Corpus Christi and the Coastal Bend of Texas | We Investigate

6 Investigates: TWIA shorting customer who says he paid his bill in full

All Joseph Park can do these days is tell you how his Rockport home used to look.

Hurricane Harvey peeled a corner off of his roof, exposing the home to rain and water damage.

Now, more than a year later, Park has a bigger problem. Texas Windstorm Insurance Association insured his home for $300,000, but they didn’t pay that, not even close.

Instead Park says he got less than $170,000 from TWIA. It’s not nearly enough to get things done.

And they paid it after a building consultant changed the initial estimate to a much lower figure.

TWIA’s Jennifer Armstrong says they called in building consultants on about 3 percent of Harvey’s claims. And that using them is standard practice.

“Other private companies will bring in building consultants, professional engineers, that sort of thing to make sure we get all of the information so that we can make an accurate determination of what’s owed under the policy,” Armstrong said.

But Houston insurance lawyer John Black disagrees.

“This is all just a cheat on Texans that are in a terrible situation after one of the worst storms we’ve ever had,” Black said.

Now, Park’s case is going to court.

Park hired Black to sue TWIA on his behalf.

And Black says the intent to make a case that TWIA is using laws meant to protect Texans … against Texans.

It all revolves around TWIA’s use of the words “accepted in full.” Despite having slashed the payout offered under a policy.

Words that Black says are being used like “magic dust” to keep policy holders in limbo and TWIA out of court.

“Under the law, if they ‘accept a claim’ in full, they use those magic words. Then, the whole case goes to appraisal, not court.

“This is all about delaying, denying or underpaying claims.”

Armstrong says there are no magic words in TWIA policies, and that it is not TWIA’s plan to low-ball or stonewall policy holders.

“Texas Windstorm does not try to underpay claims. Our sole purpose, here, is to be there for our policyholders when they need us most.”

For Park, it’s simply a question of getting what he thinks he paid for when he bought that insurance policy.

“I bought an insurance policy. I paid a lot of money for an insurance policy, but I did not get what that insurance policy said I should have gotten.”

Armstrong tells us that of the 77,000 claims filed since Harvey; exactly 287 have ended up in court as of the end of October. Those are the latest figures available.

Park tells KRIS 6 Investigates that Live Oak Construction – the contractor working on his claim – has continued to work for him despite the cash shortage.

And there’s no word yet on when the lawsuit will go to trial.

 

Tim Griffin

Tim Griffin

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