Impacted by storm damage? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about filing a complaint.
Over the years, KPRC 2 has provided information on how to file a hurricane and frost damage claim. The winter thunderstorm and tornado that hit the Houston area this weekend again prompted people to clean up and call insurance companies.
We checked the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) site for the most recent information on what residents should do after a storm, as well as the most frequently asked questions about disaster claims.
Here are the steps to follow if you want to file an insurance claim under TDI:
Call your insurance company or agent ASAP, make sure they have your current phone number, and keep track of everyone you talk to (Ask about prepayment if you need help quickly, or about living expenses if you can’t stay in your house.)
Take photos and videos of the damage, don’t throw anything out until the claims adjuster says everything is fine
Temporary repairs to prevent further damage should be made – but do not make permanent repairs until a claims adjuster sees the damage
Make sure your address is visible from the street, this may mean putting a sign with your address in the yard
If possible, try to be present during the expert’s visit so that you can report any damage
Get several offers from contractors and compare them with the expert’s report before settling the claim (TDI offers information on the signs of a contract scam so you can avoid them)
Keep a list of repairs and save all receipts
Another note directly from TDI: Keep proof that you paid the deductible on the claim. A State Law makes it illegal for contractors or roofers to offer to waive a franchise or promise a refund for your franchise. It also allows insurance companies to ask for proof, such as a receipt or canceled check, that you have paid the deductible.
If you still have questions, TDI has a hotline that is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. The number is: 800-252-3439. If you need emergency shelter or food or water, contact the Red Cross at 800-733-2767.
A storm blew up my fence. Will my homeowners pay for repairs to my fence? – If your policy provides wind coverage, you probably have some coverage for the fence. Coverage for fences is generally limited to actual cash value. This means that your business will deduct depreciation from what it pays. You will also need to pay your deductible.
My neighbor’s tree fell on my house. Will my neighbor’s home insurance policy pay for damage and tree removal? – Probably not, unless your neighbor is at fault. Your neighbor is not responsible for acts of nature. If your neighbor’s police don’t pay, you can file a claim under your own policy. (Additional Note: Falling trees and branches in your yard (which don’t damage property) are usually not covered. Call your agent or business to find out if your policy will pay.)
A tree fell on my car. Will my auto insurance pay for the damage to my car? – Your auto policy will cover the damage if you have comprehensive coverage. If the tree belonged to your neighbor, their home insurance could pay if your neighbor is at fault in some way. Otherwise, their police probably won’t pay because your neighbor is not responsible for some natural act.
The food in my refrigerator went bad when the power was turned off. Will my home insurance policy pay to replace my food? – Most landlord and tenant policies will pay up to $ 500 or more for rotten food if the power goes out under certain circumstances. Often there is no deductible. Take pictures or keep a list of the food that has gone bad.
I have insurance. Should I ask FEMA for help? – Yes, go ahead and apply. If you have insurance of any kind (homeowners, wind, flood), you should use it first. If there’s something your insurance doesn’t cover, including temporary accommodation, FEMA might be able to help.
Will my owner company send me the claim check directly? – If you have a loan on your home, the company will usually send the check to your mortgage company. You will then have to work with the mortgage company to get the money for the repairs.
TDI provides answers to even more precise questions
Resource links provided by TDI
RELATED CONTENT: Tenants’ rights: what you need to know if you’ve suffered storm damage
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