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Storm Warnings

(May 2018)

(En Español)

Have the right type of insuranceReview your coverages regularlyGather information and documents | Protect your propertyAfter the stormGet Help from TDI

Storms in Texas often happen with little or no warning. Staying prepared helps protect your family and property, and can save you time and frustration if you have to file an insurance claim.

The following tips can help you prepare. For more tips and resources, visit

1. Have the right type of insurance

The type of insurance you need depends on what you want to insure and where you live. 

Homeowners insurance

Homeowners insurance pays to repair or replace your house if it’s damaged or destroyed by a storm, fire, or other event covered by your policy. Homeowners insurance also covers your personal property – your furniture, clothes, and other items you own. If you have additional living expenses coverage, your policy will pay some of your expenses, such as rent and extra meal costs, if you have to move temporarily because your house is too damaged to live in.

Renters insurance

Renters insurance pays to repair or replace your personal property. It also pays some of your expenses if you have to move temporarily because of damage to your home. Renters insurance doesn’t pay to repair the building.

Flood insurance

Homeowners and renters policies don’t cover damage caused by flooding from rising waters. To protect yourself from most types of flooding, you need to buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Flood policies take effect 30 days after you buy them. To buy flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent or call NFIP at 1-800-427-4661. For more information, visit the NFIP website

Wind and hail insurance

If you live on or near the Texas coast, your homeowners policy probably doesn’t cover wind and hail damage. You’ll need to buy a separate wind and hail policy from an insurance company or the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). Talk to your agent or call TWIA at 1-800-788-8247. You can also visit You can’t buy or change your windstorm coverage after a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico.

Auto insurance

Comprehensive auto coverage pays to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged by hail, wind, fire, or flood. Texas law requires you to have liability coverage but not comprehensive coverage. Read your auto policy or talk to your agent to find out whether you have comprehensive coverage. If you don’t, you can add it to your policy.

Commercial property insurance

Commercial property insurance helps businesses, including farms and ranches, pay to repair or replace property that’s damaged by a storm, fire, or other event covered by your policy. Business interruption coverage pays lost income and some expenses if you have to close your business because of a disaster.

2. Review your coverages regularly

Make sure your insurance policies are up to date and provide enough coverage. Your policy will pay only up to your policy’s dollar limits. It’s a good idea to review your coverage every year. Your coverage limits might be too low if replacement costs have risen because of inflation, new purchases, or renovations.

Know how your policy pays to replace damaged or destroyed property. Some policies pay only the actual cash value of your property. Actual cash value is the value of your property based on its age and condition. For example, if your roof is 20 years old, an actual cash value policy will pay you the value of a 20-year-old roof. It won’t pay enough to completely replace your roof if it’s destroyed. To ensure that you’re able to completely rebuild your house or replace your property, you’ll need replacement cost coverage. Replacement cost coverage pays to replace your property with new items like the ones you lost. If your policy doesn’t provide replacement cost coverage, you can usually add it.    

Most policies limit the amount they pay for jewelry, artwork, and electronics. If you own items like these, you might need to buy more coverage.

Also make sure you know the amount of your deductible and how it works. The deductible is the amount you have to pay before your insurance company begins to pay. Insurance companies subtract the deductible from the amount of your claim. For example, if a storm causes $6,000 in damage to your house and your deductible is $500, the insurance company will pay $5,500.

For health insurance, know how your health plan handles nonemergency care. Some health plans won’t pay for nonemergency care from out-of-network doctors, or will pay only part of the cost. This could be important if a disaster forces you to leave your plan’s network area and you have to go to the doctor.

Ask your agent if you have questions about your coverages or policies.

3. Gather information and documents

Make a list of the items you own and update it at least once a year. Include the serial number, value, and date you bought each item. Take pictures or videos of each room in your home. Remember to take pictures of the contents of your closets and drawers. If you have to file a claim, the list and photos will make it easier to tell your insurance company about your losses. You can use TDI’s Home Inventory Checklist to get started. For a printed copy, call our Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439.

Keep the list and other important documents in a safe place to protect them from storm damage. Consider emailing electronic copies to yourself so you’ll have them wherever you are.

4. Protect your property

If you have time before the storm hits:

  • Cover windows and sliding glass doors with storm shutters or plywood panels. Use heavy-duty masking tape on small windows.
  • Move furniture and other items away from windows and to an upper floor.
  • Unplug appliances, TVs, and other electronics.
  • Move cars into a garage.
  • Secure boats and trailers.
  • Check tie-downs if you live in a mobile home.
  • Move lawn furniture and other loose items indoors.
  • Brace garage doors, drain swimming pools halfway, and secure TV antennas and satellite dishes.
  • Trim dead wood from trees. This will help prevent damage from falling limbs.
  • Clear debris away from your house. Remove dead or dry wood and plants.
  • Lock your doors and windows if you leave your house.

After the storm

To help the insurance claims process go smoothly:

  • Call your insurance agent or company as soon as you can to report damage. If you have a TWIA policy, report claims to TWIA at 1-800-788-8247. If you have a flood policy, report claims to NFIP at 1-800-638-6620.
  • Take pictures and video of your damaged property. Don’t throw away damaged items until your insurance adjuster has seen them.
  • Make temporary repairs to protect your home and property from more damage. Remove standing water. Cover broken windows and holes to keep rain out. Don’t make permanent repairs before the insurance adjuster sees the damage. Keep a list of the repairs you make and save all receipts.
  • Make sure your address is visible. Put a sign with your address and the name of your insurance company in a spot that can be easily seen from the street.
  • Make sure the insurance company and adjuster can contact you. If you move, tell your company and adjuster your temporary address and phone number.
  • Try to be there when the adjuster looks at your damage. Have your contractor there too, if possible. Make sure your contractor reviews the adjuster’s report before you settle the claim.

The claims process

Your insurance company must acknowledge your claim within 15 days of receiving it. The company may ask you for more information. The company must then accept or reject your claim within 15 business days of getting the information it needs from you. If the company denies your claim, it must tell you why in writing. The deadlines may be longer after large disasters.

The insurance company will send an adjuster to look at your property and estimate the cost of repairs. If you disagree with the adjuster’s estimate, tell the company why. You can also ask your contractor to talk to the adjuster. If you still disagree with the estimate, you can use the appraisal process or hire a public insurance adjuster to help negotiate a settlement.

The appraisal process is available only for disputes about the amount of your claim. You can’t use it to settle disputes about whether the damage is covered by your policy.

Once you and the company agree on a settlement amount, the company has five business days to pay your claim. If you owe money on your home, the company will usually send the check to your mortgage company. You’ll then have to work with the mortgage company to get the money released for repairs. Most insurance companies pay only part of your claim at first. They’ll pay the rest of your claim after you’ve completed repairs or replaced your property.   

Note: TWIA and surplus lines policies may have different deadlines than other insurance companies. If you have a TWIA or surplus lines policy, read your policy or talk to your agent to understand the claims process.

If you need information about the TWIA claims process or have a complaint, call the Coastal Outreach and Assistance Services Team (COAST) at 1-855-352-6278 or visit the COAST page

Public adjusters and contractors

Public insurance adjusters help negotiate claim settlements with insurance companies. They work for you, not the insurance company. Before you hire a public adjuster, make sure you understand how much the public adjuster will charge you. Their fees are usually based on a percentage of your claim settlement amount.

Public adjusters may not do any repair or construction work on your property. Public adjusters must have a license from TDI. To learn if a public adjuster is licensed, call TDI’s Consumer Help Line or use the Agent Lookup feature on our website.

Work only with reputable contractors. Before you choose a contractor, ask for references and verify them. Check with your local Better Business Bureau or chamber of commerce to see whether they have any complaints about the contractors you’re considering.

If you suspect price gouging or any other deceptive business practice, call the Texas Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hot Line at 1-800-337-3928.

Get Help from TDI

For insurance questions or for help with an insurance-related complaint, call the TDI Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit our website.

You can also visit to help you shop for automobile, homeowners, condo, and renters insurance, and to learn more about health care coverage and your options.

The information in this publication is current as of the revision date. Changes in laws and agency administrative rules made after the revision date may affect the content. View current information on our website. TDI distributes this publication for educational purposes only. This publication is not an endorsement by TDI of any service, product, or company.

For more information, contact:

Last updated: 5/30/2018