Our firm has handled a number homeowners’ insurance claims, and we wanted to provide some tips for our fellow Texans who suffered losses as a result of the storm.
First, document everything. The MOST IMPORTANT thing you can do right now is to document your losses. You may be able to make claims for things ranging from damage to your home or business, damage to furnishings or property in your firm or business, to loss of income your business incurs, to lost groceries if your refrigerator went out. The thing to know is that you may have claims for losses that you don’t even know about right now.
As a result, the key is to document everything. Take photos or video of things that might be even remotely relevant – leaks, damaged property, spoiled food, etc. Also, keep receipts for any purchases that you have to make because of the losses you sustain. Keep copies of all correspondence — including emails, texts, and old-fashioned mail — that you have with your insurance company. There will be time to make your claim, but if you don’t collect the evidence you have now, there may never be an opportunity to recover that evidence and support your claim.
TYPES OF CLAIMS
There will be any number of types of claims that will be made in the coming months. Many Texans will have homeowners’ insurance or renters’ insurance claims for damage to their homes or personal property in their homes. Similarly, many businesses will have property that was damaged due to the storms. Those folks will potentially have claims for their losses as well. Additionally, many business owners have business interruption insurance, which helps pay for compensation and income that businesses lose due to various events.
TYPICAL DISPUTES – What Will You Likely Be Fighting About?
There are generally four major disputes present in insurance claim.
- Coverage disputes. Is the type of loss you sustained covered by your policy? We have to read your policy to look at the terms to give you an opinion about whether your losses are the type of losses covered by the policy. Unfortunately, the Texas Department of Insurance allows many forms of policies so it’s difficult to give black and white answers about what is covered without looking at your specific policy.
- Scope of the repair. Once we decide that the claim is covered, if your home or business property is damaged (the actual structures), then we often have a fight about what the proper repair methods will be. Homeowners or business owners typically want a full, thorough scope of work. Insurance companies typically want to do the least amount of work possible to claim the work is done.
- Cost of the repair or replacement of items. Once we figure out the scope of repair, then there is often a dispute about what it will cost to make those repairs. Again, we often find that insurance companies suggest a cost of repair with so little money that you could never find a reputable construction company to do the work for the offered amount. Similarly, if you personal property (clothes, furniture, equipment, etc.) that is damaged, there are often disputes about what a reasonable cost will be to replace those items.
- Bad faith claims. Fortunately, Texas law provides that insurance companies owe duties to you, their insureds. If the insurance companies violate those duties, then they can also be liable for additional claims for failing to meet their obligations.
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