The financial cost of the winter storm that left dozens dead and millions without power and water could exceed the $125 billion in damage caused by 2017’s Hurricane Harvey.
Lawmakers and insurance analysts haven’t settled on an exact estimate, but all 254 Texas counties have been affected, according to the Texas Tribune. Some residents spent days without basic necessities like clean water, electricity and heat. Those same residents could now face delays and denials in their insurance claims.
With the costs skyrocketing, insurers may be hesitant to pay expensive homeowners and renters insurance claims. Their bottom line is at risk. You should take care to follow the instructions on your claim forms carefully and cooperate with insurance adjusters. Making sure you do your part of the claim promptly and correctly can limit the chance of an unfair delay or denial.
Your insurance tasks after a disaster
When disaster strikes, insurance can be the difference between annoyance and desperation. Make sure you take care of your responsibilities in an insurance claim:
- Call your insurance professional immediately. Be ready with questions about filing the claim, including if there are special rules in place for the disaster. Confirm the deductible you will pay. As how long the claim will take to be paid. Find out if you need to solicit bids for any necessary repairs. Understand the process for reimbursement if you have to move out during the repair process.
- Make temporary repairs, if possible. You have a responsibility to limit the overall damage to the extent you can. If you make repairs, save the receipts, as the expenses may be reimbursable.
- If your home or apartment is uninhabitable, relocate and keep your receipts. Most insurance covers temporary relocation when a residence is too damaged to live in. However, you will need to have records and receipts of all your expenses.
- Fill out your claim forms promptly. Once you have notified your insurer that you have a claim, they must send you any necessary forms within a reasonable period of time. Fill out these forms and return them as soon as you can.
- Prepare an inventory and damage report. Take a detailed video or photo array of the damage and each item that was destroyed. Your insurance adjuster may also do this, but it is in your interest to have your own record of what was damaged and lost. If you have receipts or other evidence of the value of lost and damaged items, copy them for your adjuster.
If you run into trouble, you may wish to contact the Texas Department of Insurance. Or, contact a lawyer about bad faith delays and denials of insurance claims and your rights as a policyholder.