Harvey has been catastrophic and it will be years before we recover. Don’t let your insurance claim turn into another disaster.
Millin & Millin PLLC is offering FREE legal advice to any Harvey victim navigating the claims process. This is not just a one-time consultation. We will be here to help as long as you need us. It’s our way of helping victims of Harvey in the best way we know how.
Here are some basic tips:
IMPORTANT: If you have any doubt about which of your insurance policies will apply, SUBMIT YOUR CLAIM TO YOUR FLOOD INSURANCE CARRIER, YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY AND YOUR WINSTORM CARRIER. Each policy, if applicable, covers different damage.
- FOR HOMEOWNERS and WINDSTORM POLICIES:
Submit your claim IN WRITING as soon as possible (for homeowners, preferably before September 1, 2017 when laws related to claims will change*).
- Emails will suffice.
- Include your name, address, your policy number (if you have it), the date of loss and a short description of the damage. The description can say, “I have water damage from Hurricane Harvey.” Do not guess where the damage came from if you lack expertise. Often times, insurance companies will use these initial statements as a basis to deny coverage.
- FOR FLOOD POLICIES:
If your flood insurance is triggered by your loss, there are very important items to consider:
- Flood insurance is federally funded, and the claims are not handled like typical homeowners claims. Review your residential FEMA policy here: https://www.fema.gov/…/14495…/F122_Dwelling_SFIP_102015.pdf
- You must strictly comply with the requirements set forth in section VII. J of your policy, on page 18. Claims that do not strictly comply may be denied. Of special note is the 60 day deadline to submit a Proof of Loss. The link to the form is here: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1404745070512-4523e347d5c3d5dd8a463ab3c6c9e15f/FEMA_Form_086-0-9.pdf
- Try to obtain your own estimates from reputable contractors to provide to your flood claim adjuster, and cooperate fully with your adjuster as they hold the fate of your claim in their hands.
- Keep a copy of all claim correspondence you submit and receive.
- Take photographs and/or videos of the damage you’ve sustained.
- Make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. In the case of this storm, these repairs may include closing holes in your roof, boarding up broken windows, and removing wet building materials from your property. This is an obligation under each of your policies.
- Do not sign agreements for repairs with strangers approaching your property. Make sure you are hiring reputable contractors. Unfortunately, we have seen a number of cases where inexperienced or dishonest contractors and/or public adjusters take advantage of property owners dealing with catastrophic events.
- We do not advocate filing a lawsuit until you have completed the claims process, and ONLY IF you are not afforded the full coverage you’ve paid for. For flood claims, it may never be advantageous to hire a lawyer, as you will never be entitled to attorney’s fees and, therefore, attorney’s fees would come out of your insurance payment amount.
Attorneys specializing in Insurance cases for over 15 years.
*Effective Friday, Sept. 1, 2017, a new law under House Bill 1774 takes effect that governs Texas insurance claims. This new law affects Texas policyholders who suffer claims involving “forces of nature.” It lessens penalties against homeowners insurance companies that fail to pay valid claims, pay less than amounts owed, or fail to timely pay such claims.