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Do you have storm damage? Here's what to do, how to avoid scams

Homeowners seeking repairs after storm damage need to stay away from potential scams.
Credit: Twitter user @stefmhamed
Storm damage from Richardson

Editor's note: This story was originally published in 2017.

After a night of severe storms, many North Texas residents are left to deal with the storm's aftermath, which left many homes, vehicles and property damaged.

What to do after the storm?

According to the Texas Department of Insurance, here are some tips to help the insurance claims process run smoothly:

  • Call your insurance agent or company as soon as possible to report damage. Follow up with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas law. If you need financial help, ask your agent for an advance payment.

    If you have a separate wind and hail policy, report claims to TWIA at 1-800-788-8247. If you have a separate flood policy, report claims to NFIP at 1-800-638-6620.

  • Ask your agent about additional living expenses

    Your policy might pay some of your housing and food costs if you have to move while your home is being repaired. Keep all your receipts.

  • Make a list of your damaged property 

    Document by taking pictures and recording video of the damage if possible. Make sure you don't throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has seen them.

  • Protect your home and property from more damage

    Remove standing water. Cover broken windows and holes to keep rain out. Don’t make permanent repairs before a claims adjuster inspects the damage. Have a record of your repairs and save all receipts.

  • Make sure your address is visible. Post a sign with your address and the name of your insurance company in a spot that can be easily seen from the street.

  • Make sure your adjuster and company can contact you. If you have to move, give your insurance company and adjuster your temporary address and phone number.

  • Be there when the adjuster inspects your damage

    You may have your contractor at the inspection or have the contractor review the adjuster’s report before settling the claim. Don’t accept an unfair settlement.

What to do about resolving the claim

  1. Your insurance company must acknowledge your claim within 15 days of receiving it. The company must then accept or reject your claim within 15 business days of getting all the information it needs from you.

  2. If you disagree with the adjuster’s estimate, tell the company why. You might also ask your contractor to talk to the adjuster. If you still disagree with the estimate, you can use the appraisal process or hire a public insurance adjuster.

  3. The appraisal process is available only for disputes about the amount of your claim. You can’t use it to settle disputes about whether the damage is covered by your policy.

  4. Once you and the company agree on a settlement, the company has five business days to mail you a check. Surplus lines carriers have 20 days to pay.

Insurance questions or insurance-related complaint? You can call the TDI Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit our website.

How to avoid scams

Police are alerting the public to stay away from various scams. Here are the most common:

  • The scammer asks for required down payment to get materials and make repairs. Once they receive the money, the scammer leaves with your money and never does the work.
  • This scammer can fabricate damage and pressure paperwork before an insurance adjuster inspects the roof
  • Scammers may put a new roof that isn't up to par with the original roof, neglecting other roof issues. They usually leave and cannot be contacted
  • Be aware of a contractor demanding an immediate signature on a contract. Take your time deciding what repairs to do and who to do business with
  • The scammer gives the owner a bid that is much lower than competitors, and then finds unforeseen issues, costing more money

Storm coverage on WFAA:

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