Thunderstorms, Wind, and Hail Storm Resource Page
Texas' warm and humid spring and summer months are favorable for thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are considered an underrated threat because they occur approximately 100,000 times each year and are relatively short, at an average of 30 minutes. Although common and brief, the lightning that accompanies these storms is unpredictable and dangerous. Texans should be prepared for thunderstorms, lightning, and hail, especially during the warm and humid summers when conditions are favorable for development.
Current Conditions, Information, and Resources
- Frequently Asked Disaster Assistance Questions ( Spanish version)
- Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost Coverage in Homeowners Insurance
- Shopping for Homeowners Insurance Company/Policy Comparison Worksheet ( PDF)
- TexasPrepares.org (emergency plans and checklists, evacuation route information, and tips on building a disaster kit)
- Surviving Disasters: How Texans Prepare (video series)
- Mobile Apps (to prepare for a disaster and monitor conditions)
Before the Storm
- Keep an inventory. Fill out TDI's Home Inventory Checklist (PDF) that you can print or save to a disk and keep somewhere secure. Consider e-mailing it to yourself to ensure you'll have it wherever you are. Also take photos or videotape of each room and the exterior of your home to keep with your inventory.
- Gather important documents and insurance cards and policies. Unless they are stored in a safe place, take health insurance cards; auto and home insurance policies; and an inventory of your possessions, including receipts and photos or videos.
- Know what your policy covers. Make certain your homeowners or commercial property coverage is still in force and that it provides adequate coverage to pay the full replacement cost of your property. Check your auto policy to see if you have comprehensive coverage "other than collision." Comprehensive coverage pays if a storm, fire, or flood damages your car. Find out how much coverage you have for "additional living expenses" to cover lodging, food, and other expenses if you're forced to vacate your residence after suffering a covered loss.
- Know your policy limits. Contact your agent and check the limits of your policies. For homeowners policies, ask about limits for contents and buildings. Your limits may be too low if replacement costs have risen because of new additions, improvements, or inflation.
- Review your health coverage. Find out if you'll be able to receive non-emergency care from out-of-network providers, if needed, without accruing additional out-of-pocket costs.
- Consider renters insurance if you don't have it. A landlord's insurance policy usually covers the house or building, but not the personal property of the building's tenants. If you rent an apartment, duplex, house, or townhouse, you may need renters insurance to protect your belongings.
- Consider business interruption coverage. Business interruption coverage compensates you for lost income and certain operating expenses if you are forced to vacate your business because of a loss covered in your policy.
- Consider alternative storing methods for company files. Important documents can be scanned and stored in a safe location. Also consider taking photos of office equipment and furniture.
- Consider purchasing flood and wind and hail coverage. You may have to buy separate policies through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) to cover wind, hail, and flood damage. Homeowners, farm and ranch, renters, windstorm, and condominium policies do not cover damage from rising waters. Use the "One-Step Flood Risk Profile" feature on the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) website to determine your relative flood risk. Use the Homeowners, Flood, and Windstorm Policies Comparison chart to see the differences between homeowners, flood, and wind and hail insurance.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
Homeowners and commercial property policies specifically exclude coverage for damage from flooding from rising waters. To protect yourself from losses caused by most flooding, you'll need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period after the purchase date before coverage takes effect, so if you do not have a policy, you should obtain one as soon as possible. For more information about flood insurance, call the NFIP at 1-888-FLOOD 29 (356-6329) or visit its website at www.floodsmart.gov.
- NFIP Summary of Coverage ( PDF)
- Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 (including rate increases for some policyholders)
Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)
If your property is located in one of Texas' 14 coastal counties, or parts of southeastern Harris County, you will likely only be able to obtain insurance coverage for windstorm or hail damage from a special insurance pool called the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA.) To qualify for TWIA coverage, your property must pass a windstorm inspection and must meet certain windstorm-resistant building standards. You cannot buy or change TWIA coverage once a hurricane has entered the Gulf of Mexico. For more information about windstorm coverage, call TWIA at 1-800-788-8247
or visit its website at www.twia.org.
- List of insurance companies writing residential property insurance along the Gulf Coast
- List of companies writing commercial property insurance along the Gulf Coast
Visit TDI's Coastal Outreach and Assistance Services Team (COAST) page for more information about the TWIA claims process.
Flood insurance requirement. Certain Gulf Coast residents may be required to purchase flood insurance on their property before they are eligible for a TWIA policy. To view flood maps, visit FEMA's website at www.fema.gov.
The requirement applies to you if:
- you constructed, altered, remodeled, or enlarged your property (to the extent that a certificate of compliance is required) on or after September 1, 2009;
- any part of the property is located in flood zones V, VE, or V1-V30 as defined by NFIP; and
- flood coverage is available from the NFIP.
Note: Property repairs are excluded from the requirement. Repair is defined as the reconstruction or restoration of a structure that is damaged or deteriorated.
Windstorm insurance inspections. New structures, alterations, additions, or repairs to existing structures, including re-roofs or roof repairs must be inspected by a TDI inspector or an engineer who has been appointed by the Commissioner of Insurance. There is no fee for any inspection conducted by TDI. All inspections must be made during the construction phase. For questions or to find out if your home was previously inspected, contact your agent or TDI's Windstorm Inspection Division at 1-800-248-6032.
Protect your property. If a thunderstorm warning is issued, and you have time, take appropriate precautions:
- Buy emergency repair items. These include masking tape, lumber, plastic sheeting, sandbags and sand. Keep all receipts for insurance or tax purposes.
- Protect large windows with storm shutters or plywood panels; use tape on small windows.
- Move valuables away from windows and, if possible, to an upper floor.
- Brace garage doors, move loose items indoors and secure television antennas.
- Trim back any dead wood from trees. This will reduce the amount of wind stress on trees and eliminate potential damage from falling limbs.
- Move cars, boats, and trailers to garages or warehouses or tie down boats and trailers next to house.
- Check and strengthen mooring lines of boats still in water.
- Check your tie-downs if you live in a mobile home.
- Prepare to be without electricity. Stock up on canned goods and bottled water, check supplies of medicines and first-aid equipment, and check batteries in radios and flashlights.
- Keep emergency phone numbers handy.
- Check for weather bulletins. When a storm watch is issued for your area - an alert that a storm has not yet hit, but conditions are likely in the days or hours ahead - regularly check TV and radio for official bulletins.
- Remember the 30/30 lightning safety rule. Go indoors if you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder immediately after seeing lightning. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
- Know the danger signs of an approaching storm. Signs include dark and often greenish sky, large hail, large, dark and low-lying cloud, and a loud roar, similar to a freight train. If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.
- Bring pets indoors. Pets often become distressed during storms and tend to run away in panic.
- Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile. Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside. Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires don't provide protection from lightning.
- Avoid showering or bathing. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
- Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
- Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
- Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated trees in an open area, hilltops, open fields, beaches, sheds or other small structures, and anything metal.
- If you're in the open, prepare for a strike. If you feel your hair stand on end -- which means lightning is about to strike -- squat to the ground on the balls of your feet, place your hands over your ears and your head between your knees, and make yourself the smallest target possible while minimizing your contact to the ground. Do not lie on the ground.
After the Storm
- If you are returning home being gone, enter your home with caution. Turn on your flashlight before you enter your home to avoid sparks that could cause a fire or explosion if there's a gas leak. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
- Do not enter your home if you smell gas or your home was damaged by fire and authorities have not said it's safe to enter. Continue listening to the radio for emergency updates and news reports.
- Be cautious of your surroundings outdoors. Watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
- Be wary of refrigerator contents. Electricity may be restored but it might have been off long enough to ruin the contents of your refrigerator or freezer
- Contact your insurance agent or company promptly. Keep a record of all contacts you have with your company. Be prepared to answer questions about the extent and severity of the damage.
- If your home is not insured, contact your local Red Cross or FEMA Disaster Recovery Center for assistance. Disaster assistance is money or direct assistance to individuals, families, and businesses. It is meant to help you with critical expenses that cannot be covered in other ways. Call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
- Make a list of your damaged property. Photograph or videotape the damage if possible. Refer to your policy to determine the amount of personal property coverage you have. Don't throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has had a chance to view them.
- Make necessary repairs to protect your home and property from further damage. If there is partial damage to your home, take reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your home and property from further damage. Cover broken windows and holes to keep rain out. Don't make permanent repairs until instructed by your insurance company. Keep a record of your repair expenses and save all receipts.
- Know if you have replacement cost or actual cash value coverage. Replacement cost is what you would pay to rebuild or repair your home, based on current construction costs. Actual cash value is based on the replacement cost of the dwelling minus a deduction for depreciation. With replacement cost coverage, the company will pay you the actual cash value initially and after repairs are complete, will pay the remaining amount owed on the claim. If you have replacement cost coverage for personal property when your loss occurs, your loss will be paid on an actual cash value basis until the property is repaired or replaced.
- Ask your agent about additional living expenses (ALE) or loss of use. ALE may provide coverage for some of the expenses you incur if you are unable to live in your home because of damage from a covered peril. Most policies pay up to 20 percent of you home's insured value. Provide your insurance company with documentation regarding your expenses. Keep your receipts. When possible, the documentation should include the vendor, date, and amount. Remember that different insurance policies may have different coverages, limits, and procedures for reimbursement.
- Refer to your policy to know what deductible you'll be required to pay. Most homeowners policies contain two deductibles: one for windstorm and hail losses, and one for all other losses.
- If you hire a public insurance adjuster, make sure the public adjuster is licensed by TDI. Public insurance adjusters work independently and charge a fee for their services. Public insurance adjusters must disclose their fees in the written contract with you. To learn whether a public insurance adjuster is licensed, call TDI.
- Try to be present when the insurance company's adjuster inspects your damage. Be sure your address is visible. If damage forces you to move, leave a note or a plywood sign with your temporary address, phone number and name of your insurance company.
- Resolving your claim. Your insurance company must acknowledge that it has begun an investigation within 15 days of receiving your claim. The company may request additional information to settle your claim. Once it has that information, the company must accept or reject your claim within 15 business days or tell you why it needs more time. If the Commissioner of Insurance designates the event as a major catastrophe, the claim handling deadlines are extended for an additional 15 days. Once a settlement is reached, the company has five business days to mail you a check. If you do not receive your payment promptly, call your agent.
- Work with reputable contractors. Ask contractors for references and verify them. Contact your Better Business Bureau, local police, or chamber of commerce for information. Insist on an itemized contract in writing and pay only as work is completed. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits price gouging once the governor has declared an area a disaster area. Call the Office of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hot Line, 1-800-337-3928, if you suspect price gouging or any other deceptive business practice.
For more information contact:
Last updated: 09/06/2014