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Before the Storm

(En Español)

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  • Keep an inventory. Fill out TDI's Home Inventory Checklist that you can print, save, or email to yourself. Also take photos or videotape of each room and the exterior of your home to keep with your inventory.
  • Gather important documents and insurance cards and policies. Unless they are stored in a safe place, take health insurance cards; auto and home insurance policies; and an inventory of your possessions, including receipts and photos or videos.
  • Know what your policy covers. Make sure your homeowners or commercial property coverage is still in force and that it provides enough coverage to pay the full replacement cost of your property. Check your auto policy to see if you have comprehensive coverage "other than collision." Comprehensive coverage pays if a storm, fire, or flood damages your car. Find out how much coverage you have for "additional living expenses" to cover lodging, food, and other expenses if you're forced to vacate your residence after suffering a covered loss.
  • Know your policy limits. Contact your agent and check the limits of your policies. For homeowners policies, ask about limits for contents and buildings. Your limits may be too low if replacement costs have risen because of new additions, improvements, or inflation. Understand the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost.
  • Understand how much your deductible is. The deductible is the portion of the loss you're responsible for paying. Most companies subtract your deductible from the amount it owes you. For example, if you have a claim for $1,000 and a deductible of $300, the insurance company will deduct $300 from your claim check.
  • Know how your health plan handles nonemergency care. Some health plans won't pay for nonemergency health care from out-of-network providers or will only pay part of the cost. Know how your policy handles out-of-network care in case a disaster forces you to leave your network area.
  • Consider alternative storing methods for company files. Important documents can be scanned and stored in a safe location. Also consider taking photos of office equipment and furniture.

Have the Right Type of Insurance

The type of insurance you need depends on where you live and the type of property you want to insure. Consider buying the following types of insurance if they fit your needs:

Flood Insurance

Homeowners and commercial property policies specifically exclude coverage for damage from flooding from rising waters. To protect yourself from losses caused by most flooding, you'll need to buy a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA. Flood insurance policies have a 30-day waiting period after the purchase date before coverage takes effect, so if you do not have a policy, you should get one as soon as possible.

For more information about flood insurance, call the NFIP at 1-888-FLOOD 29 (356-6329) or visit its website at floodsmart.gov.

Wind and Hail Insurance

If your property is located in one of Texas' 14 coastal counties, or parts of southeastern Harris County, you will likely only be able to get insurance coverage for windstorm or hail damage from a special insurance pool called the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. To qualify for TWIA coverage, your property must pass a windstorm inspection and must meet certain windstorm-resistant building standards. You can't buy or change TWIA coverage once a hurricane has entered the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information about windstorm coverage, call TWIA at 1-800-788-8247 or visit TWIA's website.

Also visit these TDI resources:

Windstorm insurance inspections. New structures, alterations, additions, or repairs to existing structures, including re-roofs or roof repairs must be inspected by a TDI inspector or an engineer who has been appointed by the Commissioner of Insurance. There is no fee for any inspection conducted by TDI. All inspections must be made during the construction phase. For questions or to find out if your home was previously inspected, contact your agent or TDI's Windstorm Inspection Division at 1-800-248-6032. Also visit the Windstorm Section Home Page.

TWIA flood insurance requirement. Certain Gulf Coast residents may be required to purchase flood insurance on their property before they are eligible for a TWIA policy. To view flood maps, visit FEMA's website.

Note: Property repairs are excluded from the requirement. Repair is defined as the reconstruction or restoration of a structure that is damaged or deteriorated.

Other Coverages to Consider

  • Renters insurance pays to repair or replace personal property -- things like your clothes, furniture, and electronics -- if they are stolen or damaged. It also provides liability protection for you and pays additional living expenses if your home or apartment is damaged and you must move out temporarily. Renters insurance won't pay to fix the house or apartment building. The building owner's insurance policy covers that. Some rental
  • Comprehensive auto coverage. Comprehensive (other than collision) coverage will pay to repair or replace your car if it's damaged or destroyed by a hail, wind, fire, or flood. Texas law requires you to have liability coverage but not comprehensive coverage. Check your auto policy's declaration page to find out whether you have comprehensive coverage. Depending on the value of your car, consider buying comprehensive coverage to be fully protected.
  • Business interruption coverage. Business interruption coverage pays lost income and some operating expenses if you are forced to leave your business because of a loss your policy covers. Before buying a policy, consider the potential lost income, operating expenses, and extra expenses you'll have while rebuilding your business.
  • Loss of rent. If you own rental property, you may want to add coverage that pays the rent if your tenants can't live in your rental property after a covered loss.
  • Replacement cost coverage. Replacement cost is the amount it would take to rebuild or repair your house at current construction costs. Replacement cost is different from market value and doesn't include the value of your land. Actual cash value is the cost to rebuild or replace your house, minus depreciation. Depreciation is a decrease in value because of wear and tear or age. To ensure that you can rebuild your house if it's destroyed, buy a policy with replacement cost coverage. Also consider replacement cost coverage on your personal property. If you have replacement cost coverage, the insurance company will pay you the actual cash value for your claim first and then pay the remainder of your claim after you've made the repairs or replaced the damaged property.
  • Loss of use. Loss of use pays your additional living expenses (housing, food, and other essential expenses) if you must temporarily move because of damage to your house from a covered loss. Your policy will pay either a percentage of the amount of your dwelling coverage (typically 10 to 20 percent) or for a specific period after the loss (such as 24 months).
  • Coverage of jewelry, artwork, and electronics. Your policy may not cover these items or might only provide limited coverage. You can usually buy endorsements to cover this type of additional item or increase the coverage you have.
  • Increased coverage on other structures. Your homeowners policy covers buildings or structures on your property that aren't attached to your house, subject to the policy's limits. You can increase your limits for an additional premium.

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Last updated: 04/24/2017

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