Insurers offer tips for Texans hit with storm damage

With damaging storms across North Texas and blizzard conditions in West Texas over the weekend, insurance companies are sure to have a busy end of the year in the area.

The Insurance Council of Texas and USAA have offered the following tips for any homeowners whose property suffered damage over the weekend.

First, some helpful basic tips from USAA:

• Make temporary repairs to protect your property from further repair such as boarding up windows.

• Wait to make permanent repairs until a claims adjuster has assessed the damage.

• Save receipts for temporary repairs and any relocation expenses that you incur.

• Prepare for the adjuster's visit by having as much information as possible about your damages, including description, date of purchase, and what it would cost to replace or repair.

• Keep an eye out for fraudulent contractors – beware of contractors who ask for a large amount of money up front and contractors whose bids are very low.

And here are some more comprehensive tips for policyholders from the Insurance Council of Texas:

Assess your Damage: Carefully check your vehicles and home for damage. If you think you have damage, contact your insurance agent or company as quickly as possible. Take photographs or videotape the damage for your records. Make temporary repairs that are necessary to prevent any further damage to your home or property and keep receipts for reimbursement.

Repairing the Damage: Prepare a list of personal property that was damaged or destroyed. Do not make any permanent repairs until an adjuster arrives. An adjuster will work with your list of records and assess the damage in reaching a total dollar figure for compensation.

Total Destruction: Contact your agent or company representative immediately to discuss possible reimbursement of temporary living expenses. Before leaving your damaged home, make sure your address is visible and that your agent, family, neighbors and company representatives know where you can be reached.

Time Frame: Once an insurance company has received your claim, the company has 15 days to notify you that they have either accepted or rejected your claim. Insurance companies may be granted additional time by the Texas Department of Insurance to notify you because of an abundance of weather-related claims.

Claim Dispute: Most homeowners insurance policies allow for an appraisal process to settle claim disputes. Carefully read your policy or inquire with your agent on how the process works. Once all differences have been settled, the insurance company has five business days to mail you a check.

Settlement: The goal of every insurance company is to put the disrupted life of their policyholders back together. In any catastrophe, insurance companies do their best to fairly and accurately assess damage and bring relief to their policyholders as quickly as possible.


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