Editorials

Remedy for hail damage lawsuits looks too broad

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Hail larger than golf balls pelted Forest Park Boulevard and the surrounding area near southwest Fort Worth on March 17, 2016.
Hail larger than golf balls pelted Forest Park Boulevard and the surrounding area near southwest Fort Worth on March 17, 2016. rmallison@star-telegram.com

The insurance industry makes a good case that lawsuits over hail damage claims in Texas have shot up and the Legislature should consider constraints.

But it looks like the industry has overreached with its proposed legislative remedy.

Texas leads all other states in hail damage claims, accounting for 30 percent of the U.S. total. The number here shot up from less than 150,000 in 2014 to nearly 400,000 in 2015, the industry says.

Property insurance lawsuits climbed from 2,233 in 2012 to 10,902 in 2014, then dipped to 9,910 in 2015.

The industry has even named villains. They say plaintiffs lawyers, roofing contractors and insurance adjusters swoop in after a storm and promise high rewards for homeowners who sign on for their help.

Legal costs are driving premiums higher and causing some insurers to leave Texas, the industry says.

Remedies, insurers say, are packaged in Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills.

SB 10 is a large-scale rewrite of key provisions of the Insurance Code — too large, it appears.

Rather than pinpointing and solving problems with hail claims, the bill lays contains extensive new requirements for all property damage claims. And the word “hail” is not to be found in it, not even “wind.”

If there’s a specific problem here, the insurance industry should help tailor a more specific bill to solve it.

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