Ramji Law's Insurance Claims Attorneys Helping Houston Recover
As people start to add up the damage that Hurricane Harvey caused, it looks like Harvey may be one of the most expensive storms ever. Insurance claims for Hurricane Harvey could be higher than the $1.5 billion that Hurricane Ike caused in 2008. If your home, business, or car was damaged by the hurricane, you should contact your insurance company or companies. It’s not too late. Rumors have been circulating that the deadline has already passed for filing insurance claims for Hurricane Harvey damages, but these rumors are false.
The rumors started because a new Texas law that affects insurance claims, Texas House Bill 1774, went into effect on September 1. That law, however, does not affect most Texans who are filing for flood damages. Most flood insurance is from FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, which is not regulated by state law. For those filing other types of damage claims, the law might affect you if you later file a lawsuit, but it does not change how you file a claim or when you should file.
Senator Hancock, a sponsor of the new law, said that people shouldn’t rush to file their claims. In particular, if you evacuated, you shouldn’t return to your home until you are told it is safe. On the other hand, you shouldn’t wait too long to file either. You will need to file a statement called a Proof of Loss within 60 days from the time your house was flooded.
Steps on how to file insurance claims after Hurricane Harvey:
1. Gather together copies of your insurance policies. If you had to evacuate, and you didn’t have a chance to take your insurance information with you, call the Texas Department of Insurance at 800-252-3439. They have a help line set up to assist you in finding contact information for your insurance agents.
2. Call your insurance agents or insurance companies. If you have separate policies with different insurance companies for homeowners’, flood, and wind storm insurance, it’s important that you contact all of the companies.
3. Record notes about all the calls you make. It’s always a good idea to have documentation of your contacts regarding insurance claims. You may need to refer to it later or use it as evidence.
4. Follow up your phone calls with written notice to the insurance company or companies. You can send that by email, postal mail, or fax.
5. If you are unable to make phone calls or access the internet because of storm damage to service providers, you may be able to file your claim in person. Insurance companies are sending representatives into areas affected by the hurricane to help people face-to-face. Some insurance companies are also sending representatives to shelters.
6. You should hear back from an insurance adjustor within a few days after you contact the insurance company. If you don’t hear back, call the insurance company again. If you have more than one insurance company, follow-up, if necessary, with all of them.
7. Gather evidence of the damage to your home. Your adjuster will need the evidence to process your claim. If you evacuated, don’t return to your home until it is safe to do so. Once you do return, or if you never left, sort out damaged and undamaged items. Take photographs of damaged objects and of any structural damage in your home. Also take photographs that will document the flood water level.
Make a written list of items that were damaged or lost. When you can, include purchase dates, value of the items, and any receipts you may have.
8. Work with your adjustor to prepare a Proof of Loss statement, which is a sworn statement of the amount you are claiming. File this with your insurance company within 60 days of the flood.
9. If your insurance company denies part or all of your claim, you have several options. These include trying to resolve the situation by talking to your adjustor or insurance company, filing an appeal with FEMA, filing a lawsuit, or getting an appraisal.
10. For more information about how to file a flood claim, FEMA has several useful resources available on its site, including a claims handbook, fact sheet, written explanation of the steps to follow, and an infographic available in a variety of languages.
Dealing with insurance companies for an insurance claim after Hurricane Harvey can be a lengthy and challenging process. For some claims legal assistance is necessary when dealing with insurance companies who won’t comply with an insurers legal rights. Ramji Law Group’s attorneys are here to help with any Hurricane Harvey insurance claims that require legal assistance, please call (713) 888-8888 for more information.
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