Insurance company accused of delayed response to storm claims

By Mario Diaz

HOUSTON - "You can't fix anything until insurance comes through. Well, we haven't heard anything from insurance, so how do you keep moving on? You're just frozen.”

The sentiments of Jeni Kite are common for many in the aftermath of Harvey.

Talk to anyone in Rockport and Port Aransas and they will tell you rebuilding is at a virtual standstill.

"It's so slow it's unreal,” is how David Lee describes the process.

The culprit according to them?

Not so much Harvey, but rather TWIA, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. TWIA is an insurance provider serving counties along the Texas coast with more than 234,000 policies totaling $67.6 billion.

TWIA policies only cover wind and hail damage.

While their mission statement touts being committed and reliable, policy holders like Kevin Baker in Rockport told Channel 2 Investigates they have been anything but that.

"I'm on my third claims examiner, my second field adjuster and I have yet to receive their report," he said.

Baker is not alone.

Kite said TWIA does not have answers -- even after an adjuster came to their home and told them to gut it.

"We went to get the information, the adjuster didn't turn it in, they thought maybe, he took off maybe he moved on we don't know," she said.

TWIA scheduled a new adjuster for Sept. 25.

There was one problem, though.

"I have not heard a word from him,” said Kite while standing in the skeleton frame of what is the first home she purchased.

It all comes as blue tarps are now landscape fixtures. Public adjusters like Clay Morrison out of Kemah said TWIA has failed to deliver for customers who paid policies for years.

"We have a lot of files down in Port Aransas and I know numerous people down there and very few have even gotten their first check a month after the storm," he said.

Morrison represents home and business owners when insurance companies fail to step up.

He is also the former president of the Texas Association of Public Insurance Adjusters, and while he and other adjusters like David Lee are shocked by what they say are grossly low estimates, they say they are more stunned by the actions of private onvestigators hired by TWIA, “I've been through several of these storms and I have never, ever seen an investigation unit like this."

TWIA admits it has been working with Veracity Research Company (VRC) Investigations for years -- to investigate fraudulent claims. However, Channel 2 Investigates discovered these private eyes are asking to see contracts between public adjusters and the clients who hired them, "My problem is if they are a private investigation group, they have zero authority in any kind of process of getting any kind of information like that."

Several Public Adjusters tell Channel 2 Investigates this is simply harassment to disrupt the process and ultimately delay a payment. Morrison says it is also TWIA wasting its customers' time, many of whom have paid thousands in premiums over the years, "I don't know why they would be investigating the claims themselves when there are so many people with so much damage that need so much help, it seems counterproductive to me."

Kite is one of those waiting for help, while she and others feel they should be moving forward at time when their lives are turned sideways, stopped dead in their tracks.

"A normal day is so far out there that you can't see a normal day coming and that breaks your heart," Kite said.

In response to Monday night’s report, the Texas Department of Insurance reached out to Channel 2 Investigates to assist in informing the public to contact the following if they are having troubles with their insurance carriers:

  • Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Help Line: 1-800-252-3439
  • Click or tap here to learn how to how to file a complaint

TDI wants to ensure that individuals receive the proper assistance. They also state that those calls and complaints will help TDI monitor how claims are being handled.

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