For Houstonians affected by Hurricane Harvey, the priority is and has been safety first and to worry about the loss of property later. Unfortunately a new law passed by the Texas Legislature has created an urgency for Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey to make insurance claims sooner than expected. If you suffered damage from Hurricane Harvey you must act before September 1st.
Texas has traditionally had strong consumer protection laws to insure that insurers are fair to their policy holders. House Bill 1774 will strip away some of protections. Under the current law, any delay by the Insurer in paying a claim, can result in the insurance company having to pay 18 percent interest on the amount the insurance company was supposed to have paid. For claims filed on or after September 1, 2017, the interest rate for unpaid claims decreases from the 18 percent down to 10 percent. This may lead to less motivation for the insurance adjuster to pay you on your claim, and if you ultimately have to bring the case to trial, it will lead to less money in your pocket.
That is why it is imperative that you file the claim before September 1, 2017. Obviously you may not know the extent of the damage at this point in time, but it is best that you file your claim immediately to ensure you have the best chance of receiving a fair payout from your insurance claim on your Hurricane Harvey settlement. Below are some steps to take to make the process easier on you and your family.
Immediately notify your insurance company of any losses. You don't want to be at the end of the list. It is recommended that you make the claim in writing if you can. Or you can simply fill out the attached form here, and send this to your insurer.
Make sure you get a claim number from your insurance company after you give notice.
Photos of the damage may not be enough. Don't throw away your waterlogged carpets, mattresses and appliances just yet. At least, not until you have spoken to your insurance company. Store them in the drive way or the garage.
Make a list of all of your damaged property. FEMA has an inventory list that is available online. https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1404409110266-d93226fb52d05ff0dcb9eb036719cd3e/FEMA_Form_086-0-6.pdf
Please note that this article was written solely to provide information to the general public, and should not be considered legal advice. Every individual situation is different and it is important that you consult with an attorney about any problems you may having with your insurer. The Bayley Law Firm is available for free consultations regarding problems with your insurance coverage as well as your other legal needs, however we are not the only attorney's capable of doing so. Whether it's our firm or another Houston law firm, consult with an attorney before making any legal decision.