The Texas Supreme Court recently published its long-awaited decision in the Hinojos v. State Farm Lloyds. In it, the court affirmed its holding in Barbara Technologies, finding that payment of an appraisal award does not absolve an insurer of statutory liability when the insurer accepts a claim but pays only part of the amount it owes within the statutory deadline, and a policy holder can proceed with an action under the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act.
In 2013, Louis Hinojos made a claim for storm damage to his home. State Farm’s initial inspection resulted in an estimate below the deductible, but Hinojos disagreed and requested a second inspection. At the second inspection, the adjuster identified additional damage resulting in a payment to Hinojos of $1,995.11. Hinojos then sued State Farm – and State Farm invoked appraisal approximately 15 months after suit was filed. The appraisal resulted in State Farm tendering an additional payment of $22,974.75. State Farm moved for summary judgment, arguing that timely payment of an appraisal award precluded prompt payment (or Chapter 542) damages. The trial court granted summary judgment and Hinojos appealed (notably Barbara Technologies had not yet been decided). The Court of Appeals affirmed State Farm’s victory on the basis that “State Farm made a reasonable payment on Hinojos’s claim within the sixty-day statutory limit….” Hinojos petitioned the Texas Supreme Court for review.