas attracts so many jobs is because of the strides we’ve made on tort reform. But our work is not done.

Hail-storm litigation is the newest form of lawsuit abuse.

To reduce the economic havoc, I want legislation on my desk that limits abusive hail-storm litigation.

Gov. Abbott is right – hail storm lawsuit reform is desperately needed.

We’ve seen lawsuits claiming:

  • losses long after the roof has already been able to be replaced with the insurance proceeds,
  • damages to non-existent garages,
  • fraud and abuse by adjusters who never handled the claim,
  • poor adjusting service on losses that were never even reported to the insurer (sue first, file claim later),
  • and much more.

Every one of those lawsuits costs many thousands of dollars to defend no matter how baseless.

All of this only enriches a handful of lawyers and makes it much harder for us to provide affordable coverage for homeowners who are not abusing the system.

It must stop.

You Can Help

Please contact your Texas legislator and ask them to listen to you, us and the Governor and enact hail lawsuit reform this session!

Seven years ago today iMGA issued our very first policy. Now, tens of thousands of customers later, we’re ready to begin our best year yet by far. For us, and our agents, seven is really turning out to be a lucky number.

Our Homeowners, Dwelling, MobileHome, Renters and Vacant non-admitted products have been refined and offer the broadest range of coverage options in the market. With these products iMGA agents are now able to provide their customers the absolutely unique People and Pets accidental death coverage. Full details on People and Pets – with up to $75,000 in additional coverage – is available on our agent dashboard. Just log in and follow the People and Pets Endorsement link.

Agents in most of Texas are now also able to offer their customers great new admitted Homeowners, Dwelling, MobileHome and Vacant product alternatives through iMGA.

Our incredible team has built strong relationships and deep experience servicing the needs of independent agents across Texas over these past seven years, and we’d all love to put that experience and expertise to work to serve you.

If you’re already appointed with iMGA, please take a moment to quote a customer with us. If you’re not, please contact us to learn more about what we have to offer and how we might work together.

The new year brings an opportunity to think about the kind of environment we’d like to create for ourselves and those we impact.

For many that means New Years Resolutions. At iMGA we’d prefer to focus on goals – goals we’ll take concrete steps to accomplish. Here’s some of what we have under way for our agents in 2017:

Improved Competitiveness

For the first time since our Non-Admitted Homeowners, Dwelling, MobileHome, Renters and Vacantprograms were introduced, we’ve been able to avoid broad rate increases for the coming year. As our competitors raise their rates, therefore, you should see iMGA’s quotes providing the best solution for your clients even more than usual. Plus, we’ve just introduced our Admitted products, providing a real alternative in terms of coverage and pricing, for your personal lines Homeowners, Dwelling, MobileHome and Vacant customers.

New Product Features

One of the advantages of Non-Admitted products is the ability to provide coverage for items, like mold and slab, that are not provided in the standard market. We have been testing a significant new product enhancement that is the first of its kind and truly unique in the market. As soon as it’s ready to introduce, we’ll have much more to say on that front. In the meantime we’re hard at work and looking forward to bringing it to you and your clients.

New Products

Insurance needs grow and evolve as technology, the marketplace and the environment change. There’s been plenty of that kind of change over the past few years, and in response we’ve been working on three new product programs. We’ll roll each of those out during 2017 as they become available, along with the training and information to ensure you’re able to confidently offer them to your clients.

 

2017 promises to be an amazing year for iMGA and our agents, and we can’t wait. Happy New Year!

 

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