Hurricane Laura Heading Your Way?

Hurricane Satellite Photo
August 25, 2020

Hurricane Laura Heading Your Way?

Here’s what you need to know.

For years we’ve represented thousands of people, families, and businesses in the greater Houston area and across the United States on property damage claims against their insurance companies following major catastrophic storms.  We are here to help you weather this storm too.  

Here are our top tips on what you can do to protect your property and yourself before Hurricane Laura makes landfall.

  1. Stay informed.  
    • Monitor any approaching storms at National Hurricane Center.  Follow the advice from authorities in your area.  You may be in a mandatory evacuation zone or you may choose to evacuate to avoid power and water outages and dealing with the aftermath of the storm. Either way, stay informed, and make your decision early. Don’t wait until it is too late and bad weather is already here.  
  2. Prepare Your Home 
    • Remove damaged trees and limbs.
    • Secure lose rain gutters, downspouts, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
    • Check all surge protectors or unplug sensitive electronics.
    • Close storm shutters.
    • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting so food will last longer if there’s a power outage.
    • Bring any outdoor furniture indoors. 
  3. Plan the Basics
    • Know your evacuation route.
    • Fill up your car with gas.
    • Purchase extra gas if you have a generator.
    • Make a disaster supply kit including a flashlight, batteries, cash, first aid supplies, medications, a battery operated or hand-crank radio.
    • Gather critical documents like identification, health insurance cards, car insurance cards, passports, wills, insurance policies, and any important contact information.
    • Stock up on supplies like water, non-perishable food, pet food, and medications.  You never know how long you could be without power or access to a store.  Be sure to get enough essentials to last you and your family several days.
    • Charge your portable electronic devices, including phones, laptop computers, and digital cameras.
  4. Take photos.
    • Take photos or video of the interior and exterior of your home to document the pre-storm condition of your home. Whether you are evacuating or not, take 10-15 minutes and take photos of the interior and exterior of your home.  This just takes a few minutes, but could prove to be very valuable evidence after a storm when submitting an insurance claim. 
    • Be sure to snap a photo or each room and around the exterior of your home.  We recommend taking video too.   If you have damage due to the storm, be sure to document all damage with photos and video as soon as it is safe to enter the property.  
  5. Make Sure You’re Covered
    • Review your current home and business insurance policies to ensure that you have adequate windstorm coverage as well as flood insurance.
    • Most standard homeowners insurance policies do NOT cover property damage caused by a flood.   With all of the flooding throughout the U.S. in recent years, it is a good idea to carry flood insurance.
    • If your home or property is damaged and you need to make an insurance claim, make sure you educate yourself on the process and your rights under your insurance policies.
    • For Hurricane claims, click here: Tips to Manage the Insurance Claim Process
    • For Flood claims, click here: Flood Insurance Claim Do’s and Dont’s
  6. What to do During the Storm
    • Remain inside at all times, even if the storm seems calm. Storm conditions can change or worsen quickly.
    • Shut all interior doors and stay away from windows and glass doors.
    • Seek shelter in an interior hallway, bathroom, or closet on the lowest level of your house or under something sturdy, like a well-constructed table.
  7. What to do After the Storm
    • Listen to local officials for updates and instructions.
    • Check in with family and friends by texting or using social media, like Facebook’s new disaster safety, check in site.
    • Stay away from debris and downed power lines.
    • Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. If you must, grab some tall rain boots or waders. Flood waters are often contaminated.
    • Photograph all damage to your property to document any insurance claim.
    • File a claim with your insurance company for damages caused by the storm.
    • For Hurricane damage claims, click here: Tips to Manage the Insurance Claim Process
    • For Flood damage claims, click here: My Home Flooded. Now What?
  8. Know Your Resources

HURRICANE HANNA DAMAGE? NOW WHAT?

July 28, 2020

HURRICANE HANNA DAMAGE? NOW WHAT?

HOW TO HANDLE A WINDSTORM INSURANCE CLAIM

As many Texas residents assess the damage caused by Hurricane Hanna that made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast over the weekend, they will need to familiarize themselves with the homeowner’s or business owner’s insurance claim process. This process can be confusing and failure to follow proper procedures can result in your claim being denied or underpaid.

Unfortunately, insurance companies and their adjusters are not in the business of paying out claims. Generally, insurance company adjusters are trained to resolve claims for the smallest amount possible or deny the claims outright if they can find an exclusion under the policy.  If you or someone you know was affected, be sure to review the following steps before contacting your insurance company to file a claim.

Read and review your entire homeowner’s insurance policy including any endorsements and amendments.

Do not agree to be recorded over the phone. Do not agree to provide a recorded or sworn statement over the phone. Ask to provide one in person or in writing. Consider consulting with an attorney first. PUBLIC ADJUSTERS ARE NOT ATTORNEYS.

Communicate in writing if you can. Try to make sure most of your communication is in writing. If you have a phone conversation follow it up with an email or a fax.

Create a detailed list and notes of everything lost or damaged. Create a list of all damaged property including any personal items. Please make sure to include the brand name, model, and as accurate of a description as possible of all claimed items. Include everything no matter how small.

Document all damages. Don’t only photograph the damage, but also make sure every photograph is either time stamped or logged with the date and time it was taken.

Witnesses are important. Create a list of each person who witnessed the losses and can testify to how the losses occurred. This includes the names of any contractors or other employees who performed repairs.

Keep a log of contact with your insurance company. Take down the first and last name of every person you speak to from your insurance company, the date you spoke to them, and what you spoke to them about.

Gather your past records. If possible gather records any previous repairs or inspections of your home. This will make it more difficult for the insurance company to claim the damage was preexisting or unrelated.

As attorneys representing home and business owners, we have seen the damage, devastation, and disruptions that hurricanes and storms can cause. We have represented thousands of clients against insurance companies that have tried to avoid and delay payment for legitimate losses our clients have incurred.Do you have property damage related to Hurricane Hannah? We focus on representing the policyholder and making sure you are treated fairly. Contact us today to discuss your claim or if you have any questions. Please use our Free Case Evaluation Form below or call us at 800-400-4000

Tips to Manage the Insurance Claims Process

Tips to Manage the Insurance Claims Process

t’s not always exactly clear what the next step is after a hurricane, windstorm or flood damages a property. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the murky waters of the insurance claims process.

  • Report the claim ASAP. The sooner you report a claim, the more accurately you can tie it to a specific cause and begin what can be a lengthy process to obtain your settlement.
  • Document Everything. Always keep detailed records of all conversations and interactions you have with your insurer, including the names of each representative you speak with and the general context of every conversation.
  • Be Specific. Provide detailed documentation of all damage, such as photographs or videos, and proof of any temporary measures taken to prevent further damage to your property, like receipts. This can help ensure you obtain a fair investigation. Also, do not discard damaged items or prematurely make repairs to your property, unless absolutely necessary, before your insurance company has conducted its evaluation.
  • Get a second opinion. If you feel as though your insurance company’s estimate does not fairly represent the amount or extent of your property’s damages, ask local and trusted contractors to provide their budgets for the repairs.
  • Obtain legal counsel. If you believe your insurance company is failing to honor the terms of your coverage or poorly handling your claim, seek legal counsel.
As attorneys representing home and business owners, we have seen the damage, devastation, and disruptions that hurricanes and storms can cause. We have represented thousands of clients against insurance companies that have tried to avoid and delay payment for legitimate losses our clients have incurred.
Do you have property damage related to Hurricane Harvey? We focus on representing the policyholder and making sure you are treated fairly. Contact us today to discuss your claim or if you have any questions. Please use our Free Case Evaluation Form below or call us at 713-714-0000.

New Texas Law HB1774 What does that mean? Steve Mostyn Interview with Miya Shay from ABC Houston

New Texas Law HB1774 What does that mean?

Steve Mostyn Interview with Miya Shay from ABC Houston

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.