Legal Notification Alert – Insurance Issues
Effective Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, a new Texas law (House Bill 1774,) takes effect that governs Texas insurance claims. Specifically, there are differences in this new law that could affect Texas policyholders who suffer claims involving “forces of nature.” The new law lessens penalties against insurance companies that fail to pay valid claims, pay less than amounts owed or fail to timely pay such claims. It also requires certain pre-lawsuit notices by property owners, changes the amount of interest payable on claims that are determined to be underpaid or paid late, and may affect the amount of attorneys’ fees recoverable in a lawsuit. This change was covered in the Dallas Morning News and the Houston Chronicle.
Because of the impending law, some legal authorities are recommending that policyholders who have suffered property damage and or/business interruption due to the effects of Harvey should make a written claim submission (by electronic mail or other written instrument) to their insurers by Aug. 31, 2017 in order to avoid any potential impacts of the new law. However, there has been some controversy on the impact of this new law, as it applies to the filing of lawsuits, in particular. In addition, the new law is not supposed to affect flood insurance claims. While the law should not affect the date for filing of claims, it may ultimately impact recoveries or issues associated with a lawsuit that may result from a claim against an insurance company.
If you have personal questions or need legal advice about this law as it relates to you, we recommend that you seek your own legal counsel.
In addition, as a LYB employee, we remind you that the company is offering certain legal/financial assistance as part of our Hurricane Harvey Employee Resources and Benefits. Employees can call 888-596-8008, option 18 and request a CLC financial referral. The financial coaches will address individual concerns directly, including, but not limited to: filing claims with FEMA, filing claims with their insurance companies, general hardship and finding local disaster relief organizations.
CVS Pharmacy Update
CVS is working as quickly as possible to reopen stores and pharmacies affected by Hurricane Harvey. Visit https://cvshealth.com/newsroom/cvs-pharmacy-hurricane-harvey for a regularly updated list of open CVS stores.
All calls to closed stores with operational telephone lines are being forwarded to open stores.
CVS Pharmacy continues to contact patients via text reminding them to refill prescriptions and keep medications with them. For more information about refilling prescriptions in affected areas, please see the Benefits PDF.
Beware donation scams
As employees begin receiving requests for donations to help victims of Hurricane Harvey, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) is warning people to remain vigilant about malicious cyber activity seeking to capitalize on Hurricane Harvey’s devastation.
Emails requesting donating from duplicitous charitable organizations commonly appear after natural disasters. Employees are advised to exercise caution when handling email with a subject line, attachments or hyperlinks related to the hurricane, even if it appears to come from a trusted source. Fraudulent emails will often contain links or attachments that direct users to phishing or malware-infected websites.
US-CERT encourages people to use caution when encountering these types of email messages and take the following preventive measures to protect themselves from phishing scams and malware campaigns:
- Do not follow unsolicited web links in email messages.
- Use caution when opening email attachments.
- Keep antivirus and other computer software up to date.
- Review the Federal Trade Commission information on Charity Scams.
- Verify the legitimacy of any email solicitation by contacting the organization directly through a trusted contact number. You can find trusted contact information for many charities on the BBB National Charity Report Index.
The State Bar of Texas is offering free legal assistance at their toll-free number. Employees can call 800-504-7030 for help with basic questions, such as rental agreements, tenant rights and other issues, in English, Spanish or Vietnamese. If you need a lawyer, call the State Bar’s Lawyer Referral & Information Service at 800-252-9690. For more information on legal help, check the Benefits PDF.