The warnings are urgent. Hurricane Harvey has strengthened to a Category 2 storm and could hit land with up to 3 feet of rain, 125 mph winds and 12-foot storm surges. As heavy rain and gusty winds move in over Texas, coastal residents are deciding whether to flee their homes or to stay put and brace for a potentially life-threatening hurricane. Regardless of your decision, there are some things you can do to prepare your home for potential flooding.
Hurricanes of this magnitude not only cause catastrophic flooding but also catastrophic losses for homeowners. Some people have found themselves underinsured, or sometimes with no flood insurance at all. Did you know, flood insurance is not typically part of your home insurance policy? If you are not in a flood zone you can still purchase flood insurance. But even those homeowners with proper levels of flood insurance coverage, find themselves going through the often frustrating experience of filing claims and getting their lives back to normal. Though this process can be slow and confusing, findlaw.com recommends ten important steps when dealing with storm-related damage that can help take away some of the pain. Stay safe, Texas!
1. Contact your insurance agent or company promptly
Keep a record of all contacts you have with your company. Be prepared to answer questions about the extent and severity of the damage.
2. Document your damage
Make a list of items that were damaged by the storm. Take photographs or videotape the damage if possible. Don’t discard any damaged property until your insurance adjuster has had a chance to examine it.
3. Make temporary repairs
To prevent further damage to your home, make reasonable and necessary temporary repairs. Don’t make permanent repairs until your insurance company tells you to do so. Hang on to your receipts and document all expenses.
4. Review your insurance policy
Unfortunately, it’s becoming quite common for tornado insurance coverage to fall short of homeowners’ repair expenses. Find out the type of insurance policy you have and the amount of insurance you purchased.
5. Schedule permanent repairs
Though you should hold off on permanent repairs until your damage is assessed, schedule them as soon as possible, as appointments can fill up quickly.
6. Beware of storm-repair scams
Don’t rely on your insurance company to protect you from tornado-repair scams. Use local, licensed, bonded and insured contractors. Check references, get agreements in writing, and don’t pay in advance.
7. Don’t expect free upgrades
Typically, insurance companies will only replace damaged items and materials of the same type and quality. Trying to replace fiberglass with expensive slate tile for free will only slow down your claims process.
8. Be physically present
Try to be present when the insurance company’s adjuster inspects the damage to your property.
9. Ask about discounts
Find out from your insurance agent if you are eligible for discounts, additional living expenses (ALE), disaster tax deductions, or other forms of financial assistance because of the tornado.
10. Speak with a claims professional
Never let a contractor interpret your insurance policy language. For extra guidance, consult a local insurance attorney who can explain those terms to you in plain English.
If your home is not insured, you may want to contact your local Red Cross or FEMA Disaster Recovery Center for assistance. If you’re shopping for homes in areas where there have been major storms, floods, hurricanes and tornados, always do your diligence with a Housefax Property Report first so you Know Before You Buy and are aware of any potential problems that aren’t immediately visible.