Miya Shay: Absolutely show those amazing video while we talk to legal expert, lawyer Steve Mostyn who has handled a lot of flood claims over the years. Steve, I want to bring you in here. We are all sort of casual because we have been working in flood waters the last couple of days. Tell us, two things. First tell us about — we have seen a lot of Facebook postings about this law that goes into effect tomorrow. What does that mean? That’s not flood insurance. It is for other claims.
Steve: The law will go into effect technically Friday at 12:01. You have until tomorrow. It is called HB1774 and it involves homeowners claims. What that means is that if you have rising water, that’s a flood claim. That’s generally governed by the flood insurance program. This is if you have a leak from the roof, a leak around the window, if you have a tree that hit your fence or home, those are homeowners policies and that is governed by the new law. People should file their claim by 12:00 tomorrow in order to take advantage of some larger damage assessments that are done to the insurance company if they delay in paying your claim timely.
Miya Shay: So they can still file a homeowners insurance claim any time? It’s just after the deadline tomorrow, the law changes so you get less benefits, I guess, if the insurance company does not pay you out in what you believe is proper.
Steve: Yeah. For example, right now the law has an 18% penalty for a delay in payment. That is to give the insurance companies an incentive to pay and hold on to after 12:01, September 1st at 12:01 under the law. That is how they would judge it. After September 1st or by September 1st, that penalty is cut in half. So the insurance companies don’t quite have the incentive. There are other provisions of the law that will take effect. There is not much that you can do about it.
Miya Shay: Just to clarify, people don’t have to hire an attorney. They should just file your claim.
Steve: Do not hire an attorney right now. You do not need an attorney to file a claim.
Miya Shay: The attorneys who say hire me right now to fix —
Steve: There is no cause of action right now. There is no lawsuit. File your claim in writing. That is by e-mail. Go online to your insurance company. You can, you know, do a fax. But it should be in writing and file a claim that will protect them on getting the additional penalties and interest.
Miya Shay: As for the folks who have flood damage like the folks in Meyerland and Bellaire and Kingwood and all of the video that we have been seeing, what should they do? There is no law that goes into effect when it comes to flood insurance.
Steve: Right. There’s no new law going into effect. Those folks will need to file a sworn proof of loss within 60 days with a detailed estimate. Normally FEMA extends that deadline. We did in Sandy up in New York. If you think you have both, flood and rising water, flood will cover up to where the water line is. And then if you have roof leaks, that is your homeowners policy. If it is your homeowners, best advice, file it tomorrow if you can. If you can’t, it won’t prevent you from bringing a claim. It’s just that what is available to you for compensation will be different.
Miya Shay: Okay. Thank you very much. Steve Mostyn a local attorney. You don’t need to hire an attorney. You just need to file your claims if you have those concerns. Clarifying some of that for us. No doubt so many people impacted. This is certainly not the first time legal insurance questions will come up for tens of thousands of people. Now back to you.
News Anchor: Miya, it seems impossible that everybody will be able to file in time when we’re in the midst of a crisis. is there any indication there might be an extension or perhaps — perhaps people will be able to amend it?
Miya Shay: Well, the law is the law. What Steve has told us is when it comes to homeowners insurance, you can still file it, it doesn’t matter. It is that the benefits will be different. As far as flood insurance, you have 60 days. But you have asked the government to extend the 60 days for flood insurance people.
Steve: Yeah. The problem on the flood insurance programs under normal circumstances they want a detailed estimate in that’s impossible in a disaster zone. We went ahead and asked FEMA which we did in the Austin floods which they granted to extend it by a year. They have done that before in other catastrophes.
Miya Shay: Hopefully they will do this this time as well.