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Storm Warnings

(March 2017)

(En Español)

Be Prepared!

Make an inventory of everything in your house or apartment and update it at least once a year. Take pictures or videos of each room. List serial numbers, values, and the dates you bought each item. If you ever have to file a claim, a detailed inventory will make it easier. It can also help you prove tax-deductible, uninsured losses. Keep your home inventory in a safe place. You can use TDI’s Home Inventory Checklist to get started. For a printed copy, call our Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.

Keep your health insurance cards, auto and home insurance policies, and other important documents in a safe place to protect them from storm damage. Consider emailing electronic documents to yourself so you’ll have them wherever you are.

For more tips and resources on preparing for a disaster, visit texasprepares.org.

Review Your Coverages

Make sure your insurance policies are up to date and provide enough coverage. It’s a good idea to review your coverage every year. Your coverage limits might be too low if replacement costs have risen because of inflation, new purchases, or additions or renovations.

Also make sure you understand the amount of your deductible and how it works. The deductible is the amount of the damage that you’re responsible for paying. Home and auto insurance companies typically subtract your deductible from the amount they owe you for a claim. For example, if you have a claim for $6,000 and your deductible is $500, the insurance company will deduct $500 from your claim check.

For health insurance, know how your health plan handles nonemergency care. Some health plans won’t pay for nonemergency care from out-of-network doctors, or will pay only part of the cost. This could be important if a disaster forces you to leave your network area and you have to go to the doctor.

Ask your agent if you have questions about your coverages or policies.

Have the Right Type of Insurance

The type of insurance you need depends on the type of property you want to insure and where you live. 

Renters insurance

Renters insurance pays to repair or replace personal property – things like your clothes and furniture – if they’re stolen or damaged. It also pays some of your living expenses if you have to move temporarily because your home is damaged.

Flood insurance

Homeowners and renters policies don’t cover damage caused by flooding from rising waters. To protect yourself from most types of flooding, you need to buy separate flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Federal Emergency Management Agency administers NFIP.

Flood policies don’t take effect until 30 days after you buy them, so don’t wait until it’s too late to get coverage. To buy flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. You can also get a list of agents in your area and more information by visiting www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/.

Wind and hail insurance

If you live on or near the Texas coast, your homeowners policy probably doesn’t cover windstorm and hail damage. You’ll need to buy wind and hail coverage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).  Talk to your agent about TWIA coverage. You can also call TWIA at 1-800-788-8247 or visit twia.org. You can’t buy or change your windstorm coverage after a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico.

Other Coverages

  • Comprehensive auto coverage. Comprehensive coverage will pay to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged by hail, wind, fire, or flood. Texas law requires you to have liability coverage but not comprehensive coverage. Check your auto policy to find out whether you have comprehensive coverage.
  • Business interruption coverage. Business interruption coverage pays lost income and some operating expenses if you have to temporarily close your business because of a disaster.
  • Loss of rent. If you own rental property, you may want to add coverage that pays the rent if the property is too damaged for your tenants to live in.
  • Replacement cost coverage. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to rebuild or repair your house. Replacement cost is different from market value and doesn’t include the value of your land. To ensure that you can rebuild your house if it’s destroyed, buy a policy with replacement cost coverage. Also consider replacement cost coverage on your personal property.
  • Loss of use. Loss of use pays some of your living expenses if you have to temporarily move because of damage to your house.
  • Coverage of jewelry, artwork, and electronics. Most policies provide only limited coverage for these items. You can usually buy more coverage if you need it.
  • Coverage for other structures. Your homeowners policy typically covers structures on your property that aren’t attached to your house, but the coverage might be limited. You can usually buy more coverage if you need it.

Protect Your Property

If you have time before the storm hits, use these tips to protect your house and property:
  • If you have to leave your home, lock all the windows and doors.
  • Cover windows and sliding glass doors with storm shutters or plywood panels. Use heavy-duty masking tape on small windows.
  • Move valuables away from windows and, if possible, to an upper floor.
  • Unplug appliances, electronic equipment, and TVs.
  • Move cars, boats, and trailers to garages or warehouses, or tie down boats and trailers next to house.
  • Check tie-downs if you live in a mobile home.
  • Brace garage doors, drain swimming pools halfway, move loose items indoors, and secure television antennas.
  • Trim any dead wood from trees. This will help prevent damage from falling limbs.
  • Clear debris away from your house. Remove dead or dry wood and plants.

After the Storm

Follow these tips to help the insurance claims process run smoothly:
  • Call your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to report damage. Follow up with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas law. If you need financial help, ask your agent for an advance payment. If you have a separate wind and hail policy, report claims to TWIA at 1-800-788-8247. If you have a separate flood policy, report claims to NFIP at 1-800-638-6620.
  • Ask your agent about additional living expenses. Your policy might pay some of your housing and food costs if you have to move while your home is being repaired. Keep all your receipts.
  • Make a list of your damaged property. Take pictures and video of the damage if possible. Don’t throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has seen them.
  • Make temporary repairs to protect your home and property from more damage. Remove standing water. Cover broken windows and holes to keep rain out. Don’t make permanent repairs before a claims adjuster inspects the damage. Keep a record of your repairs and save all receipts.
  • Make sure your address is visible. Post a sign with your address and the name of your insurance company in a spot that can be easily seen from the street.
  • Make sure your adjuster 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 there when the adjuster inspects your damage. You may have your contractor at the inspection or have the contractor review the adjuster’s report before settling the claim. Don’t accept an unfair settlement.

Adjusters and Contractors

Public insurance adjusters charge fees to help negotiate claim settlements with insurance companies. The adjuster must put all the fees in a written contract with you. Be aware that, if you hire a public adjuster, you might have less money to repair your property because the public adjuster’s fee is deducted from your settlement.

Public adjusters may not do any repair or construction work on your property. Public adjusters must have a license from TDI. To learn if a public adjuster is licensed, call TDI’s Consumer Help Line or use the Agent Lookup feature on our website.

Work only with reputable contractors. Before you choose a contractor, ask for references and verify them. Check with your local Better Business Bureau or chamber of commerce to see whether they have any complaints or information about the contractors you’re considering.

If you suspect price gouging or any other deceptive business practice, call the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hot Line at 1-800-337-3928.

Resolving Your Claim

Your insurance company must acknowledge your claim within 15 days of receiving it. The company may ask you for more information to investigate your claim. The company must then accept or reject your claim within 15 business days of getting all the information it needs from you. If the company rejects your claim, it must tell you why in writing. The deadline may be longer after large disasters.

If you disagree with the adjuster’s estimate, tell the company why. You might also ask your contractor to talk to the adjuster. If you still disagree with the estimate, you can use the appraisal process or hire a public insurance adjuster.

The appraisal process is available only for disputes about the amount of your claim. You can’t use it to settle disputes about whether the damage is covered by your policy.

Once you and the company agree on a settlement, the company has five business days to mail you a check. Surplus lines carriers have 20 days to pay. If you don’t get your payment promptly, call your agent. If you have questions about your claim, call TDI’s Consumer Help Line.

Note: TWIA policies issued or renewed after September 27, 2011, don’t have the same claims deadlines as other homeowners policies. If you have a TWIA policy, read your policy or talk to your agent to understand the claims process.

If you need information about the TWIA claims and appeals process or have a complaint, call the Coastal Outreach and Assistance Services Team (COAST) at 1-855-352-6278 or visit www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/coast.html.

Get Help from TDI

For insurance questions or for help with an insurance-related complaint, call the TDI Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit our website.

You can also visit HelpInsure.com to help you shop for automobile, homeowners, condo, and renters insurance, and TexasHealthOptions.com to learn more about health care coverage and your options.

The information in this publication is current as of the revision date. Changes in laws and agency administrative rules made after the revision date may affect the content. View current information on our website. TDI distributes this publication for educational purposes only. This publication is not an endorsement by TDI of any service, product, or company.



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Last updated: 03/14/2017

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