Dwayne Hermes of Hermes Law, along with James Dickey of iMGA are rallying support for SB 10 and HB 1774 following a huge 1400% increase in weather-related lawsuits since 2011.
In a testimony prepared by James Dickey he explains how iMGA almost went out of business due to false claims made after the hailstorms experienced in Texas between 2012 and 2014. iMGA builds relationships with insurance companies willing to sell a product that they underwrite. They then recruit and manage the retail agents, and provide all the policy service. iMGA specializes in providing coverage for homes that, on average, are much smaller, older and lower in value than those insured by the mainstream companies.
Following the Texas hailstorms in 2012, 2013 and 2014, insurance companies had lost money each year but were still doing well enough to continue providing the coverage Texas homeowners needed via iMGA. However, in late 2014 lawsuits started to arrive for cases which were previously thought to have been resolved and closed.
In the majority of cases, up to a year would pass after a case had been resolved, or in some cases when a claim had never been made. Then a lawsuit would arrive asking for large sums of money, with law suit costs approaching that of replacing the entire house. These demands would bear no reasonable relationship to the losses incurred. The insurance companies would be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars defending the lawsuit and then the case would settle for a small fraction of the original amount demanded. In most cases the plaintiff’s lawyer would receive several times more than the insured.
It was thanks to those lawsuits that iMGA very nearly went out of business. Their original backers refused to do so anymore and they had to search for another company willing to step up. But that could only happen if iMGA significantly increased rates and deductibles and stopped selling policies at all in the counties where they’d had the worst lawsuit experience. Of the 3,321 first party claims since January 2012, iMGA managed to involve a lawyer in 122. Nevertheless, the legal defence fees on those cases have totalled over $3.8 million.
If Texas homeowners are to be able to continue insuring their homes with the security of being able to raise a genuine lawsuit, this simply cannot be allowed to continue. The current system encourages abuse to the point that there is serious market disruption, and if it continues, it will be the homeowners of Texas who pay the price.
This is why Hermes Law is supporting James Dickey and SB 10 and HB 1774. To find out more, watch James Dickey lobbying for support here.