DID THE RECENT STORMS DAMAGE YOUR PROPERTY? IF SO, TAKE THESE STEPS:
1. REVIEW YOUR INSURANCE POLICY
If you have access to them, be sure to review your homeowners and auto policies. Before filing a claim, it is important to familiarize yourself with what is and is not covered by your policy, what deductibles may apply, and what your duties are after a loss. If you don’t have access your insurance policies, contact your agent or company to request copies. The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) can provide contact information for your company or agent should you need it. TDI can be reached at 1-800-252-3439.
Flood coverage is not typically provided by a homeowners, renters, condo or dwelling policy and must be purchased separately through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If you do not have flood coverage, but your home sustained flood damage, you may be able to get assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). They can be reached at (800) 621-FEMA or online at www.fema.gov.
2. IF YOU HAVE DAMAGE, FILE A CLAIM.
File claims as soon as possible. Call your agent or your company's claims hotline as soon as you are able. Your policy may require that you make the notification within a certain time frame. Ask them what needs to be done on your part to initiate a claim if you are unsure how to begin the process.
- Notify your agent or company if you need temporary shelter. Give them any contact information so that they know how to reach you. Under most circumstances, if you need to live elsewhere because of damage caused by a covered loss, you qualify for Additional Living Expenses (ALE). ALE will reimburse you for costs associated with staying in a hotel, motel, or other temporary shelter and for any meals or other costs necessitated by living away from your home.
- Provide complete, correct information. Give your insurance company all the information they request to initiate your claim. Incorrect or incomplete information can cause a delay in processing your claim.
- Keep copies of all correspondence. Whenever you communicate with your insurance company, be sure to keep copies and records of all correspondence, including the date, name and title of any person you spoke with and what was said.
If you do not have the contact information for your company or agent, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) can provide it. Call 1-800-252-3439.
3. ASSESS THE DAMAGE
Always check with your local authorities to make sure that it is safe to reenter your neighborhood and home. When assessing your property following a major storm, it is helpful to photograph and/or video any damage. This will help with the claims process.
If you have already conducted a home inventory prior to the storm, you can provide this information to your company. This will help them assess the value of any personal items that may have been damaged by the storm. If you have not prepared an inventory, your insurance company should provide you with a form to complete one as part of the claims process.
4. MAKE TEMPORARY REPAIRS
If it is safe to do so, make all reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Keep all receipts and do not dispose of damaged property until an adjuster has seen it. If possible, take photos or videos of the damage before making repairs. Don't make permanent repairs. An insurance company may deny a claim if you make permanent repairs before the damage is inspected.