Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Resource Page
An explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform on April 20 off the coast of Louisiana caused an oil spill that is leaking into the Gulf of Mexico. Officials in early June were still attempting to contain the oil spill that has drifted into Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and was nearing Florida. The explosion killed 11 of the 126 platform workers and injured another 17.
Although the oil spill is not currently expected to reach the Texas coast, Texans can prepare for any possible impact by reviewing their insurance coverages and planning ahead.
- Deepwater Horizon Response: Restore the Gulf
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Response to BP Spill in the Gulf of Mexico
- 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. Before buying a policy, consider the potential lost income, operating expenses, and extra expenses you’ll incur while rebuilding your business. Read more about business interruption coverage.
- 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.
- Make a list of your damaged property. Photograph or videotape the damage if possible. Don't throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has had a chance to view them.
- Call your insurance agent or company promptly to report property damage. Keep a record of all contacts you have with your company. Be prepared to answer questions about the extent and severity of the damage. Follow the call immediately with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas’ prompt-payment law. If you need financial assistance, ask your agent for an advance payment
- Make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Do not make permanent repairs before a claims adjuster inspects the damage. Keep a record of your repair expenses and save all receipts.
- Make sure your adjustor and company can contact you. If you have to move, give your insurance company and adjuster your temporary address and phone number.
- Try to be present when the adjuster inspects your damage. You may also have your contractor present at the inspection or have the contractor review the adjuster’s report before settling the claim. Don’t accept an unfair settlement.
- Make sure any public insurance adjuster you hire is licensed by TDI. Public insurance adjusters charge fees to help negotiate claim settlements with insurance companies. If you hire a public adjuster, you may have less money to repair or replace your property. The adjuster must disclose the fee in the written contract with you.
Note: Public adjusters may not give legal advice and may not participate, either directly or indirectly, in the reconstruction or repair of your damaged property. Make sure the public adjuster is licensed by TDI by calling TDI’s Consumer Help Line or using the “Agent Lookup” feature on our website
463-6515 in Austin
- 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. If you suspect price-gouging or any other deceptive business practice, call the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hot Line
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 any additional information needed to settle your claim. Once it has the information, the company must notify you in writing of the acceptance or rejection of your claim within 15 business days or tell you why it needs more time. The claims handling deadlines may be extended for certain weather-related or natural disasters.
Once all differences are settled, the company has five business days to mail you a check. Surplus lines carriers have 20 days to pay. If you do not receive your payment promptly, call your agent. If you have questions about your claim, call TDI.
If you need information, have a complaint, or can’t locate your agent or company, call the toll-free TDI Consumer Help Line
The Consumer Help Line is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Insurance Assistance disaster flier:
The following publications will help you prepare for a disaster and become more knowledgeable about insurance issues:
- Glossary of Common Insurance Terms
- Business Interruption Coverage
- Insurance Fraud
- TDI Working For You
- Shopping Smart
- Helping You With Your Insurance Complaint
- Storm Warnings
- Commercial Property Insurance
- Surplus Lines Insurance
- Automobile Insurance Made Easy
- Homeowners Insurance
Visit the Consumer Publications page for a complete list of TDI publications.
Read about TDI's consumer complaints process in the Helping You With Your Insurance Complaint publication. You may also e-mail, mail, or fax your complaint along with copies of your supporting documents to
Texas Department of Insurance
Consumer Protection Program (MC 111-1A)
P.O. Box 149091
Austin, TX 78714-9091
Insurance Complaint Forms
If TDI recently contacted you to complete the Disclosure of Information Consent and Release Form, the form is available here (PDF).
Insurance Fraud Toll-Free Hotline - 1-888-327-8818
Online Fraud Reporting: Secure Transmission, Fast, Comprehensive, Easy Data Entry
For more information contact:
Last updated: 06/03/2014