Couple claims Farm Bureau under paid hurricane claim

Kelly Holleran Feb. 25, 2009, 12:47pm

A Jefferson County couple has filed suit against Texas Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company, alleging they were not paid money to which they were entitled after Hurricane Ike destroyed sections of their home.

When Charles and Dora Bessards' property at 5240 Nelkin Lane in Beaumont sustained roof, water, wind and contents damages on Sept. 13 during Hurricane Ike, they submitted a claim to Texas Farm Bureau, which had insured their property, according to the complaint filed Feb. 19 in Jefferson County District Court.

The Bessards requested Texas Farm Bureau cover the cost of repairs, plus additional living expenses, the suit states.

However, Texas Farm Bureau denied the Bessards' claim for the repairs of their property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses, they claim.

It denied the repairs after assigning an adjuster to adjust the claim.

Texas Farm Bureau told the Bessards 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 Texas Farm Bureau misrepresented to Plaintiffs that the damage to the property was not covered under the policy, even though the damage was caused by a covered occurrence," the suit states.

Texas Farm Bureau also failed to make an attempt to settle the Bessards' claim in a fair manner, a violation of the Texas Insurance Code, unfair settlement practices, they claim.

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

Texas Farm Bureau failed to affirm or deny coverage of the claim within a reasonable time frame, the suit states.

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

Texas Farm Bureau is liable for common law fraud because each of its representations contained facts it knew were false, according to the complaint.

Texas Farm Bureau breached its contract with the Bessards by refusing to pay the policy, according to the suit.

It also committed numerous violations of the Texas Unfair Settlement Practices.

The Bessards are seeking unspecified actual, treble, punitive and exemplary damages, plus attorney's fees, costs, pre- and post-judgment interest and other relief the court deems just.

Michael R. Ramsey and Gregory F. Cox of The Mostyn Law Firm in Beaumont and J. Steve Mostyn of The Mostyn Law Firm in Houston will be representing her.

The case has been assigned to Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court.

Case No. E183-339

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