- Don’t return until authorities have said it’s safe to do so.Don’t enter your home if you smell gas, if floodwaters remain, or if your home was damaged by fire and authorities have not said it’s safe to enter.
- Call your insurance agent or company promptly to report property damage. Keep a record of all contacts you have with your company. Be prepared to answer questions about the extent and severity of the damage. Follow the call immediately with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas’ prompt-payment law.
- Ask your agent about additional living expenses (ALE). This coverage reimburses you for any necessary and reasonable increase in food or lodging expenses if you have to move while your home is being repaired.
- Photograph or videotape the damage.
- Make reasonable and necessary repairs to protect your home and property from further damage. Cover broken windows and holes to keep rain out. Do not make permanent repairs before a claims adjuster inspects the damage. Keep a record of your repair expenses and save all receipts.
- Try to be present when the adjuster inspects your damage. You may also have your contractor present at the inspection or have the contractor review the adjuster’s report before settling the claim. Don’t accept an unfair settlement. Most adjusters can provide proof-of-loss forms if you need to file a flood insurance claim. The claim forms must be filed with the National Flood Insurance Program within 60 days.
- If you hire a public insurance adjuster, make sure the public adjuster is licensed by TDI. Public insurance adjusters work independently and charge a fee for their services. If you hire a public adjuster, keep in mind that you may have less money to repair or replace your damaged property. Public insurance adjusters must disclose their fees in the written contract with you. Public adjusters may not give legal advice and may not participate, either directly or indirectly, in the reconstruction or repair of your damaged property. Make sure the public adjuster is licensed by TDI by calling TDI’s Consumer Help Line or using the “Agent Search” feature on our websitewww.tdi.state.tx.us
- Work with reputable contractors. Ask contractors for references and verify them. Contact your Better Business Bureau, local police, or Chamber of Commerce for information. Insist on an itemized contract in writing and pay only as work is completed. The Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act prohibits price gouging once the governor has declared an area a disaster area. If you suspect price-gouging or any other deceptive business practice, call the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hot Line
- If your home is not insured, call your local Red Cross. There may be a Disaster Recovery Center in your area to provide information and assistance. If the event is a federally declared disaster, contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency