The worst of the storm has cleared Central Texas, but many Texans are waking up to extensive damage to their homes, vehicles, and businesses.
Don’t know where to begin? We’ve got some tips to help you get started.
Immediately After the Storm
First, make sure the storm has truly passed before going outside. Check for updates on a weather radio, or phone / TV if available.
If your home has not been damaged, keep yourself, children and pets inside, away from any damage or debris outside.
If you suspect any damage to your home, shut off electrical power, natural gas and propane tanks to avoid fire, electrocution or explosions.
If your home is without power, use battery-powered flashlights and lanterns rather than candles to prevent accidental fires
Keep away from downed power lines and report them to your utility company.
Watch for snakes or other animals that have been forced into your home by rising waters or flooding.
Leave immediately if you smell fumes or gas, and notify emergency personnel.
Assess The Damage to Your Home / Property
Go through your home and take notes on any damage to the home/property itself and your belongings.
Take pictures and videos if you can, and try to find owner’s manuals, serial numbers, credit card statements or receipts for items that have been damaged or lost.
Make a copy of your home inventory for your adjuster.
If you go outside, wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeves and gloves whenever you handle, walk around or near debris.
Be prepared to provide your insurance company with as much information as possible about the damage. Do NOT throw away or discard any damaged items until your insurance adjuster has seen them.
Contact your Insurance Agent right away
Each insurer has its own set of rules on how to file a claim, and they work on a first-come-first-served basis, so you need to get the process started quickly. Your agent will be your advocate throughout the process.
Check your policy and confirm your coverage for different types of damage. If your vehicle was damaged, check your auto insurance coverage too.
Find out the time limit on filing claims and notify your insurance agent in writing of the damage as soon as possible.
Do you have separate flood insurance? Your homeowners insurance does not provide flood insurance for water damage caused by flooding (it may cover other types of water damage, such as damage due to wind-driven rain). If you have separate flood insurance through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, contact your agent to file a claim.
Make basic repairs to prevent further damage.
Water is a major cause of damage after storms; the longer your home is exposed to water the more damage you will have to your roof, ceiling, walls and floors as well as your personal belongings.
Take steps to dry out your home by opening doors and windows to let air circulate.
Make some basic repairs right away to prevent further damage, but do NOT make any permanent or major repairs until you meet with an insurance adjuster. He or she needs to see the damage before any repairs are made.
Take pictures before you make any temporary repairs.
Clean up broken glass and remove debris; board up broken windows and doors; Move wet items to drier ground; Cover any roof damage with tarps or plywood; Clean up any dangerous spills immediately, including medicines, bleaches, chemicals, gasoline or other flammable liquids.
Keep receipts for any materials you purchase for temporary repairs (tarps, boards, etc.).
Don’t throw away any damaged items until an adjuster visits your home. Place damaged items in a safe, secure area where they can be inspected later
What To Ask Your Insurance Agent
Does my claim exceed my deductible? Make sure you know the amount of your deductible. In many coastal areas, deductibles may range from 1 to 5 percent of your home’s value.
Will I need to obtain estimates for repairs or replacements? Before an estimate can be reimbursed, some companies may require an estimate to be approved first.
How much insurance is enough? Check if your policy pays replacement cost or actual cash value for a covered loss. If you have increased the value of your property, be sure to increase the protection for your property.
Does my policy provide reimbursement for additional living expenses when a property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage? If you must evacuate the area, notify your insurance company and verify your insurance policy for coverage for temporary lodging. This provision helps pay for living expenses, restaurant food, overnight parking, and laundry services.
What To Expect From Your Insurance Company
Once you have made a claim, the company will send you the necessary claim forms. Properly fill the forms out to avoid delays.
Your company will send out an adjuster to inspect your home. Make a list of structural damage to your home that you would like to show the adjuster.
Once you and your insurance company agree on the terms of your settlement, state laws require that your payment is sent promptly.
Damage to trees, shrubs and other plants during a hurricane or windstorm are not covered under a standard homeowners policy. However, insurance may pay to remove the debris from a fallen tree if it caused damage to a structure covered by insurance.
Have questions about your policy or coverage?
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