April 20, 2017
Texas Senate committee on Thursday approved a controversial bill that critics say will benefit insurance companies by restricting business and consumer access to the courts to resolve disputes over hail and other storm claims.
By a 7-1 vote without any discussion, the Senate Business & Commerce Committee advanced SB 10, which backers say will protect homeowners and business policyholders from the detrimental effects of unnecessary lawsuits. Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo voted no. Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, was not present when the vote was taken.
The vote came two weeks after a House committee approved the companion bill, HB 1774, which has not reached the House floor.
Supporters of the bill have said the measure targets “abusive” lawsuits while protecting consumers’ right to sue their insurance company if it acts unfairly or in bad faith. The bill would set new requirements on notices of a lawyer’s intent to sue and could restrict attorneys’ fees.
In addition to hail, the bill applies to earthquakes or tremors, wildfire, flood, tornado, lightning, hurricane, wind, snowstorms and rain.