One quarter of all Jefferson County suits filed in 2011 over Hurricane Ike

David Yates Jan. 5, 2012, 7:35am

Hurricane Ike destroyed thousands of beach houses on the Bolivar Peninsula and Galveston Island in September 2008.

Although it's been more than three years since Hurricane Ike made landfall, the storm is still dominating Southeast Texas, with area residents filing hundreds of Ike-related lawsuits in 2011.

In fact, court records reveal that more than one quarter of the 2,544 lawsuits filed in Jefferson County District Court in 2011 were against insurers over claims made for property damage caused by Hurricane Ike.

Ike -- considered to be one of the most costly storms to strike the U.S. -- made landfall on Sept. 13, 2008.

Of the 2,544 suits brought in 2011, approximately 655 or 25.7 percent, were filed on behalf of residents who allege insurance companies failed to pay for hurricane damage covered by their homeowner's policy.

In almost every suit, plaintiffs allege the insurers have wrongfully denied a portion of claims even though the policy provided coverage for the losses. They also allege violations of the Texas Insurance Code-Unfair Settlement Practices, Texas Insurance Code-Prompt Payment of Claim, breach of contract, breach of duty of good faith and fair dealing, fraud and deceptive trade practices.

The vast majority of the Ike cases filed name the Texas Windstorm Association as the primary defendant, court records show.

Gulf Coast residents have no option except to obtain windstorm coverage through TWIA, since insurance companies like Allstate and State Farm stopped providing windstorm coverage along the coast after Hurricane Rita.

In Galveston County District Court, TWIA agreed to a $189 million settlement -- $44 million of which was allocated for attorney's fees.

The two-year statute of limitations to file an Ike claim starts at the date of the last insurance check received, according to courthouse officials.

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