Has Your Property Been Damaged by Severe Weather?
If your property is damaged by a tornado, a hurricane, hail or another catastrophic weather incident in Texas, what should you know before you file a storm damage insurance claim? And when will you need the advice and services of a Texas storm damage attorney?
Texas property owners need the answers to these questions because storm damage is so common in our state. Hurricanes, tornadoes, hail, and severe winter storms affect almost everyone in Texas, so keep reading for the answers you may need about storm damage claims and your rights.
What Should a Property Owner Know?
If you are a property owner in Texas and your property was damaged by storms or fire, here are the six things you need to know (and do):
- Review your homeowners insurance policy for your deductible amount.
- File your claim quickly (most policies require you to file your claim promptly).
- Try to gather documentation for everything that was damaged (take photos and videos)
- Get repair quotes from contractors.
- Watch out for con artists (fly by night roofers).
- You need to protect and secure your property (don’t let the damages get worse).
#1: Know What Your Homeowners Insurance Policy Provides
When you understand what your homeowners policy covers, how to file a claim, how to document your damages, and what the process entails, you will be in the best possible position to deal with your homeowners insurance company.
For example, you need to know the policy’s coverage limits. It may cover severe weather damage, but you may not have sufficient coverage for all of the damages, or you may not be covered for specific damage such as flooding.
You may need to purchase additional coverage separately. Every homeowners policy and every storm damage claim is different. Reviewing your homeowners policy before severe weather strikes will make filing your claim easier when that time comes.
#2: File Your Claim Promptly After Severe Weather Damage Happens
Property owners who have suffered substantial storm damage to their properties can usually avoid mistakes and delays by taking the right steps from the start. Your homeowners policy may require you to act quickly after severe weather has damaged your property.
It is imperative to file your storm damage claim promptly and protect your property. You also want to make repairs as quickly as possible and before the damage leads to any further deterioration of your property.
#3: Document Your Property Damage Claim
After you have sustained storm damage to your property, it is a good idea to compile a written record of the specific damages. Take photographs and videos of the damage immediately, but don’t start making major repairs until a claims adjuster has made a property damage assessment.
#4: Get Repair Quotes From Contractors
Documenting your damage claim means getting photos, videos, and obtaining repair estimates from contractors. Assuming you have damages, an estimate from an established, professional contractor is less likely to be rejected by most insurance providers.
Get estimates from experts – from roofing companies for roof repairs and from door and window companies for door and window repairs, HVAC technicians, and so forth. Estimates from specialists may carry more weight with your insurance company than an estimate from a “general” repair contractor.
#5: After Severe Weather, Watch Out for Con Artists
After severe storms, con artists inevitably emerge to exploit homeowners. Be suspicious if someone claiming to be a contractor appears at your door uninvited. Verify that anyone you hire to do repair work has a physical business location and a good reputation with former customers. Use local contractors and don’t sign anything they ask you to sign if they are just inspecting your property for damages.
Do your “due diligence” to confirm and verify that a contractor is legitimate, and don’t ignore your intuition and feelings. If you are not comfortable with a contractor, find another contractor to work with and never sign anything.
#6: Mitigate Your Damages
As mentioned previously, you should file your damage claim as quickly as possible, but if the weather that damaged your property affected a large region, scores of other homeowners may be filing claims, and it may take time before the insurance company can assess your damage.
While you’re waiting, you will need to secure your property against additional damage. This may mean tarping a roof, drying out a damp basement, or boarding up windows, for example. Document your damages and then document the steps you have taken to prevent further damage.
What if Your Storm Damage Claim is Denied?
Assuming you have damage, if you have taken all of the measures listed above, your homeowners insurance company will have a harder time rejecting your storm damage claim. But what can you do if your claim is wrongly denied or if the insurance company fails to operate in good faith?
You’ll need to be advised and represented by a Texas storm damage lawyer who has successfully challenged and beat the insurance companies – a lawyer who can obtain the insurance settlement you need. Here are some common reasons why storm damage claims are sometimes rejected by insurance companies:
- You wait too long to file your claim. As mentioned above, you should file a claim with your insurance company promptly after you know or even suspect there is some damage due to severe weather.
- The policyholder failed to pay their premiums. Make sure that your payments are current before you submit a claim for weather damage otherwise you are not insured.
- Your policy has exclusion clauses (stuff they won’t pay for!). For example, some homeowners policies in some parts of Texas will not cover vandalism, pre-existing damage, wind damage or damage due to flooding.
- Finally, some claims are rejected simply because the insurance company is not operating in good faith or they are unfairly categorizing damages as exclusions when they shouldn’ be. If you believe that your homeowners insurance company is operating in bad faith and your claim was wrongly denied, arrange at once to speak to an attorney.
What Will an Attorney Do for You?
A Texas storm damage attorney will offer you the legal advice you need, negotiate with your insurance company for a reasonable settlement, and if necessary, take that company to court to recover what you need to repair your property damage.
Your first legal consultation with a Texas storm damage lawyer is offered without obligation or cost. If you take legal action against the insurance company, you will pay no attorney’s fees until and unless the company pays your claim and the best part is your fees will be paid by the insurance company if we secure a settlement. But how can you choose the right attorney?
Why Should You Choose Flores & Pelaez-Prada?
The legal team at Flores & Pelaez-Prada only does one thing. We are experts at securing insurance settlements for property owners who don’t get a fair shake from their insurance companies. Our team has done it over 12,000 times. Our results and client reviews on Google speak for themselves. We know how to challenge insurance companies, and our attorneys have a record of prevailing for our clients. We advise and represent Texas homeowners whose damage claims are denied after severe weather or natural disasters.
You can learn more – or you can start the legal process now – by calling Flores & Pelaez-Prada at 855-786-7674 and scheduling your free first consultation. If your severe weather damage claim is denied, we are ready to fight aggressively and effectively on your behalf.