FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 15, 2021
CONTACT: Albert Betts, Executive Director, 512.326.7600
Over the last few days, many coastal areas have experienced high winds and flooding from Tropical Storm Nicholas. The quickly developing storm strengthened to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall and has since been downgraded to a tropical storm. As of Tuesday, September 14, the storm continued to drop several inches of rain in Texas as it moves into Louisiana. Damage reports are coming in and so far we’ve seen extensive flooding, hundreds of thousands without power, and some wind damage with wind gusts approaching 70 miles per hour.
If your property, business, or auto has been impacted by the storm, the Insurance Council of Texas (ICT) urges you to contact your agent and insurance companies as soon as possible. If you had to evacuate your area, once you’re able to safely return to your property, policyholders should inspect their property and document any damage by taking pictures and video. Residents are urged to make temporary repairs, if possible, to prevent any further damage to their property.
Depending upon the type of property that was damaged, you may have different insurance policies involved. If you suffered flood damage to your home, you need to have flood insurance which is usually provided through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Comprehensive coverage on your auto policy protects your car from flood damage. For wind or other damages, check with your homeowners or business insurer.
After the storm
- Assess your damages carefully and call your agent or insurance company
- Take photos and/or video of the damages
- If possible, make any temporary repairs that will prevent further damage – and keep your receipts for your insurer
Once repairs begin, residents are warned to watch out for dishonest contractors and other repairmen who may be going door to door soliciting repair work and putting you at risk of shoddy work or fraud. ICT recommends that residents seek the assistance of local building contractors who live and work in the area or ask for referrals from friends and others you trust.
Unfortunately, fraud is prevalent after severe weather events. We urge all affected by Nicholas to take steps to protect yourself against becoming a victim of fraud. Be wary of solicitors offering quick fixes, too-good-to-be-true prices, and illegal promises to take care of your deductible. In addition, contractors who offer to waive your deductible are violating the law and could get up to a $2,000 fine and up to six months in jail. If a contractor offers to waive a deductible, report it to the Office of the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-621-0508.
Here are some tips to help you avoid fraud:
- Ask for detailed estimates on company letterhead with clear contact information.
- Check online references to gauge customer experiences and to verify the information on the estimates.
- Beware of those who only have out-of-town phone numbers, references or who solicit door to door.
- Pay only a small deposit and make incremental payments until the job is done to your satisfaction.
- Don’t sign your insurance claims payment over to the contractor.
Our Hurricane Media Kit has tv-ready graphics on flood insurance, hurricane preparedness tips and more, plus informational sheets on windstorm insurance and TWIA. ICT maintains several resource pages for Texas residents and insurance consumers, including a Hurricane Central page with tips and information on how to prepare and recover from tropical storms and hurricanes, as well as a Texas Floods page, with information and resources about the risks of flooding in the state.
For more information about what to do after a storm, or other insurance-related topics, contact Albert Betts, Executive Director, Insurance Council of Texas.