In the aftermath of a natural disaster, the last thing victims and those displaced want to think about is a claim against their insurance company and we would never recommend that you risk your safety to document an insurance claim. However, a new law will go into effect on Friday, September 1, 2017 that will greatly impact those affected by hurricanes and natural disasters.
First, the law DOES NOT APPLY to claims under policies of insurance issued by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Administration (TWIA - Windstorm) or Federal Emergency Act (FEMA - Flood). With that said, many policy holders in Southeast Texas have private homeowner policies (State Farm, Allstate, Farmers, etc) that may cover losses from this disaster. The law also applies to business claims for property damage, lost inventory and business interruption which are typically not written by TWIA.
If you have suffered a loss to your home or business because of Hurricane Harvey as described above, you need to act quickly due to action taken by the state legislature this year. Earlier in 2017, the state legislature and Governor Abbott passed and signed into law House Bill 1774 that limits your rights under your insurance policy for the benefit of the insurance companies. The law changes how legal actions for weather related insurance claims are handled and a policy holder’s ability to hold their Insurance Company accountable for covered losses.
This law comes into effect Friday, September 1st. If you have property damage covered by an insurance policy you need to do the following:
- Send WRITTEN notice to your insurance company (copied to your agent) that specifically references your claim.
- Whether by mail or email, make sure it is dated BEFORE September 1, 2017.
- The claim should include the name of the insured, the address of the property, the nature of the loss such as wind, water or fire damage and a description to the best of your ability of the magnitude of your loss. If safe, include photos of the damage.
- Keep a copy of the notice you send to the insurance company with proof of the date sent.
- While we recommend filing a written claim, we are aware of many policy holders attempting to make their claim via phone. Again, any such communication needs to be made directly with your insurance company (not your insurance agent) AND demand that you be given a Confirmation Number for your claim.
If this is not done by the end of August 31, 2017, you will be giving up important rights you have today. Provost Umphrey is here to answer any questions regarding the Hurricane Bill at 409-203-5030.
TWIA Claims Center
FEMA Flood Claims Process