Every year, there’s a risk of a hurricane slamming into Texas, especially from June through November. Even a near-miss can result in devastating wind, rain, and lightning tearing through the landscape. Floods can sweep through streets and destroy homes, leaving a wake of destruction. Lightning can rain down from the clouds, starting fires and causing dangerous electrical surges that destroy expensive electronics. Wind can send objects hurtling through the air, smashing windows and tearing the roofs from homes.
Storm damage is no laughing matter here in Texas. It is very real, and there is a definite chance that you may experience it in your lifetime, especially if you live along the Gulf Coast. How can you protect yourself before storm damage happens, and what do you do afterwards?
Carry the Right Insurance
Step number one is to carry the right insurance. Most lenders require homeowners to carry a homeowner’s insurance policy if you are still paying for your home, but even if you own your property outright, an insurance policy is the best protection you can have. Not having coverage could leave you not only homeless, but financially ruined. Get coverage, and read your policy carefully to make sure that includes the coverage you need, including storm coverage.
Lightning and Storm Damage
Most policies do cover lightning and storm damage, but you may have to fight to make sure you get the correct settlement. A fight beats the alternative, though—being on the hook for what could be thousands of dollars of electrical work, smoke and fire damage repair, and the cost of lost appliances or devices fried by a surge. Think about the cost of replacing these common items:
- Flat-screen televisions
- Computers, monitors, tablets, and smartphones
- Video game systems, DVRs, or streaming devices (such as Apple TV or Roku)
- Kitchen appliances, including refrigerator, dishwasher, electric ovens, and so on
- Wired telephone lines, or other plugged-in telecommunications devices
- Any other electrical device or appliance
It’s important to note that in certain coastal regions, hurricane coverage may cost extra, and flood insurance typically must be purchased separately no matter where you are. Wind and hail may or may be separate coverages, too, so don’t forget to ask. Talk to your insurance agent about your needs to be sure you have not only the right policy with the right coverages, but the right dollar amount of coverage to repair your home or replace lost possessions completely.
Making a Claim
If you’ve suffered storm or lightning damage, it’s important not to delay in making a claim. Waiting means that evidence to back up your claim can become harder to keep track of. Make a list that includes every bit of damage or destruction and every single item that was lost or destroyed, including a dollar amount indicating the value. Back up your dollar amounts with evidence such as receipts, if you can.
If your home has been so severely damaged that it is unlivable until repairs are made, your insurance may even offer payments for living expenses. This means that your hotel bills will be covered until your home is repaired, and may even include a daily allowance for food, since you won’t have access to a kitchen. If you’re in this situation, it’s vital to keep receipts for every expense that you need reimbursement for.
Get Legal Help
Before you get into it with the insurance company, it’s never a bad idea to consult with an attorney who understands property and storm damage and the insurance claims process. An experienced attorney will know all the tricks that insurance companies try to use to prevent from paying out the full worth of your claim, or even paying at all if they think they can get away with it.
Wayne Wright, LLP can help you wrangle an insurance company that’s being difficult or refusing to pay out what you think a claim is rightfully worth. We can give you the confidence to communicate your wishes clearly and effectively with your insurance company, help you maximize your rightful settlement, and if push comes to shove, fight for your right to fair compensation in a court of law. Never forget that you’ve been paying a premium for the service of the insurance company, and if they try to weasel out of the contract you both agreed on, you should never feel bad about holding them accountable. Call Wayne Wright, LLP for a free consultation to talk about your storm damage claim issues at 800-237-3334 today.