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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2018 Vol. 65 No. 5

HURRICANE SEASON APPROACHING-CHECK YOUR INSURANCE, WATCH FOR SCAMS

After Hurricane Harvey, Texans might not need a reminder about how much damage a hurricane can do. Still, National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 6-12) is a good time to review your insurance coverage.

The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) encourages Texans to review homeowner or commercial property policies carefully. Make sure they provide enough coverage to replace or repair your property after a disaster.

Insurance advice

(Image courtesy of Schatzman & Hovanyecz, PA)

It's important to remember that home policies don't cover flood damage. You'll need a separate flood policy for that.

"There were more than 2.5 million residential policies in force in counties affected by Harvey, but only about half a million flood policies," said Insurance Commissioner Kent Sullivan. "I encourage Texans to remember that if it can rain, it can flood. At a minimum, talk to your agent about flood insurance, even if your mortgage doesn't require it."

If you live in a coastal county, your policy might not cover windstorm and hail damage. If that's the case, you'll need to buy it from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). To get TWIA coverage, you must pass an inspection and meet specific building standards. For more information, call (512) 899-4900 or visit TWIA. (More about windstorm inspections.)

TDI also recommends watching out for scam artists in the aftermath of a hurricane or flood. To protect yourself:

  • Call your insurance company first to see what repairs should cost.
  • Use local companies, and don't forget to check references and contact phone numbers.
  • Always get written estimates, which should be on company letterhead with clear contact information.
  • Get more than one bid. It will help you see if an offer is too good to be true.
  • Watch out for contractors who say they can waive deductibles—you may be responsible if they send incorrect information to your insurance company.
  • Don't pay the whole cost up front. You might have to make a partial payment to get started, but you should never make a final payment until the job is complete.
  • Texas law does not allow adjusters to take part in the repair process. For example, roofers can't say they will handle your insurance claim.
  • If a contractor pressures or threatens you, call the police.

For more help with insurance questions, visit Texas Department of Insurance or call 1-800-252-3439.

Theresa Rubio was one of almost 100 Texas Department of Insurance employees who staffed disaster recovery centers after Hurricane Harvey to help people with insurance questions.

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