Texas Insurance Dept Fines Capitol County Mutual for Bad Faith
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UPDATED: Feb 9, 2020
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The Texas Department of Insurance has fined the Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company for misrepresenting insurance policies and for treating policyholders in bad faith after Hurricane Rita hit the Texas coast in 2005.
What the fine represents
According to news reports, the Texas Department of Insurance fined the Capitol County Mutual Fire Insurance Company $150,000 for misrepresenting policies to its clients, taking too long to respond to claims, using adjusters who were not qualified to do their job and failed to pay claims where the insurer was liable to policyholders. The initial investigation is being followed by an audit and may double that fine. The audit is supposed to be completed this year.
Fines are just the beginning
Fines may be the least of the insurer’s worries. Capital County Mutual may face a class action lawsuit brought by policyholders after it withdrew wind coverage from policies after Hurricane Rita, which caused over $2 billion in damage and devastated homes in Southwest Texas, an area prone to hurricanes. The insurer is also facing additional, private lawsuits from policyholders who were treated in bad faith.
Many of the policyholders did not file lawsuits against the company until the Texas Department of Insurance announced that it had fined the company after its investigation. According to reports, most of the policyholders’ lawsuits allege two claims: 1) that Capitol County Mutual failed to correctly value the storm damage, and 2) that the insurer’s claim handling practices equated to bad faith.
Bad faith practices
Insurance companies are required to treat their policies in good faith. Unfortunately, many do not, especially when it comes to natural disasters like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. In those disasters, countless insurers denied coverage to policyholders who needed it the most and engaged in shady claims practices such as concluding that floods (which are not covered under homeowners’ policies), instead of wind damage (which generally is covered), was responsible for their damages, even though adjusters hired by the insurers said otherwise.
Luckily, policyholders can fight back. Many attorneys’ practices focus strictly on insurance bad faith litigation. They understand how insurance companies operate and, more importantly, know how to overcome the tactics they employ. If you’ve been denied a valid insurance claim, discuss your situation with an experienced bad faith insurance attorney. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.