Texas Storm Season Brewing
Spring may still be three weeks away, but the calendar hasn’t slowed down the state’s thunderstorm activity. Texas has already seen tornadoes tear up homes in DeKalb in northeast Texas and Desoto just outside Dallas, and multiple hailstorms were reported throughout the state in February.
“Thousands of Texans living along the coast and in southeast Texas are still recovering from Hurricane Harvey and the last thing they want to hear about is severe thunderstorms headed their way,” said Mark Hanna, a spokesperson for the Insurance Council of Texas. “The best way to protect your home and car is verifying that you have insurance coverage in place and the type and amount of coverage you have.”
If you haven’t already done so, this is the time to check your homeowners and auto insurance to make sure you have the right type of coverage and sufficient amount of coverage in place to protect you from loss.
Along with mandatory liability coverage, vehicle owners should have comprehensive coverage in the event of hail, wind or flood damage from a storm. Your liability coverage does not cover you in the event of hail damage. Comprehensive coverage reimburses you for loss due to theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. Comprehensive also covers losses due to fire, windstorm, hail, flood, or if you have a collision with animals, such as a deer. Unfortunately, during last year’s flooding, some Texans learned that their liability policy did not cover flood damage.
Your homeowners’ policy does not cover losses due to flooding. You may be required by your mortgage lender to carry flood coverage, but if you’re not, and live near a flood prone area or experienced flooding in the last couple of years, you should definitely consider buying flood coverage. Flood insurance is offered through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Once purchased, a flood insurance policy takes 30 days to take effect. Ask your agent or insurer about how to obtain flood coverage. For more information on NFIP, go to https://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program
In late August, Hurricane Harvey caused 52 Texas counties to be placed under Flash Flood Warnings. As a result of Harvey, and other recent flooding in the Houston area, many Texans learned that massive flooding can take place well outside designated flood plains and many of those affected did not have flood coverage.
In addition, during storm season, many Texans discover that the amount of insurance coverage they have on their home is insufficient in the event a storm requires them to replace their home. The homeowners were “underinsured” and faced with a shortfall in the amount of funds needed to rebuild or replace a large portion of their home. Talk with your agent or insurer about the amount of coverage needed to make sure you are adequately protected.
If you’re a renter, renters insurance provides coverage for one’s personal property inside their dwelling. Renters need a separate flood insurance policy to protect their belongings from rising floodwaters.
This month, Hanna along with insurance company officials will be traveling to north and west Texas to offer advice to residents on how they can prepare for the coming storm season. Hanna will be providing these storm tips:
- Talk with your agent or company to confirm that your coverage provides the needed protection for your property in the event of a catastrophic storm.
- Conduct an inventory of your personal property with your camera. Whether it is a fire, tornado or flood, your insurance company will need to verify what you lost.
- Know the name of your insurance agency and company, so that you can contact them promptly in the event of a damaging storm.
- Take photos and video of any storm damage and keep receipts of anything needed to prevent further damage to your home until permanent repairs can be made.
- After a loss, make sure you have contacted your agent or insurance company before you start any major repairs.
- Avoid contractors and others who are attempting to take advantage of your loss. This includes building contractors and unlicensed adjusters who enter town after a storm to take advantage of the situation. If the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Work with building contractors who live in the area and have built a good reputation.
Report suspected fraud to your insurer and to the Texas Department of Insurance.