How To Claim Property Theft After Hurricane Harvey

After Hurricane Harvey finally ceased its unprecedented and torrential rainfall on the Texas coast, many homeowners began to remove their property from their houses and place it in their yard, with the intention of their property drying without too much damage in the sun.

However, in the wake of any tragedy, both humanity’s best side, as well as its worst side, will inevitably emerge.  In the case of Harvey, many homeowners who left their property on their lawn to dry were robbed of that property. For individuals who have lost some of their property in this way, it is possible to file an insurance claim.

The Homeowners Special Form, or H0-3, which is the standard Texas homeowners’ policy, provides coverage for personal property, as well as providing that ““[t]his peril includes attempted theft and loss of property from a known place when it is likely that the property has been stolen.”

In addition, this policy does not exclude items that have been left on the property of the homeowner. With full acknowledgment of the stress and the panic that storm survivors might be suffering, it would still be very helpful for you to document, either with pictures and/or a short video, which can both be taken with a cell phone, the items that are being temporarily removed from the household.

There are also precautions that the homeowner can take to dissuade passers-by from stealing the homeowner’s belongings.  The homeowner would be wise to place their property that requires sun exposure in the backyard, rather than in the front yard, so as to avoid the wandering eye of a potential thief.  Also, if the property is placed in the backyard, this will make it more difficult for the homeowner’s various insurance company to argue that this theft occurred because of the negligence of the homeowner leaving the property in the front yard, where someone walking by the house could very easily steal some of the homeowner’s property.

If the homeowner’s property is stolen, then the insurance company might try and question how much of the homeowner’s property damage was actually caused by the storm itself before the homeowner’s property was actually stolen.  The specific details of these types of insurance claims are likely to vary.

Essentially, there are three steps that a homeowner can take, in order to ensure that their property is not stolen from their yard after a storm.  These steps include:

  1. Making a detailed video record of any and all property that is placed outside of the house for any duration of time
  2. Taking reasonable steps to ensure the security of the property that is placed outside of the house by placing the property in the backyard, as opposed to the front yard
  3. Immediately filing an insurance claim if the property, which is only temporarily being placed outside, is stolen

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