Ike damage has homeowner taking windstorm insurer to court

Kelly Holleran Jan. 21, 2009, 6:22am

A Jefferson County woman has filed suit against Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, alleging she was not paid money to which she was entitled after Hurricane Ike destroyed sections of her home.

When Vivien Gandy's property at 1445 Mimosa Lane in Beaumont sustained damages on Sept. 13 during the storm, she submitted a claim to Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, which had insured her property, according to the complaint filed Jan. 12 in Jefferson County District Court.

Gandy requested Texas Windstorm Insurance Association cover the cost of repairs, the suit states.

However, Texas Windstorm Insurance Association improperly paid Gandy for the replacement of her property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses, he claims.

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association told Gandy it would not pay the full proceeds of the policy, although demand was made for it, which constitutes a breach of the insurance contract, the suit states.

"Defendant misrepresented to Plaintiff that the damage to the property was not in excess to the amount paid, even though the damage was caused by a covered occurrence," the suit states.

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association also failed to make an attempt to settle Gandy's claim in a fair manner, a violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, he claims.

The company failed to explain the reason for its offer of an inadequate settlement, another violation of the Texas Insurance Code, according to the complaint.

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association failed to affirm or deny coverage of the claim within a reasonable time frame, the suit states.

It refused to fully compensate Gandy, even though it did not conduct a reasonable investigation, which constitutes another violation of the Texas Unfair Competition and Unfair Practices Act, Gandy alleges.

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association failed to meet its obligations under the Texas Insurance Code regarding acknowledging Gandy's claim, beginning investigations into her claim and requesting all information necessary to investigate her claim, according to the complaint.

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association's behavior constitutes a breach of contract because it did not live up to promises made in its insurance policy with Gandy, according to the complaint.

Gandy is seeking three times his actual damages, plus consequential damages, attorney's fees, costs, post-judgment interest of 18 percent per annum and exemplary damages.

Wyatt D. Snider and Jason M. Byrd of Snider and Byrd in Beaumont will be representing him.

The case has been assigned to Judge Gary Sanderson of the 60th District Court.

Case No. B183-010

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