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You should file a property damage insurance claim as soon as you discover damage.  This is always good advice, but the week before September 1st was critical for anyone making claims in Texas.  Our insurance laws changed for the worse on Friday September 1, 2017, after House Bill 1774 went into effect.

Effects of the new law:

– Slashes penalties on insurance companies for dragging their feet in paying valid claims
– Forces many insurance cases into our federal courts, where it takes much longer to receive justice
– Imposes additional costs on property owners
– May make it harder for property owners to find a lawyer willing to take their case.

The new law may not affect your insurance claim, depending on the type of claim and whether or not the company processes and pays your claim fairly and timely.  However, given the fact that insurance companies are notorious for customarily denying claims, and dragging out payments, it was in your best interest to file your claim before September 1st so that you can have the added protections of the old law in case you need it.

– Tell the insurance company that your home or business suffered damage as a result of Hurricane Harvey and that this communication is intended to serve as notice of your claim.

– Notify your insurance company in writing if at all possible (online, email, fax).  If that is impossible, notify the insurance company by text or phone and write down the date, time and name of the person you speak with.  This may or may not serve as a valid notice, but it is better than nothing.

– Include your full name, address, and insurance policy number, if you have it with you.

– You do not have to wait until you have pictures before filing a claim.  You can submit that later.

– File a claim with every property insurance company you have

– Flood insurance is sold separately from your homeowners policy

– Property owners along the coast may have yet another insurance policy with the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.