Many Texans are just now seeing the damage caused to their property by Hurricane Harvey. The Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) recommends that homeowners and vehicle owners take the time to assess the damage to their property by taking photographs or video and then reporting the claim to your insurance agent or company as soon as possible.
Many insurance companies, including USAA, Allstate, Progressive, among others, and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), have already set up mobile claims centers in the Corpus Christi, Rockport, and Victoria. A complete list of Disaster Assistance Mobile Units can be found here at the TDI website http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/storms/mobileunits.html
Helpful tips in documenting and filing your claim:
· If safe to do so, take steps to minimize any further damage to your home or vehicle by making temporary repairs. Keep receipts for all of your repairs. Don’t make any permanent repairs until after contacting your insurance company and being instructed to do so.
· Take photos or video of your damage to show to your adjuster or if your company requests, to send to your adjuster.
· If the insurance company’s adjuster schedules an inspection, plan to be there to make sure that all of the damage is documented. Consider having your building contractor with you to discuss estimates or potential problems in making needed repairs.
· If your policy included coverage for additional living expenses (ALE), keep your receipts so you can submit to your insurance company.
· Homeowners are urged to avoid using “storm chasing” building contractors who come in offering inexpensive services and immediate repairs. Check and see if your city or county requires contractors to be licensed or registered in your area. If so, make sure the contractors have complied with your local laws.
The Texas Department of Insurance also has information on its Help after Harvey webpage, including information on claim filing and other consumer resources,http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/storms/helpafterharvey.html
Also, unfortunately, this is a time where some will try and take advantage of consumers who have suffered loss due to Harvey. Various roofing and building contractors, water damage recovery vendors, and others will show up and defraud beleaguered homeowners. “We highly recommend that affected homeowners seek building contractors who have been living and working in the immediate area for years and have built a good reputation for their work,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas. “With local building contractors, you will know the quality of their work and where to find them the next day in the event that you have any problems.”
Tens of thousands of cars and trucks have been submerged in floodwaters from Harvey. Over the next few months we may see some of those cars being sold without disclosing the flood damage and offered at bargain prices in Texas and across the nation. In addition, some towing services my try and take advantage of distressed Texans by charging excessive and unnecessary fees to tow your vehicle. Vehicle owners are urged to use caution is using wrecker services to take their vehicles in for repair or salvage. “Please use caution with any documents that a wrecker service may ask you to sign,” said Hanna. “It would be wise for vehicle owners to talk to their insurance agent or company before moving their vehicle for any repairs.”
IMPORTANT PHONE NUMBERS
The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) – 1-800-788-8247
FEMA – 1-800-621- FEMA (3362)
The Texas Department of Insurance Consumer Protection Help Line – 1-800-252-3439
We know these are stressful times for many as they return home to assess the damage and determine what to do next. We urge you to work with your insurance company to get your claim filed and handled as quickly as possible.