The short answer is Yes, if your home has been damaged by Hurricane Harvey and you are ready to file your storm damage claim on or before August 31, 2017, you should if at all possible.
However, there is some misinformation running around on the internet about Texas homeowner’s claims. It is true that Gov. Abbott & the Texas Legislature changed the law this past spring and made it harder for a homeowner to recover on a storm claim. This new law takes effect on Sept. 1, 2017.
Basically, the legislature took away a homeowner’s leverage with this new law, making it even easier for an insurance company to delay and deny valid claims.
- For CLAIMS filed on or after 9/1- less interest owed to a homeowner when an insurance company delays and denies valid payments (from 18% to down to 10%).
If at all possible, make your homeowner’s insurance claim for damage done by Hurricane Harvey or the Houston Flood in writing by Friday, 9/1/17. Make sure the date you make your claim is prominently displayed on your written notice to your insurance company and keep a copy for your records. By doing this, you may benefit if your insurance company commits unfair practices in handling or settling your claim. If you make a claim before September 1st, your insurer may ultimately pay a higher interest rate on your claim if it is found to have violated certain provisions of the insurance code.
To further complicate matters, most people and even businesses in coastal counties are insured by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, also known as TWIA. Special laws passed in 2011 make it harder to make a claim and get the money you are owed by TWIA. The windstorm damage done to homes and businesses along the coast by Hurricane Harvey will be governed by those laws. Click here for information on making a TWIA claim.
If your house flooded, but your home didn’t experience any wind-driven rain or other wind-related damage, your claim will most likely be governed by the National Flood Insurance Program. This program has strict proof requirements, and any lawsuits must be filed in federal court. These claims are not affected by the new laws passed by the Texas Legislature. The steps to file a flood claim are found here.
Importantly, if your home flooded, but there is also water coming into your home from above (like a leak in the roof) or through a window, it’s likely windstorm damage. In that instance, you should file a claim with your private insurer under your homeowner’s policy in addition to filing a flood claim under your NFIP flood policy.
Finally, the federal government has issued a disaster proclamation. Therefore, limited non-insurance related assistance will be available. Go here for more information.
Bottom line: New laws do take effect on September 1, 2017. Try to file your claim before midnight on August 31, 2017