Filing A Storm Damage Claim in Austin
Thunderstorms in central Texas often bring heavy rain, lightning, and large hail; the warm, humid spring and summer months offer favorable conditions for this type of weather. While thunderstorms happen frequently and are often of short duration, they can be unpredictable and dangerous. Wind damage can be extensive and falling hail can be as large as a lemons.
What to do after the Storm
If your home or property has been damaged in a thunderstorm, the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) offers the following tips for getting your losses covered:
- Contact your insurance agent or company promptly. Be prepared to answer questions about the nature and severity of the damage. Keep a detailed record of all conversations you have with your insurance company and maintain a file for any written correspondence.
- If your home is not insured, contact your local Red Cross or FEMA Disaster Recovery Center for help. Disaster assistance is often available to individuals, families, and businesses and can you with critical expenses that cannot be covered other ways. Call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).
- Make a list of your damaged property. Check your policy to determine the amount of coverage you have. Document the damage with a camera or a video camera if you can, and never throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has actually seen them.
- Make the necessary repairs to protect your property from any further damage. If there is damage to your home, make any reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your home and property from any further damage. Take the steps necessary to cover up broken windows or holes in the roof to keep the elements out. Do not make any permanent repairs until the insurance adjuster gives the go ahead. Be sure to keep a record of your repair expenses and save all of your receipts.
- Determine if you have replacement cost or actual cash value coverage. Replacement cost covers the cost to rebuild or repair your home, based on current construction costs. The insurance company will pay you the actual cash value initially and after repairs are completed, they will pay the remaining amount owed on the claim. The same holds true for losses that involve personal property. A claim under an actual cash value policy will be based strictly on the replacement cost minus a deduction for depreciation.
- Ask your agent about additional living expenses (ALE) or loss of use reimbursement. ALE may provide coverage for some expenses if you are unable to live in your home because of damage from a covered event. Be sure to keep your receipts and provide the documentation to your insurance company. Whenever possible, the documentation should include the vendor, date, and amount of the expense. Most policies will pay up to 20 percent of your home's insured value toward your ALE although different insurance policies may have different coverages, limits, and procedures for reimbursement.
- Know what deductible you'll be required to pay. Most homeowner’s policies contain two deductibles: one is for windstorm and hail losses, while the other covers all other losses.
- If you hire a public insurance adjuster, make sure that the public adjuster is licensed by TDI. Public insurance adjusters work independently, charge a fee for their services, and must disclose their fees in writing. To find a public adjuster or to learn whether the one you have selected is licensed, call the TDI or visit their website.