TWIA sued over Port Arthur couple's hurricane claim

Kelly Holleran Feb. 25, 2009, 12:54pm

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

When Juan and Norma Cardenas' property at 6005 15th Street in Port Arthur sustained dwelling and contents damages on Sept. 13 during Hurricane Ike, they submitted a claim to TWIA, which had insured their property, according to the complaint filed Feb. 17 in Jefferson County District Court.

The Cardenas requested TWIA cover the cost of repairs, the suit states.

However, TWIA improperly paid the Cardenas' claim for the repairs of their property, even though the policy provided coverage for losses, they claim.

TWIA told the Cardenas 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 Plaintiffs 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.

TWIA also failed to make an attempt to settle the Cardenas' 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.

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

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

TWIA breached its contract with the Cardenas by refusing to pay the policy, according to the suit.

The Cardenas are seeking three times his actual damages, plus 18 percent post-judgment interest per annum and exemplary damages.

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

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Case No. D183-305

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