The story of Black Americans is still being written. Black lawyers are boundary breakers—from Macon…
Nine months after Hurricane Harvey leveled her business with Category 4 winds, Mary Ann Heiman has finally started the rebuilding process. Late last month, Heiman told a journalist from the Austin American Statesman that a new foundation slab to her business had been poured. It was a small victory after a months-long fight with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). The association initially denied her $60,000 claim citing the wrong address on her application. However, coverage from the Statesman possibly prompted TWIA to reverse its decision.
Since 2011, Heiman’s shop, Offshore Adventures, has sold bait that fishermen buy before heading out to sea. While the building itself was mostly made of tin, Offshore Adventures’ value is the content housed within its tin walls. After six years in the location, Heiman decided to purchase a policy with the TWIA in July 2017. Her timing seemed impeccable. A little over a month after purchasing her $679 policy, Harvey would leave nothing of her bait and tackle business.
Heiman immediately filed her claim when she saw what the storm had done to her business. But her plans for rebuilding were halted when TWIA denied her claim.
In an unfortunate mishap, the insurance agent responsible for setting up her policy had mistakenly transposed two numbers on her application. The mistake went unchecked when the insurance company’s underwriter was unable to confirm the address, but still approved Heiman’s policy, noting, “nothing seemed out of the ordinary.”
This seemingly small mistake set the course for the delay in Heiman’s recovery. In April, Heiman protested the company’s denial to the State Office Administrative Hearings. Judge Michael O’Malley wrote, the TWIA should pay her claim because “TWIA is as much to blame for insuring a property with an incorrect address as the insurance agency.”
While administrative hearings are merely recommendations, TWIA lawyer’s intended to continue opposing Heiman’s claim. Fortunately for her, nearly a week after the hearings, the Statesman published its original story about Heiman’s battle with TWIA.
TWIA never debated the legitimacy of Heiman’s policy, however, in an email sent to Heiman in late April, the association admits to being “too rigid” in the application of its rules.
Nearly a week after Heiman’s story initially ran in the Statesman, TWIA reversed its denial.
The Carlson Law Firm Can Help You
Insurance companies continue to be at the center of Hurricane Harvey victim’s sluggish recovery efforts. Heiman’s situation is evidence of the nine months of red tape insurance companies and federal programs are forcing many coastal residents to endure.
Luckily, media attention shined a light on Heiman’s situation and urged TWIA to do the right thing. However, not everyone will get a reporter’s attention. That’s where The Carlson Law Firm can help you. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience helping property owners get a fair claim from insurance companies.