Hurricane Harvey’s destruction has left many Houston residents reeling with questions and misinformation. The experienced hurricane claims attorneys at Williams Hart are actively helping fellow members of our Houston community who have been affected by the recent disaster. We’re here to answer your questions and consult you on how to rebuild your life in the aftermath of Harvey. A common question we have heard since the hurricane hit is whether or not a claim can still be filed as it is now the middle of September. The answer is yes, although there are a few parameters you should be aware of before preparing to file your claim.
In May, Governor Abbott signed HB 1774 in the Texas Legislature which took effect on September 1, 2017. The HB 1774 pertains to damage or loss of insured property caused by “forces of nature, including an earthquake or tremor, wildfire, flood, tornado, lightning, hurricane, hail, wind, snowstorm or rainstorm.” The bill states that there are prerequisites which much be completed before an action is filed. In addition to any notice required by the insurance company, the person filing the claim must also provide a written notice of the following items sixty (60) days before filing a lawsuit:
Additionally, the person filing the claim must have the property inspected, photographed and evaluated within 60 days of receiving a pre-suit notice. The legislation also states that insurance companies now owe a lower penalty interest rate to homeowners when they make a late or incomplete payment. In the past, insurance companies paid an 18% interest rate for denying or delaying payment. After the passage of this law, the rate has been lowered to 10%. In summation, insurance companies are now receiving less of a consequence for excessively delaying and denying insurance claims made by those affected by natural disasters in Texas.
Since the effective date of this bill has passed, those filing claims in the wake of Hurricane Harvey must be mindful of these requirements. When filing a claim on your homeowners’ policy, be sure to clearly mark the date on your written notice. We highly recommend you keep a copy of the insurance claim you submitted for your records, as this may be of use in the event your insurance company engages in unethical practices in the process of dealing with your claim. Be advised that claims made after September 1, 2017, are subject to a higher interest rate if your initial submission does not adhere to the provisions in the insurer’s policy.
TWIA CLAIMS. Damage sustained near the coast from wind or hail are ruled by the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. Those who are insured by the TWIA must make their claim for windstorm damage from Hurricane Harvey in a timely manner. Recent changes in the law make it difficult to recover money from the TWIA as policyholders have one year to file a TWIA claim since the date their property was damaged or destroyed and there is a “$2.5 billion limit on a number of public securities that may be issued as a result of a storm or series of storms in a calendar year.”
NFIP CLAIMS. Damage to your house that includes only flooding and not wind or rain damage will probably be administrated by the National Flood Insurance Program. The NFIP’s Proof of Loss requirements must be followed carefully and timely. Any lawsuits related to Hurricane Harvey in the Houston area are to be filed in Harris County District Court.
PRIVATE INSURANCE CLAIMS. If your home sustained flooding and leaking from your roof or windows, this is likely due to windstorm damage. If this type of damage happened to your home, we strongly recommend that you file a claim under your NFIP flood policy along with notifying your private insurance provider.
Governor of Texas Gregg Abbott made a disaster proclamation for Hurricane Harvey. As a result of this, those who are uninsured and need assistance will find limited resources and aid available. We encourage you to apply for assistance based on your specific needs right away. In order to get your Hurricane Harvey flood insurance claim reviewed in a timely manner, we highly encourage you to be aware of how the newly effective law may affect the filing process of your claim. At Willams Kherkher, we know the full extent of the devastation that Harvey caused to our neighborhoods, our schools, and our local businesses, and we are committed to helping our friends and neighbors rebuild and replace what they have lost.
Contact the nationally-recognized insurance claim attorneys at Williams Hart today for help with your Hurricane Harvey insurance questions. Call us at (713) 352-0031, fill out our email form, or chat live with one of our representatives.