TXINS September E-News: Hurricane Claims Misinformation



 

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, there has been a huge amount of misinformation circulating on social media about the impact of HB 1774 (the hailstorm bill) as it relates to the catastrophic events so many Texans living along the Gulf Coast have recently experienced. Below is a good explanation of accurate information. We hope these facts reassure you during these trying times:

HB 1774 does not change the insurance claims process. A person making a claim with their insurance company after September 1, 2017 will go through the same process as a person making a claim before September 1, 2017.

The new law applies only to a lawsuit that is filed against an insurance company by a policyholder when the policyholder’s insurance claim is not timely paid or is underpaid, or when the insurance company acts in bad faith in dealing with the policyholder’s claim.

Lawsuits are the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of Texans will go through the regular insurance claims process without needing to file a lawsuit.

Texans continue to have the strongest consumer protections in the nation against insurance companies. This includes the full recovery of amounts owed under an insurance policy, plus penalty interest, court costs, and attorney fees. Additionally, if the insurance company acts fraudulently or in bad faith, Texans may recover triple the amount of their actual damages, which is unchanged by the new statute.

The primary purpose of the new statute is to require written notice of a dispute before a lawsuit is filed. If a lawsuit is filed, it would happen months or years after the initial claim was made with the insurance company. Nothing in the new law passed by the Legislature earlier this year requires that the initial insurance claim be made in writing or by a specific date.

  • This requirement for a written pre-suit notice (not pre-claim notice) to the insurance company ensures the company is aware of its policyholder’s complaint and has had an opportunity to adequately address that complaint before being sued.

Furthermore, the new law will not apply to most claims or lawsuits arising from Harvey, because most of the policyholders’ claims will be for damage caused by flooding. These claims will be made under the federal flood insurance program and governed by federal law.

Similarly, the new law will not apply to lawsuits pursued against the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), which is subject to an entirely different statute governing post-disaster lawsuits. TWIA provides insurance for many people affected by Harvey.

The new law is designed to do two important things:

1.   Discourage the feeding frenzy by lawyers and contractors following natural events occurring in Texas over the past several years. These unscrupulous actors have taken advantage of thousands of hard-working Texans over the past several years.

2.   Encourage out-of-state insurance adjusters to come work in Texas following a massive disaster like Harvey. In the following days and weeks, it will be critically important for out-of-state adjusters to work in Texas to ensure that insurance claims are evaluated and paid in a timely manner.

In summary, the new law does not affect the claims process. Instead, it affects only the lawsuits that sometimes follow the claims process. Furthermore, it does not create a new deadline for action by policyholders.

We Are Here for You 

Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc. is your trusted advocate. As an independent insurance agency, TXINS represents a wide network of A-rated insurance companies, which allows us to find the best insurance policy to fit your needs and budget. We don’t believe in cookie cutter policies and will customize a plan specifically for you. Your overall satisfaction is our top priority. That’s a promise.

TXINS offers complimentary insurance reviews to ensure you are getting the right coverage for yourself, your family, or your business. To schedule your review, contact us today at 800-541-9849 or via email. Together, we will ensure you are protecting what matters most.

The employees of TXINS are active members in our communities. Here’s a quick list of what we have planned for the month.

  • The agency will be closed on Monday, September 4 for Labor Day.
  • The El Campo Lions Club is hosting a Hamburger Supper Fundraiser from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 31 at Alamo Park. Tickets are $8.00.
  • Happy September birthday to Marissa Sosa and Jeff Copeland! We hope you enjoy your special day!
  • Happy September work anniversary to the following TXINS staffer: Janet Corson-6 years. We are so proud to have you as a member on the TXINS team!
  • Congrats to our August Texas Trivia winners Melanie Wendel and Grant Stoesser!

Several of the TXINS team attended the Texas Nursery & Landscaping Expo in Dallas from August 10-12. During their stay, a few team members enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Republic Insurance Group, one of the top-rated insurance carriers that partners with TXINS. From left to right: Jo Ann Hernandez (TXINS Commercial Lines Dept. Manager), Kat Peebles (RIG Farm and Ranch Underwriting Manager), Whitney LeBrun (RIG Farm and Ranch Underwriter), Mrs. Sorrel, Mr. Sorrel, and Russell Taylor (TXINS Agent).

Don’t forget to “Like” your local TXINS branch’s Facebook page to keep up with what’s going on with each office. If you’re please with the service you’ve received from TXINS, leave a review and share your good experience with others.

TXINS El Campo
TXNS Needville
TXINS Georgetown

Dear TXINS:

My home sustained significant flood damage from Harvey. What do I do now?  – Ryan D., Richmond, TX

Dear Ryan:

First of all, we hope you and your family are safe. Our hearts go out to you and to everyone effected by the devastating rainfall and flooding Texas has seen over the past week. It will be important to document the loss and file a claim with TXINS and the NFIP, depending on your coverage. Here are some things to consider:

Flood insurance covers both the building and contents inside, but it doesn’t cover the land the dwelling it is located on. Dwelling coverage will cover property up to $250,000 and contents coverage insures up to $100,000 of personal property. Flood insurance is not a valued policy and does not pay more than the policy limit for any losses.

Building coverage includes:

  • The building and its foundation
  • The electrical and plumbing systems
  • Major systems like central air conditioning equipment, furnaces and the hot water heater
  • Some appliances such as refrigerators, cooking stoves and built-in appliances like dishwashers
  • Permanently installed carpeting over an unfinished floor (e.g., wood, cement).
  • Window blinds
  • Permanently installed paneling, wallboard, bookcases and cabinets
  • A detached garage (up to 10% of building property coverage)

Coverage for contents includes:

  • Clothing, furniture and electronic equipment
  • Curtains
  • Portable and window air conditioners
  • Portable appliances such as microwaves and dishwashers
  • Carpeting that is not covered under the building coverage
  • Clothes washers and dryers
  • Food freezers and the food in them
  • Certain valuable items such as original artwork and furs (up to $2,500)


There are a number of damages and expenses a flood insurance policy will not cover. These include:

  • Currency, precious metals and valuable papers like stock certificates
  • Damage caused by moisture, mildew, or mold that could have been prevented by the homeowner or renter
  • Property and items outside of the dwelling such as trees, plants, wells, septic systems, walkways, decks, patios, fences, hot tubs, seawalls, and swimming pools
  • Financial losses due to business interruption or loss of use of the insured property
  • Most self-propelled vehicles — e.g., cars, motorcycles, four-wheelers, etc.
  • Damage from sewer backups

You should file a claim as quickly as possible. Since there has been an official Presidential Disaster Declaration, you may be eligible for assistance from other sources such as FEMA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, or even some state or private organizations.

If you register for disaster assistance you may be eligible for help with temporary housing, funding for home repairs, and help with home replacement or permanent housing construction.

Make sure you have your policy number, and a phone number or email address where you can be reached regarding the claim. Once you have filed your claim, keep careful notes about who you spoke to, when and what was discussed in case any questions arise later on in the process.

A thorough record of what was lost or damaged will be one of the most important aspects of your insurance claim. Once allowed back into your home or business, take photographs of all damaged property — both personal contents and structural damage, standing floodwater, or visible flood levels on walls or furniture.

Create a list of items that were lost or damaged, including when they were purchased and the price paid. Online vendors may be able to provide receipts for items purchased in the last few months. If you have photos of items before the storm, include those with the claim. too. Document any items that are discarded, need to be disposed of, or placed outside of the home or office. Use caution when taking photos, since parts of the structure may be loose and items may have shifted during the flooding.

Keep copies of all contractors’ estimates, any experts’ reports or other documentation related to the cost of the claim. If your claim is denied or there are questions about coverage, having a record of what was lost or the cost to repair the damage will be helpful in appealing the decision.
Take photos of large ticket replacement items that are purchased such as televisions or appliances, as well as the receipts as proof of purchase for the claim. The more documentation you have, the easier it will be to substantiate the claim.

Before hiring any contractors, ensure they have solid references and are insured in case there are any errors or injuries while they are on your property. Reputable contractors will not request full payment up front before any work is completed. If the company asks you how much your insurance claim check was for, consider it a red flag. A reputable company will not ask this question and will provide you a quote based on the scope of the project, not on how much money you are getting from your insurance company.

Filing a claim takes time and is a process. Many insurers may be able to provide some assistance for immediate living expenses when the claim is initially filed. Make sure to track all expenses related to your insurance claim — housing expenses, meals, replacement items, medications, clothing, etc. If you have questions, ask your TXINS agent or customer service rep.

Do you have a question for our agents? Email it to us! If we choose your question, we’ll send you a thank you gift! Be sure to include your mailing address and phone number in your email.

 

Congrats to Flora Smith of Kendleton, TX, our August Referral Program winner! Thanks for your referrals, Flora!

If you love Texas Insurance & Financial Services, Inc., tell a relative, friend, or co-worker about us. When they call to receive a quote make sure they let us know that you referred them.

As a thank you, you’ll receive a surprise gift and will be entered into our monthly gift card drawing and our annual Grand Prize drawing for a $1,000 gift card!!!

(Grand Prize drawing will be held on December 7, 2017.)

Harvey Relief Efforts

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s destruction across much of the Gulf Coast, so many of our fellow Texans are hurting right now. They’ve lost their cars, their homes, and their sense of security. We’ve watched the news reports and seen the photos of massive floods overtaking neighborhoods, homes and businesses destroyed by high winds, people forced to evacuate with nothing but the clothes on their back, and people crowding into shelters because they no longer have a place to call home. 

But Texas is strong and Texans take care of each other. We at TXINS are organizing our own disaster relief efforts and will be posting more information on our social media feeds as details become available. In the meantime, below are few links to local organizations where you can donate funds, should you feel so moved. If you aren’t able to donate financially, please consider volunteering your time and resources by lending a hand and sharing a smile. The skies may have cleared, but the effects of Harvey will be felt for a very long time.

If you or a family member have been effected by Harvey, our thoughts and prayers go out to you. Give us a call and let us know how we can help. Stay strong, Texas. We are with you.
If none of the charities listed here inspire you, we encourage you to find one that does. Every dollar will help the people of our great state recover.

Show Your Spirit, Texas!

TXINS is proud to be a Trusted Choice® agency. We are dedicated to you and are committed to treating you as a person, not a policy. This commitment means we will:

  • Work with you to identify the insurance that is right for you, your family or your business, and use our access to multiple companies to deliver those products.
  • Guide you through the claims process for a prompt and fair resolution of your claim.
  • Help solve problems related to your coverage or account.
  • Thoroughly explain the coverage and options available to you.
  • Return your phone calls and emails promptly and respond to your requests in a timely manner.
  • Use our experience and company relationships to customize coverage specific to your unique needs.
  • Treat you with respect and courtesy.
  • Conduct our business in an ethical manner.

This is our promise to you. For more information on Trusted Choice, click here.

From our customers…

“The staff in the Needville office is great! Our rep always keeps 10 steps ahead of us!” –Banker Crop Insurance, Pleager, TX

 

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