Hurricane Harvey could very well turn out to be the costliest natural disaster in U.S. History. Preliminary damage estimates are currently hovering around the $200 billion-dollar range, and many communities will remain inaccessible and uninhabitable for the foreseeable future. Damages to residential property such as houses and cars have been catastrophic, and have created precarious situations for individuals across the affected region.
For many residents of Houston and southeast Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, filing an insurance claim at this moment is the last thing on our minds. First and foremost, we are checking in on our loved ones, getting to safety, and figuring out which roadways are now open in order to return to work. However, make sure to add one thing to your to-do list: call your insurance company to establish a claim for any damages to your vehicle and your home, preferably before Friday, September 1st.
On September 1st, HB 1774 goes into effect. This new law limits the amount of penalty that insurers may have to pay if they fail to comply with the “prompt pay” requirements of the Texas insurance code. Prior to the effective date of HB 1774, all insurance claims (whether by the insured or by someone injured by the insured) are subject to the 18% penalty provision. Claims that are made by insureds for property damage after September 1st will only be able to add 10% to their damages if their insurance company fails to pay promptly in accordance with the law. Therefore, it is in your interest to file your claim before September 1st in order to be able to access the higher 18% penalty should a lawsuit become necessary.
Please note: contrary to what some internet sources may suggest, September 1st is not a “filing deadline.” You can certainly file your claim after September 1st for any property damages that you may have incurred from Hurricane Harvey. Also note that even if you do not have flood insurance for your home, you may qualify for assistance through grants or low-interest loans through the federal government. See www.disasterassistance.gov for more information.
If you or someone you know are having trouble getting the insurance company to cover the full amount of the damages to your home or vehicle, contact one of our experienced bad faith insurance claim attorneys to represent you in your property damage case.