Evacuating to a safe location is top priority, but if you had property damage, you should contact your insurance provider to file a claim as soon as possible.
Although insurance adjusters won’t be able to visit residences until the water recedes, notifying your insurance provider that you’ve been impacted is important since insurers often handle claims on a first-come, first-served basis.
Some homeowners may need to make several calls if they have separate policies for coverage apart from their primary insurance, like wind damage or flood insurance.
Ask about what your policy covers and offer as many details as possible to your insurance provider because you may have more coverage than you realize. For example, while homeowners insurance specifically excludes flooding, you may have a policy that covers water damage from a tree that fell through a window or wind damage to the roof.
Carefully document every interaction with your insurance provider in case there’s trouble with your claim down the road. Also, if you were unable to take photos of the damage to your property before escaping, work to get photos of the damage once the water recedes and it’s safe to return to your residence. Flood insurance is administered by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and has strict Proof of Loss procedures.
Be sure to save receipts because some homeowners policies include additional living expenses for emergency repairs, temporary housing, and meals. Insurers often payout these expenses quickly.
You may have seen various messages circulating on social media that insurance claims must be filed before Friday, September 1, 2017 because of a new law going into effect.
Some of it is accurate and some of it is not. The new law reduces the leverage a homeowner has against an insurance company, which makes it easier for companies to deny and delay certain claims. Here is what you need to know:
• The new law applies to wind damage claims for private insurance homeowners policies, but it does NOT apply to Texas Windstorm Insurance Association policyholders, which provides windstorm insurance in coastal counties.
• The new law does NOT apply to flood damage, which is governed by the NFIP.
Based on these points, if you will be impacted by this new law and have damage claims from Hurricane Harvey, attempt to file by September 1, 2017 if at all possible.
If you are unable to file prior to September 1, 2017, you can still submit a claim. The primary difference will be a reduction in penalty interest from 18% to 10% that an insurance company owes you if they fail to fully pay a legitimate claim in a timely manner. Ask your insurance provider for more details if you need additional information.
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