The Firm . Settlement in TWIA lawsuit


Settlement in TWIA lawsuit

The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association agreed Wednesday to pay an estimated $189 million to settle a large block of Hurricane-Ike related lawsuits

“We just reached a settlement, now official, with TWIA for $189 million for those who had homes or structures that were completely destroyed by Ike,” Friendswood attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents some 300 claimants, told The Journal via e-mail. “The settlement was only for those who had complete losses who hadn't already received a final payment.”

Individual policyholders with attorneys can choose to accept or decline the offer, which includes:

-- Attorney fees;

-- 37 percent of the home’s replacement value less improvements already completed;

-- 25 percent of the value of coverage for contents.

-- 35 percent of additional living expense coverage.

Policyholders not part of the settlement may receive payments from a separate class action settlement. That settlement is pending.

“The settlement is exponentially times more than TWIA was willing to pay voluntarily,” Buzbee said. “Although this was what we are calling a slab settlement, it bodes well for those who still have outstanding claims for windstorm damage from ike. This is a great settlement.”

The state-created TWIA is the windstorm insurer of last resort for homeowners and businesses in coastal counties most vulnerable to hurricanes.

At issue was the size of payments to claimants. TWIA claims it calculated claims properly. Buzbee and other attorneys representing the claimants argued the settlements were based on faulty numbers.

"The proposed settlement represents a compromise as a result of mediation. TWIA does not believe its adjusting methods were flawed, and it has not admitted liability by entering into a settlement,” TWIA general manager Jim Oliver said in a statement.

The settlement ended a week of mediation between the two sides.

“We fought TWIA for almost two years,” Buzbee said.


Jim Molony
The Journal of Friendswood
July 15, 2010