CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Hurricane Hanna slammed the Texas coast this weekend as the first U.S. landfalling hurricane of the Atlantic season, bringing damaging winds, heavy rain, and flooding to the region. The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) urges those who experienced damage to their property to contact their insurer as soon as possible to begin the claims process.
“Insurers are responding quickly and efficiently to help their customers after this storm while keeping everyone safe during the pandemic,” said Jeff Brewer, vice president of public affairs for APCIA. “Contact your insurer through their toll-free claims number, via their website or by text to get your claim started and make a thorough inventory of what was lost or damaged.”
Damage associated with wind and other severe weather is typically covered under a standard homeowners, renters or business policy, however, flood damage is not. Flood damage is covered under a separate policy so property owners will need to contact their flood insurer to file a flood-related claim. Water damage to a vehicle is typically covered if the policyholder’s auto policy includes comprehensive insurance coverage.
After the storm, watch out for dishonest contractors and third parties who often go door to door preying on homeowners in need of repairs. Before signing any contracts for repair work, talk to your insurer first to make sure the damage is covered. APCIA offers tips for how to avoid contractor fraud and abuse here.
“Your insurer can help you find a reputable and licensed contractor, or you can check with your local better business bureau for references,” added Brewer.
APCIA offers the following recovery tips:
Filing a Claim
· Contact your insurer as soon as possible to report the damage. Have your policy number ready.
· Photograph or videotape the damage to share with your insurer and keep a copy for your records.
· If there are holes in your roof or your windows are broken, be sure to cover them as quickly as possible to prevent further damage.
· Save receipts of what you spend and submit them to your insurer for reimbursement.
· Do not throw away any damaged items until an adjuster visits your home. Keep in mind that due to COVID-19 and social distancing, you may collaborate with an adjuster via a video call instead of an in-person visit.
· Many standard homeowners and renters policies provide reimbursement of additional living expenses when the property is determined to be uninhabitable due to damage. This provision helps pay for things like temporary housing, restaurant meals, overnight parking and laundry service. Check with your insurer or agent for a list of what your policy will cover.
After a Flood
· Shovel or scrape mud off floors, furniture, and walls before the mud dries. Then hose down the walls with clean water, starting from the ceiling.
· Major appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, can be washed and dried completely. In most cases, they will not be damaged unless they were operating at the time the water covered them.
· Diluted chlorine bleach can be used to clean household items, appliances, walls, and floors and will help control odors.
· Wood furniture should be dried outdoors, but not in direct sunlight. Remove drawers and other moving parts before they dry.
· Food utensils and equipment should be washed thoroughly and sterilized before using. Any food that is open and exposed to flood waters should be discarded.
APCIA insurance experts are available for interviews and to answer questions. Contact Sarah Revell for more information at 850-879-1853 or Sarah.Revell@apci.org.