HOUSTON -

For residents whose homes and/or vehicles have received fire damage, the Insurance Council of Texas offers the following advice:

Assess your Damage

Carefully check your vehicles and home for damage. If you think you have damage, contact your insurance agent or company as quickly as possible. Take photographs or videotape the damage for your records. Make temporary repairs that are necessary to prevent any further damage to your home or property and keep receipts for reimbursement.

Repairing the Damage

Prepare a list of personal property that was damaged or destroyed. Do not make any permanent repairs until an adjuster arrives. An adjuster will work with your list of records and assess the damage in reaching a total dollar figure for compensation.

Total Destruction

Contact your agent or company representative immediately to discuss possible reimbursement of temporary living expenses. Before leaving your damaged home, make sure your address is visible and that your agent, family, neighbors and company representatives know where you can be reached.

Time Frame

Once an insurance company has received your claim, the company has 15 days to notify you that they have either accepted or rejected your claim. Insurance companies may be granted additional time by the Texas Department of Insurance to notify you because of an abundance of weather-related claims.

Claim Dispute

Most homeowner?s insurance policies allow for an appraisal process to settle claim disputes. Carefully read your policy or inquire with your agent on how the process works. Once all differences have been settled, the insurance company has five business days to mail you a check.

Settlement

The goal of every insurance company is to put the disrupted life of their policyholders back together. In any catastrophe, insurance companies do their best to fairly and accurately assess damage and bring relief to their policyholders as quickly as possible.

For more information, visit www.insurancecouncil.org.