If you’ve been affected by windstorms, hurricanes, and hail, chances are you have faced property damage that could cost you thousands of dollars.
If you have homeowners insurance, that is one step towards repairing the problem.
What Is Homeowner’s Insurance?
Homeowners insurance pays to repair or replace your personal property or home if damaged or destroyed by a condition or event covered by the insurance policy (covered losses).
The insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company, so be sure to read it carefully and understand the covered losses and dollar amounts.
What Types of Policies Are Available?
The two most common insurance policies in Texas are all-risk policies and perils policies. Keep in mind that even the most comprehensive all-risk policy will exclude certain types of damage, and companies may exclude coverage for certain losses.
All-risk policies cover a range of events including windstorms, hurricanes, and hail. The policy will explicitly state events not covered under this plan.
Conversely, perils policies only cover losses explicitly mentioned in the plan.
What Type of Coverage Do I Have?
Your covered losses will depend on which insurance policy you have, so it’s important to read through the policy carefully.
What Do If My Home Was Damaged By A Storm?
If your home or property is affected by a storm, contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the event. When you call, write down the date, name of the person you spoke with, and a summary of the conversation. Also, be sure to ask for a claim number for tracking and reference. Finally, request a timeframe for when you can expect to be contacted by the insurance company’s adjuster.
What To Do Before You Call
Make a list of the damages to your home and personal property. Use photos and video to document your losses, if possible. Keep damaged items for the insurance adjuster to see them.
If you need to make any immediate repairs to secure the safety of your home, make sure to keep all receipts. If you needed to stay at a hotel because your house was unsafe, keep those receipts as well.
While you are waiting, take reasonable steps to protect your home from further damage by covering holes and broken windows to keep out debris, rain, and other hazards. Any repairs you make while waiting for the insurance adjuster should be limited to minimal repairs necessary to prevent further damage.
What Happens Next?
When the insurance company’s adjuster comes to inspect the damage, accompany them during the inspection to ensure that they document all of the damage.
Insurance companies are obliged to let you know they have received your claim within 15 days of receipt. They might ask you for additional information or documentation, as well as filling out a proof-of-loss form.
The company must accept or reject your claim within 15 business days of getting all the information it needs from you. If the company rejects your claim, it must tell you why in writing.
If you disagree with the adjuster’s final estimate, inform the company of your reasons, and if you still disagree, you can use the appraisal process or hire a public insurance adjuster to resolve the dispute.
Finally, if you are unsatisfied with the outcome of your dispute, you have the right to sue the insurance company in a court of law. You can also ask for “alternative dispute resolution” (ADR), which uses mediation with a neutral third party to settle disputes outside of court.
When Will I Receive My Check?
Once an agreement is reached, and the company agrees to pay all or part of your claim, the insurance company must send you a check within five business days, but these deadlines may be extended after disasters.
Most companies pay homeowners claims with two checks. The first is issued after the adjuster looks at your loss and is the estimated cost of repairs, minus depreciation and your deductible. The second check will be issued after the company receives the contractor’s bill for the finished job, as long as the repairs were completed within 365 days from the date of the loss.
After disasters, such as the recent major flooding and storm damage, deadlines to send insurance claim checks may be extended for insurance companies.
House Bill 1774, a new law that was enacted in Texas effective September 1, 2017, lowers the interest payments of insurance companies who delay their claim payments from 18% to 10%.
If you are concerned about this new law and how it may affect you, speak to an attorney who can advise you on the best steps to take.
If you think an insurance company has treated you unfairly, you can call the Consumer Help Line at 800-252-3439, or enlist the help of an attorney.
To get help with the best possible outcome for your Homeowner’s Insurance Claim, call our office for a free consultation to speak with an attorney in Texas that is board certified in both Civil Trial Law and Personal Injury Trial Law today.