All Hail Breaks Loose

Storm-related lawsuits are wreaking havoc in Texas.

Mother Nature can be tempestuous. Florida faces the risk of hurricanes; Oklahoma bears the brunt of tornadoes; states bordering the Mississippi River endure flooding; California is prone to earthquakes. In Texas, the most common peril is hail, sometimes the size of golf balls (or even larger). Hail storms are rarely deadly, but they can inflict substantial property damage, especially to roofs and other exposed surfaces. Increasingly, hail storms in Texas are accompanied by another form of disaster, too, albeit one that is man-made: mass litigation.

Opportunistic trial lawyers in the Lone Star State, alert to flaws in the legal system, have rocked the insurance industry with an inundation of storm-related lawsuits. Not surprisingly, some insurers have responded by hiking rates. Others have withdrawn from the market or curtailed hail coverage. Absent reform, homeowners’ insurance rates in Texas, already 50 percent higher than the national average, will skyrocket. Many Texas homeowners are already finding that insurance is unavailable or unaffordable.

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