Hurricane storms bring powerful winds and heavy rainfall that can cause floods and other forms of extensive damage.
In the event of a hurricane where you experience flooding to your property, it is important that you take photos and videos of the damage to your property before it is cleaned up. Also, keep samples of the damaged equipment to make it easier to access. After gathering all necessary documents, submit a written notice of loss to your private insurance company or NFIP, if it is flood damage. You will then be required to complete and submit a Proof of Loss Form (Form 086-0-9) within 60 days. The 60 days following the incident is the deadline for filing a claim. Also, make sure that you have all the necessary documents so that the claim will not be denied. You should also review your hurricane coverages and limitations to ensure that the incurred damages are covered under your policies.
A hurricane-related windstorm can reach up to 156 miles per hour, and this powerful force from the winds can blow away shingles and other materials from your home or commercial building. It can also cause limbs and other debris to break off and land on the building. If you experience this, you must file a claim with the TWIA or your private insurance provider. To prevent further damage, make sure that your home undergoes temporary repairs. These include ensuring that the windows are boarded up and that the interior leaks are stopped. If your insurance policy covers the damage, you can keep track of the costs associated with temporary repairs. Avoid disposing of damaged property or making permanent repairs without approval from your private insurance provider or the TWIA.
If you purchased your windstorm insurance from a private insurance company, ensure you file the claim within the time limit stated in the policy. Also, ensure that you provide the necessary documentation of the damage to the insurer to enable them to process your claim. Generally, you should report covered damages to your insurer and file a claim within one year of the occurrence of an insured covered peril.
Consult with a licensed insurance agent to help you file your claim with your insurer. If you need help finding an insurance agent or carrier to help process your storm insurance claim, contact the NFIP at (877) 336-2627 (for flood damages) or the TWIA at (800) 788-8247 (for windstorm damages).
After you file a claim with your insurance provider, they will process it and commence the necessary investigation, before the coverage pays.
If you filed a claim for hurricane-related flood damage with the NFIP, your home would be inspected by a certified NFIP registered insurance adjuster. The adjuster will take photos and measurements of the damage. They will help you understand what your insurance policy covers, and you will also be provided with an estimate of the damage caused by a hurricane.
If you filed a claim for hurricane-related windstorm damage with the TWIA or your private insurer, they would assess your property to determine its extent. You will need to provide your insurer with all the necessary information to help them evaluate this claim properly. If you cannot live in your home due to the damage caused by the windstorm, you may need to seek refuge somewhere else pending the settlement of the claim. As such, you will need to submit receipts for additional living expenses (ALE) to help cover the additional costs related to the damage caused by the hurricane. However, you must have purchased ALE with your policy. You must also provide proof of your deductible payment. This will help the insurance company determine the amount they need to pay for the repairs and replacement costs.
After all necessary investigations have been carried out, you will receive a report from your insurer detailing your claim. Ensure you peruse the claim properly to ensure your insurer is not acting in bad faith. Also, ensure you check if the right mortgage company is listed on your policy if your house is under a mortgage to ensure that the mortgage company is included in the payment process.
When filing a claim with your insurance provider, consult with a licensed insurance agent for proper guidance.
After filing a claim, your insurance company will conduct all necessary investigations through an adjuster. Once the claim and facts are verified, your insurer will pay you a check to cover the damage caused by the hurricane.
Your insurer is obligated to pay your claim filed for hurricane damages. However, if the flood or wind damage does not meet your insurer’s specific requirements, they can deny the claim. If the insurance company denies your claim in bad faith, you should speak to your state-licensed P&C insurance agent for advice regarding how to get your actual claim from the insurance provider. Your agent can help you file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance.
You can also file a civil legal action against the insurance company at the appropriate Texas Court. It is advisable to seek proper legal advice regarding your available legal options by speaking to a lawyer. You can use the find a lawyer platform or the lawyer referral & information service maintained by the Texas Bar Association.
If your flood or windstorm insurance provider discovers that a claim does not meet the conditions set out in its policy declaration, it may deny the claim. However, some companies may also act in bad faith and intentionally deny the claims for no valid reason. If you believe that an insurance company has acted in bad faith, contact the Texas Department of Insurance's Consumer Protection Division at (800) 252-3439.
An insurance company can deny paying out your claim for the following reasons:
If the insured has outstanding premiums, the insurer might not be able to provide the necessary coverage.
If the claim is for a type of loss, that is not covered under the policies. For instance, earthquake damage to the home.
If the policyholder fails to notify the insurance company within the window allowed under the policy, the company might deny the claim.
If an insurance company discovers that the insured has engaged in fraudulent activity, it might not pay the claim. for instance, if the insured misrepresents facts regarding the repairs already carried out on the property.
Nonetheless, your insurer must provide you with valid reasons and proof as to why your claim is being denied. You can also contact a licensed agent to discuss your options.
For hurricane-related flood damage, you must file a written “Notice of Loss” to the NFIP or your private insurer within a day or two after a loss. You may contact your insurance agent to file it for you. After filing your hurricane insurance claim, you will be required to fill out, sign, and submit a Proof of Loss form within 60 days. Similarly, windstorm insurance claims must be reported within one year of the occurrence and can be filed online, through a certified agent, or by contacting TWIA at (800) 788-8247. If you purchased your coverages from a private insurance company, you should inform your insurer within 24 hours of the event. Typically, you can file a claim with a private insurer through an online platform, via mail, or by visiting the insurer’s physical location.
Per state law, an insurance company has a maximum of 15 days from the day a claim was filed to investigate the claim. The insurance company must approve or deny a claim within 15 days of receiving it. However, the company may extend the 15 days to 45 days if it requires more time for further investigation, but it will need to provide a reason for the extension. Insurance companies are generally required to provide information to support the approval or denial of claims. Meanwhile, the TWIA, after receiving all the necessary information from the policyholder, has 60 days to investigate and determine whether the claim will be accepted or rejected. After accepting a claim, an insurance company has ten days to pay the claim.
Per Section 542.056 of the Texas Statutes, insurance companies must acknowledge receipt of a claim and request additional documents within 15 days. After collecting these documents, the company must investigate the matter and make a claim payment or deny the claim within 30 days.
However, the insurer has the right to extend the 15 days to 45 days with sufficient reasons for such extension if:
The hurricane damage is too complex to evaluate to get a correct estimate.
The hurricane claim is complex, which may take the insurer some time to reach a just decision.
When an insurer decides to pay a claim, it must notify the insured within a certain period. The insurer has five regular business days to pay the insured the claim.
You would not need to file a claim with your insurance provider if the damage caused to your property was not a direct cause of a hurricane disaster. If your hurricane insurance policy has a high deductible, you do not need to file a claim if the total cost for the damage caused by a hurricane is lower than or equal to your deductible.