To our friends and neighbors in Montgomery and surrounding counties:
We have all been dealing with the after effects of Hurricane Harvey and the tremendous amount of flooding caused by the associated rainfall. We want to advise you that, while many, if not most of these claims, will be directed toward FEMA and covered by flood insurance, there are going to be those claims which will be filed with the homeowners insurance company for your home. In the event your home was affected by wind damages to Hurricane Harvey, your homeowners insurance may well provide coverage for that damage. You should relay that claim to your insurance agent for the agent’s expertise and assistance in the filing of the claim.
Over the past twelve years, our office has handled much of the litigation for our insurance clients which was filed for the various storms, hurricanes, and hail events beginning with the 2005 hurricane season. Since that time, there have been many changes in Texas law, including appellate court decisions and statutory enactments, which have changed the landscape dramatically for the homeowners seeking policy benefits for damage to their home.
In the hopes of avoiding protracted and costly litigation, we would suggest that the homeowner take the following course of action:
- Document, by photographs and video, each area of damage including the attic and, if possible to do so safely, the roof;
- Also, document any contents damages which may have been caused due to the wind related claim;
- Report the claim to your insurance agent for evaluation of whether or not this damage may be covered by your homeowners policy;
- If you file a claim, and are not happy with the adjuster’s estimate of damages, consider the use of appraisal as a tool;
- Appraisal does not require litigation and, in fact, most homeowners policies require appraisal in the event of a dispute as to the scope of the damages prior to the filing of any lawsuit;
- Each party must retain and bear the cost of their own appraiser;
- Usually the two appraisers can agree, but if not, then an umpire is selected to evaluate only the differences between the two appraisers and each party bears one half the cost of the umpire;
- The umpire’s decision is extremely difficult to overturn and is usually binding.
After the appraisal award is issued, your insurer is given five business days within which to issue a check, if any, for the amount of the appraisal award. This process has been available for Texas residents since the 1800s. Not only does it save the costs of attorneys for both parties, but also the additional numerous expenses associated with a lawsuit, and a usually very protracted time frame in which the litigation is conducted.
Please remember that damage caused by rising waters is not covered by homeowners insurance company. Therefore, if rain affected your home, then the damage caused by flood waters will be directed to what is hopefully your flood insurance policy. Further, if you are seeking legal advice, ask an attorney with experience in this field to consider the specific facts related to your claim and rely on your attorney in considering any course of action.
The law firm of Thomas M Fountain & Associates, P. C. is an AV Preeminent rated law firm located in The Woodlands, Texas which is in the greater Houston metropolitan area. Thomas M Fountain has 35 years of experience upon which the firm’s clients draw when necessary. The firm prides itself on being proactive rather than reactive.
For more information see our Website at www.HoustonTrialLaw.com or call (281) 296-6500.
*Certifications not Implied.