Insurance companies hammered in Jefferson County in 2012, make up 35 percent of all filings
Although there was a noticeable decline in civil filings in Jefferson County District Court from 2011, insurance providers were granted no reprieve in 2012.
Court records reveal that more than 35 percent of the 2,189 lawsuits filed in the county in 2012 were against insurers.
In fact, around 782 of suits filed in the Beaumont courthouse name an insurance provider as the primary defendant, according to a hand count of entries in the new case log available in the Jefferson County District Clerk's Office.
A vast majority of the insurance lawsuits were filed against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and brought by Golden Triangle residents who allege the entity failed to pay for windstorm damage caused by either Hurricane Ike or various other wind storms, court records show.
Still, several dozen suits did name insurance companies other than TWIA, such as Allstate and State Farm, as defendants – the majority of which were filed by plaintiffs claiming they did not receive enough benefits following an automobile collision.
When compared to 2011, the number of suits filed in 2012 dropped by 355, as 2011 peaked with 2,544 lawsuits.
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 damage from Hurricanes Rita and Ike they claim were covered by their homeowner’s policy.
No matter the year, in every windstorm suit, plaintiffs allege the insurers have wrongfully denied a portion of claims even though the policy provided coverage for the losses.
These plaintiffs also allege violations of the Texas Insurance Code-Unfair Settlement Practices, Texas Insurance Code-Prompt Payment of Claim and breach of contract.
Texas 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.
Even though the storm struck more than four years ago, additional Hurricane Ike suits could be filed in 2013, since 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.