Impacted by storm damage? Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about filing a claim

A large tree has fallen on a home in Humble after a reported tornado brushed through. (KPRC)

Over the years, KPRC 2 has provided information on how to file a claim related to hurricane, tornado, flood and freeze damage. The severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that hit the Houston area Tuesday will once again have people cleaning up and making calls to insurance companies.

We looked at the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) site to gather the most up to date information about what residents should do after a storm as well as the most frequently asked questions about disaster claims.

Here are steps you should take if you will be filing an insurance claim according to TDI:

  1. Call your insurance company or agent as soon as possible, make sure they have your current phone number, and keep a record of everyone you talk to (Ask about advance payment if you need help quickly or living expenses if you can’t stay in your home.)
  2. Take pictures and video of damage, don’t throw anything away until insurance adjuster says it’s okay
  3. Temporary repairs to prevent additional damage should be made - but don’t make permanent repairs until an adjuster sees the damage
  4. Make sure your address is visible from the street, this may mean putting a sign with your address in the yard
  5. If possible, try to be present when the adjuster visits so you can point out all damage
  6. Get multiple contractor bids and compare them with adjuster’s report before settling the claim (TDI offers information about the signs of a contracting scam so you can avoid them)
  7. Keep a list of repairs and save all receipts

One more note directly from TDI: Save proof that you paid the deductible on the claim. A state law makes it illegal for contractors or roofers to offer to waive a deductible or to promise a rebate for your deductible. It also allows insurance companies to request proof, such a receipt or canceled check, that you paid the deductible.

If you still have questions, TDI has a helpline that is open Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. CT. The number is: 800-252-3439. If you need shelter or emergency food or water, contact the Red Cross at 800-733-2767.

Shelters available

Disaster Relief shelter at the BakerRipley Pasadena Campus

720 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX 77504

Memorial Baptist Church hosting site

6901 Fairmont Pkwy, Pasadena, TX 77505 - Shelter, showers, electricity, food/water, clean-up crews and donations.

Salvation Army Relief Station in Pasadena & Deer Park

- The Salvation Army of Greater Houston announced Wednesday that it has opened a Relief Station in Pasadena, located at the corner of Burke and Yellowstone drives, between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m., to provide meals, assistance information and clean-up kits.

- A second Relief Station will be established in Deer Park at the Central Baptist Church located on Center Street and Oak Street in the Oak Street parking lot. Service will begin between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. as well with both locations serving while supplies last. 

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of yesterday’s storms and, as we are with all natural disasters, the Salvation Army of Greater Houston is here to help our communities in any way we can.” Said Salvation Army Major Robb Webb, who went on to say “As the citizens of Pasadena, Deer Park and surrounding communities begin the process of rebuilding the homes, businesses and lives, we hope our assistance will make that process easier.”

FAQ from TDI

A storm blew my fence down. Will my homeowners pay for the repairs to my fence? - If your policy provides coverage for wind, you likely have some coverage for the fence. Coverage for fences is usually limited to actual cash value. That means your company will deduct depreciation from what it pays. You’ll also have to pay your deductible.

My neighbor’s tree fell on my house. Will my neighbor´s homeowners policy pay for the damage and tree removal? - Probably not, unless your neighbor was at fault. Your neighbor isn’t responsible for acts of nature. If your neighbor’s policy doesn’t pay, you can file a claim under your own policy. (Additional note: Trees and limbs falling in your yard (that don’t damage property) usually aren’t covered. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.)

A tree fell on my car. Will my auto insurance pay for the damage to my car? - Your auto policy will pay for damages if you have comprehensive coverage. If the tree was your neighbor’s, their homeowners insurance might pay if your neighbor is somehow at fault. If not, their policy likely won’t pay because your neighbor isn’t responsible for an act of nature.

The food in my refrigerator spoiled when the power was out. Will my homeowners policy pay to replace my food? - Most homeowners and renters policies will pay up to $500 or more for spoiled food if the power fails under certain circumstances. Often, there is not a deductible. Take pictures or keep a list of the food that spoiled.

I have insurance. Should I apply for FEMA aid? - Yes, go ahead and apply. If you have insurance of any kind (homeowners, wind, flood), you must use it first. If there is something your insurance doesn’t cover, including temporary housing, FEMA might be able to help.

Will my homeowners company send the claim check straight to me? - If you have a loan on your house, the company will usually send the check to your mortgage company. You’ll then have to work with the mortgage company to get the money released for repairs.

TDI provides answers to even more specific questions

Resource links provided by TDI

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