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Central Texas Fires: Making Insurance Claims

I’ve handled a number of homeowner’s insurance claims.   With the horriffic fires of the last two days, I wanted to at least make a post and provide a little information for those victims who are faced with making fire insurance claims.  Fortunately, the potential claims you’re facing are not quite as complicated as most homeowners’ insurance claims.

Most homeowners’ insurance claims will have two parts — real property claim and a contents/personal property claim.

The real property claim is for the damage to your actual structure —- the dwelling or home.  Generally, when you’re making a claim there are fights with the insurance company about the extent of repairs necessary from the event and the cost of those repairs.  Fortunately for you, most fire victims are able to avoid this fight.  Section 862.053 of the Texas Insurance Code provides that when there is a total loss by fire, then the full amount of the policy limits are due.  In most cases where there is extensive damage, there isn’t an argument about whether the home is a total loss, and thus, the insurance company is required to pay the full amount; there isn’t any quibbling about scope of repair, costs to make those repairs, etc.  The insurance company should just pay the full amount to you.

The personal property/contents claim is the claim for your furnishings and possessions.  That includes furniture, clothing, household items, etc.  Sadly, most people are underinsured when it comes to contents — they just don’t really have a good estimate about the value of the items in their houses.  As a result, when fires completely destroy a home, most homeowners will be owed the full amount of coverage provided by their policy.  You may have to jump through some hoops to get it — making an inventory of what you lost, estimating costs, etc.  But in most situations, you will not have any difficulty identifying enough losses to justify full payment.

To all the victims, good luck in going forward.  You are certainly in our thoughts and prayers as you try to rebuild your lives.

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