February 8, 2024
Need to make an auto or home insurance claim?
Tips to help you succeed:
- After a car accident or incident at your home, talk to your insurance company. You’ll want to discuss your options. Maybe you don’t want to file a claim. Consider your deductible—how much you pay before your insurance pays.
- If you make a claim, write down details including when you called the company, who you talked to, and your adjuster’s name. Also, make a list of documents or information the company wants from you.
- After a car accident, move your car to a safe location. Take photos of the accident scene, including your car, other involved cars, and anything that’s been hit such as trees, buildings, or street signs. Also photograph the other driver’s insurance information, driver’s license, and license plate.
- If your house is damaged, write down the time and date you first saw the damage. Also note what the weather was like at the time. Take photos of any damage. Protect your home from further damage by covering broken windows or putting a tarp over a roof hole. Don’t make permanent repairs until your company gives the OK.
- On any claim, save all receipts.
Want more tips about making a claim? Listen to this Texas Insurance Podcast.
- Tips for filing a claim with your insurance company
- Were you in a wreck? Tips for auto insurance claims
- Steps to getting your home or car insurance claim paid
January 12, 2024
Are you hearing unexpected cracking sounds from outside?
Texas tree branches have been crashing under the weight of ice.
If one falls on your house or car, use these tips:
- Take photos of the damage before you move the tree, make repairs, or take other steps to prevent more damage.
- Make temporary repairs to prevent more damage, and contact your agent or insurance company as soon as possible.
- Save your receipts for reimbursement. Your homeowner policy should cover materials and labor used to make repairs.
FAQ about trees that fell in your yard
A tree fell on my house and damaged my roof. Will my homeowners pay for repairs?
Many policies pay for damages from falling objects, like trees. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.
A tree fell in my yard. Will my homeowners policy pay for tree removal?
Many policies provide some coverage to remove trees or limbs that fell due to storm damage and damage your house or block your driveway. Trees and limbs falling in your yard usually aren’t covered. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay.
My neighbor's tree fell on my house. Will my neighbor´s homeowners policy pay for the damage and tree removal?
Probably not, unless your neighbor was at fault. Your neighbor isn’t responsible for acts of nature. If your neighbor's policy doesn’t pay, you can file a claim under your own policy.
A tree fell on my car. Will my auto insurance pay for the damage to my car?
Your auto policy will pay for damages if you have comprehensive coverage.
If the tree was your neighbor’s, their homeowners insurance might pay if your neighbor is somehow at fault. If not, their policy likely won’t pay because your neighbor isn’t responsible for an act of nature.
Other questions? Call our Help Line at 800-252-3439.
January 12, 2024
If you lose power and the food in your refrigerator spoils, can your insurance help?
Some homeowners and renters policies will pay up to $500 for spoiled food if the power fails under certain circumstances. Call your agent or company to ask if your policy will pay. Sometimes there is not a deductible.
Take pictures or keep a list of the food that spoiled.
And clean any food spoilage to prevent damage to your refrigerator.
Have other insurance questions? Call the TDI Help Line, 800-252-3439, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.
- FAQ: Homeowners insurance and disaster claims
- Creak! Crackle! Pop! Does insurance cover fallen tree branches?
November 15, 2023
Before you head out for a vacation, we have some tips to keep your home safe while you’re gone.
Set timers on interior lights. Criminals are looking for an easy target. Use a timer on a few lights to make it appear that someone is home, and don’t let newspapers or mail pile up. Make sure valuables aren’t visible to someone looking through windows, and never leave a key outside.
Don’t post on social media. It’s best not to post that you’re away even if you think only friends and family can see your social media accounts.
Lock doors and windows. It’s obvious, but it’s also easy to forget. Before you leave, take one last trip around the house to make sure everything is locked.
Unplug TVs and computers. It’s Texas so you never know when an electrical storm could cause a power surge. To protect expensive electronics, unplug them or use a surge protector.
October 12, 2023
Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires.
So do right in your kitchen and protect your home.
Cooking safety tips:
- Once you start cooking, keep your eyes on the sizzle. Inattention can lead to flames you don’t want.
- Try not to leave the kitchen while cooking — and never ditch a hot stovetop. If you stray from your oven, set a timer so you’re back before dinner chars.
- If children are afoot, keep them 3 feet away from your cooking zone, indoors or out. Enforce the zone for your pets too.
Get more tips in our cooking safety podcast featuring Kelly Ransdell of the National Fire Protection Association. The association marks National Fire Prevention Week each October.
- How to prevent kitchen fires with our cooking safety tips
- Is your kitchen too hot to handle? (video)
- How to make a home fire escape plan (video)
September 7, 2023
Are you wanting to lower your home insurance costs?
Consider shopping for a new policy. Plan ahead by starting a month or more before your current policy expires.
- Ask your agent if a premium increase or other changes in your policy are in the works. This helps you make comparisons.
- Visit HelpInsure.com to get estimated premium quotes from different companies.
- Consider a higher deductible, which could reduce your premium.
You can hear more on shopping for home insurance in the Texas Insurance Podcast.
- Ways to save money on home insurance
- Lower your home insurance cost by asking for discounts
- How to shop smart for home insurance
- FAQ: Homeowners insurance, claims, saving money, and more
August 3, 2023
In August 1970, Hurricane Celia slammed ashore at Corpus Christi, killing and injuring residents and leaving previously unheard-of hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
In response to insurance companies increasing rates or no longer selling wind and hail coverage along the Gulf Coast, state lawmakers in 1971 launched the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).
TWIA continues to serve as the wind and hail insurer of last resort for property owners in Texas’ 14 coastal counties and parts of Harris County. TWIA currently backs more than 237,000 policies.
If you live in a coastal community, read your homeowners policy to see if it covers hail and wind damage. If not, contact your insurance agent to see what options you have for coverage.
Eric Casas, TWIA ombudsman at the Texas Department of Insurance, cautions against assuming you can go without wind or hail coverage just because your home hasn’t been hit by a terrible storm. And if you have a mortgage, your lender will likely require you to have windstorm coverage.
Hear more tips about protecting your home from hail and wind damage in this episode of the Texas Insurance Podcast.
- What is windstorm insurance?
- Texas Windstorm Insurance Association
- Homeowners, flood, and wind and hail policies: Know how they work
- What you need to know about windstorm inspections
July 18, 2023
When you ride your bike, insurance rides with you. For instance, if your bike is stolen, your homeowners or renters policy might cover replacement, though your coverage might have a dollar limit.
Read your policy or contact your agent to be sure.
If you bike often, you may want to ask your agent about liability coverage. If you cause an accident that results in property damage or injures someone, liability insurance could help cover costs you’re responsible for. If you have home or renters insurance, it likely includes liability coverage.
July 11, 2023
A dog bite bites—with about one in five dog bites requiring medical attention.
If your dog bites someone on your property, your homeowners insurance might help.
- Some policies exclude certain breeds. To be sure, check your policy or call your insurance company.
- Medical payments coverage in your policy pays the medical bills of people hurt on your property. It also pays for some injuries that happen away from home, like at a park.
- You might want to buy more liability coverage through an umbrella policy. A personal liability umbrella policy helps if your home insurance doesn’t cover dog bite injuries or doesn’t pay enough. Umbrella coverage pays up to a certain amount (usually $1 million or more) for medical bills, lost wages, and lawsuits if someone sues you.
April 6, 2023
A spring hurricane is unlikely. The latest one, Hurricane Alma, fizzled out near Cuba in May 1970.
Still, spring rains, hail, wind and even tornadoes can threaten homes, cars, and lives.
Some storm preparation tips:
- Paul Yura of the National Weather Service suggests you keep three days of food, water and other supplies, including pet food, on hand.
- Also, Yura says, decide well ahead of time where your family will go if dangerous weather approaches.
- Count on weather alerts on your cell phone. But, Yura says, also keep a weather radio handy, with fresh batteries. Sometimes the phone runs out of juice.
View podcast Q&A: How to prepare for spring storms
- Texas summer storm safety
- 5 tips for driving in windy conditions
- Are you ready for a disaster?
- Tips to avoid a tornado: Follow weather reports
March 2, 2023
Your premiums for auto and home insurance are likely different every year. This shows how much insurance companies have changed their rates on average across the state.
January 17, 2023
A Texas law (House Bill 531) emphasizes that renters insurance doesn’t pay for flood damage.
Renters insurance, available for about $20 a month, pays to repair or replace the things you own if they’re damaged by fire, smoke, theft or vandalism, and certain kinds of water damage.
But renters policies don’t pay for losses caused by floods.
Renters worried about flooding should consider buying a separate flood policy. Ask your agent if they sell flood insurance. If not, you can buy a policy from the National Flood Insurance Program. You can also call them at 800-427-4661.
- Tell potential renters if they know the dwelling is in a 100-year flood plain.
- Tell potential renters if they know the dwelling had flood damage at least once in the previous five years.
- Encourage renters to buy flood insurance.
Even if your home isn’t in a flood plain, you might want to consider a policy. Flooding can happen anywhere at any time. Poor drainage systems, broken water mains, neighborhood construction, and summer storms can result in flooding.
- Flood insurance: Why you need a policy
- Renters insurance: What does it cover and how much does it cost?
- Why you need flood insurance (video)
- Why you need renters insurance (video)
September 19, 2022
Before you rent or jump on one of those cute zippy scooters, remember these tips.
- Scooter rental companies don’t cover you in case of accident or injury. Rental agreements give you all liability. That means you could be paying for any damages and injuries, not just your own.
- Home policies usually don’t cover damage from motorized vehicles and your auto policy probably won’t extend to an electric scooter.
- Don’t forget to read your scooter rental agreement before you ride. And to be safe, wear a helmet.
So, what covers scooter accidents? Your health insurance probably will cover your injuries—though it won’t cover anyone in your path.
- Electric scooter insurance: What to know before you hop on
- Does insurance cover ATVs and golf carts?
- Do I need insurance for a motorcycle or moped?
August 11, 2022
If you lease your apartment or home with a roomie, you should each buy your own renters insurance.
Big yikes: Your roommate’s policy won’t pay for your stuff if it’s lost in a robbery or fire. Their policy covers only their belongings.
Renters insurance costs less than $20 a month.
Reasons to buy a policy:
- It pays for your belongings – clothes, electronics, home décor, furniture – if they’re damaged or stolen from your rental home or car and while you’re traveling.
- If you need to move out of your rental home while it’s being repaired, it might pay for rent somewhere else and food.
- It also covers medical expenses and your legal fees if someone is hurt at your place.
If your parents have homeowners insurance, their policy will pay a certain amount to replace your belongings. But it’s likely that renters insurance would probably cover more than the limits of your parents’ homeowners policy. Check with their insurance company to get coverage amounts.
Watch our video featuring tips about college students and insurance.
- Insurance tips – college edition
- Why you need renters insurance (video)
- Renters insurance: What does it cover and how much does it cost?
- Do I need insurance for my self-storage unit?
- Texas law encourages renters to buy flood coverage
August 4, 2022
Many college students live off campus.
But you need to watch out for yourself.
Some money-saving and safety tips:
- Call your health plan to find nearby urgent care centers that are in your plan’s network. This could save you money when you need care.
- Look for the fire alarms and exits in your apartment complex. Some alarms sound a bell. Others have a voice feature telling you where to go if there’s a fire.
- Consider renters insurance. At less than $200 a year, a renters policy can pay to replace your things after a fire or other disaster. It might also pay for you to live somewhere else while repairs are being made.
- Let your auto insurance agent know that you’re back at school. This might save you money.
Hear more expert advice about going back to school in the latest Texas Insurance Podcast.
View podcast Q&A: How college students can stay healthy, safe, and protect their stuff
- Renters insurance: What does it cover and how much does it cost?
- Insurance tips - college edition
- Back-to-school safety
July 28, 2022
When you’re buying a home, you also might be asked if you want a residential service contract. They’re sometimes called a home warranty.
These service contracts are different than home insurance. Insurance pays for damages from events your policy covers like fire or theft.
A residential service contract covers certain items in your home when they break down from normal wear and tear. (Home insurance doesn’t pay for wear and tear.) Depending on your contract, you may get coverage for appliances, such as stoves and refrigerators, to water heaters, electrical and plumbing systems, and even swimming pools.
Residential service contracts can bring peace of mind about the machines and systems that keep your home comfortable. Not all service contracts are the same, though. Remember to carefully read the contract before signing up.
Under Texas law, companies that sell residential service contracts must be licensed by the state.
In our latest video, we spoke with Elizabeth Salinas-Strittmatter with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) about how residential service contracts work.
- List of TDLR-licensed residential service companies
- Five things your home policy won’t cover
- Do you have enough home insurance?
July 22, 2022
If a wildfire damages or destroys your home or car, does insurance apply?
The answer might be vital. The Texas A&M Forest Service shares that Texas has seen over 150,000 wildfires since 2005, with many threatening homes.
Some insurance tips:
- Homeowners insurance will pay to repair or replace your home or property if it is damaged or destroyed in a fire or storm, up to the policy limits. You’ll have to pay your deductible. Damage from an explosion or smoke also is typically covered.
- Check that the limits on your home policy match the cost to rebuild your home. Your agent can help you figure out the rebuild cost and might suggest higher limits. If your limits are too low, you’ll have to pay the extra cost.
- If you can't stay in your home because of damage covered by your policy, your homeowners or renters policy may pay for a hotel or rental. Check your policy for limits on the coverage.
- Your car is covered if you have comprehensive coverage. Some policies will pay for a rental car if yours is damaged.
- Call your agent or read your policy to check details.
- Outdoor burning: What to know before you light the match
- Wildfire risks: Projects to help you protect your home
- How to protect your home from wildfire (video)
- Do you have enough home insurance?
- How to escape from a house fire
- Frequently Asked Questions about Fire/Smoke/Explosion Damage
- Disasters: how to prepare and recover
July 14, 2022
You may have heard; NASA plans a year-long study of reported UFOs.
But did you know home insurance would pay if a spacecraft hit your house?
In the unlikely event a spacecraft damages your home, most home policies would pay for damages. Falling objects is a “covered peril.”
Here’s what else your home policy probably covers—and doesn’t:
- Damages from hail or fire are covered.
- Tornado and inland hurricane damages are covered. If you live near the Gulf Coast, you’ll likely need a separate windstorm policy.
- Most policies cover water damage from leaks and broken pipes, but there are exceptions. Read your policy to see what’s covered.
- Most policies do not cover damage from water that comes from outside your home. You’ll need a separate flood policy.
- Damages from earthquakes are not covered. Neither are termites, wear and tear, and sewer backups.
- Home insurance policies: All risk or named peril
- Tips to help you shop for homeowners insurance
- Does insurance cover water damage caused by burst pipes?
- Homeowners insurance guide
- New home? How to shop for insurance (podcast)
June 23, 2022
Insurance companies often put a hold on approving new policies when a storm is in the Gulf of Mexico.
It can be hard to imagine the drenching rains and powerful winds of a hurricane when a lot of Texas is suffering through drought-like conditions. But today’s high temperatures should be a reminder that some of the strongest hurricanes have formed in the heat of late summer, including Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
Once a named storm enters the Gulf of Mexico, most insurance companies, including the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA), stop selling new policies or making changes to existing ones.
That means you can’t wait until a storm is approaching to think about your insurance coverage, because you won’t be able to buy or change it then!
Of course, this is especially critical for Texans with homes near the Gulf Coast. But the effects of a hurricane, like flooding and tornado force winds, can extend well beyond the coast.
Which leads us to another key point, flood insurance. Most home policies don’t pay for damage from rising flood waters. Most people buy flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program. And unless you’re buying coverage for a new home, these policies don’t go into effect until 30 days after you buy them.
So again, you can’t wait until a storm is coming to ask: “Am I covered?”
- Hurricane season: How to prepare your home and property
- Texas summer storm safety
- Hurricane Preparation Fact Sheet
June 16, 2022
You’re driving home from work, inching along in highway traffic. Then you hear a tornado warning on the radio. Or worse, you see a tornado twisting your way.
Don’t get yourself into that situation!
A National Weather Service expert urges everyone to follow the weather, especially during the spring and summer tornado and hurricane seasons.
If your city or county is under a tornado watch, plan to be inside a building—and not sitting in your car or truck.
Watch “How to stay safe in a tornado” for more tips from the National Weather Service about protecting your family and property from a big storm.
Read our blog post, “Danger, danger! Don’t mix up tornado watches and warnings.”
See our tips: “Are you prepared for a tornado? Here’s how to protect your home.”
May 19, 2022
Having a property title means you own the property and can sell, rent, or transfer ownership of the property. Title insurance protects you against problems with getting a title when you buy property.
Title insurance companies search for problems with a title that need to be corrected before it’s given to you. Possible problems could be:
- Unpaid property taxes.
- Fraud or forgery of a previous deed (the legal document used to transfer the title).
- A spouse or unknown heir who could make a claim against the property.
If there’s a challenge to your ownership later, your title company will handle the dispute.
If you’re borrowing money to buy a property, your lender will require you to buy a Loan Policy of Title Insurance (PDF) to protect their interest.
Otherwise, you can get peace of mind from an owner’s title insurance policy, which lasts for as long as you or your heirs own the property.
TDI sets premium amounts for title insurance policies sold in Texas, so the rates are the same for all title companies. It still might be worth researching title companies. You should make sure the title company is licensed and has good customer reviews. You also might want to check their closing costs, which can vary.
Watch “How does title insurance work?” featuring TDI’s David Muckerheide talking about title insurance.
March 3, 2022
Owning and insuring a home is a big deal. You’ll want to ask questions before you buy.
Here are a few questions that could affect how much you pay for home insurance:
- How far away are emergency services like the fire department? Is it a paid fire station or a volunteer fire department?
- Is the home in an area that has flooded in the past? Flood damage is not covered by most home insurance. You’ll need a separate flood policy to cover rising water.
- Have there been past insurance claims on this home? Ask the owner for a CLUE report; it shows claims filed for a property over recent years.
- Check if the home has features that could reduce the risk of future claims. Is the roof new? Does the home have an alarm system or fire sprinklers? Such safety features could qualify you for an insurance discount.
Hear more on insuring your home in the latest episode of “The Texas Insurance Podcast,” featuring Cindi Bulla, a past chair of Texas Association of Realtors.
View podcast Q&A: New home? How to shop for insurance.
- Home insurance guide
- FAQ: Homeowners insurance, claims, saving money, and more
- Tips to help you shop for homeowners insurance
- How to get a CLUE about your claims history
- Home policies: Replacement cost or actual cash value?
February 2, 2022
Just saying “freeze” can make a Texan flinch. We remember last winter.
But you can take steps to protect your home before temperatures drop.
For starters, wrap indoor pipes with insulation. Wrap your attic pipes first.
And when a freeze happens, you can run water through your indoor faucets – hot and cold – before you go to sleep. Or you can let faucets drip from the cold and hot taps. Be sure to follow your local government’s instructions, which may limit water use.
Hear more about prepping your home from the latest episode of “The Texas Insurance Podcast,” featuring David Yelovich, a Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners board member. The podcast closes with TDI advice on insurance and water-related damage.
December 16, 2021
Last winter’s big freeze left many Texans with frozen pipes.
But by taking simple steps now, you could head off thousands of dollars of water damage to your walls, ceilings, carpets, and furniture.
- Install inexpensive wraps on exposed pipes. Start in the attic, where many Texas homeowners saw pipes freeze last winter.
- Wrap your outdoor faucets.
- Whether you own your home or live in an apartment or condo, identify water shutoff valves indoors and out. This will ready you for cutting off the water if a freeze poses risks.
- Don’t delay preparations until a freeze looms. Act now to ease your worries.
In this TDI video, How to prevent pipes from freezing, an expert with the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners shows several preventive steps you can take (plus, he spots a toad).
- When are water damage and mold covered by insurance?
- Is water damage covered by home insurance? (video)
November 18, 2021
When Winter Storm Uri covered Texas in ice and snow in February 2021, it caused more than $8 billion in insured losses. Texans filed more than 450,000 insurance claims after the storm. A lot of that damage was caused by water from broken pipes.
In our latest video, we asked our Property and Casualty Division what Texans need to know about insurance coverage for water damage.
- Most homeowners policies cover water damage from leaks and broken pipes, but there are exceptions. Always read your policy to see what’s covered.
- If you rent, the owner’s policy won’t cover your furniture, electronics, clothing, or other personal items. Consider buying renters insurance to cover your things.
- If you have a leak, turn the water off at the main and move expensive items off the floor. Your insurer may deny your claim if you don’t protect your property.
- Home and renter’s insurance only cover leaks that happen inside your home. They don’t cover flood damage. You need a separate policy to cover flooding. Visit floodsmart.gov for more information.
For tips about damages caused by issues like burst pipes, see When are Water Damage and Mold Covered by Insurance?
July 29, 2021
No law requires you to have home insurance. But having a policy can protect your investment, giving you peace of mind.
If you have a mortgage, your lender probably requires home insurance.
A new study by the Texas Real Estate Research Center estimates that 4.1% of Texas homeowner households with a mortgage don’t have home insurance. In contrast, 26% of Texas residents who own their homes free and clear of debt lack home insurance—with rural homeowners generally more likely to lack coverage, the study says.
A home policy can help even if your home is paid off. It shields you from facing potentially massive out-of-pocket costs to repair or rebuild if a burst pipe, fire, or other incident wreaks damage.
Questions to ask your agent or insurance company
- What kinds of damages does the home policy cover?
- Does the policy fully cover replacing my house and possessions?
- What’s the premium, what I pay for the policy up front?
- What’s my deductible, what I must pay before the insurance pays anything?
- Do I need additional coverage such as a flood policy?
See more in our new video on common questions about home insurance.
July 27, 2021
Starting a business? You may have new insurance needs even if you’re working from home.
Texans are starting businesses at a faster clip. More than 250,000 businesses launched in the state the first half of 2021 — up from 152,000 the first half of 2020, according to federal statistics.
If you’re starting a business at home, your homeowner’s policy might not cover your equipment, products, or injuries to employees and customers. Some coverages worth exploring:
- Coverage of expensive equipment, special tools, or inventory.
- Business interruption coverage to make up for lost income if your business is put on hold after a break-in, storm, or fire.
- Data breach or cyber liability coverage — especially if you store anyone’s personal data.
- A commercial auto policy if you make deliveries or regularly need to pick up supplies.
- Workers’ compensation coverage, additional liability coverage, or an umbrella liability policy in case an employee or customer has an accident in your home.
Ask your agent or insurance company if you can bundle coverages into a business policy to save money.
Read our updated tips: What insurance do I need to run a business from home?
Watch our video on what you need to know about business insurance.
July 9, 2021
Home improvement is a never-ending adventure. We’ve got ideas for July projects to help you make progress without breaking a sweat.
Shop around: Even if you aren’t building or remodeling, higher construction costs may mean you need to increase your homeowners insurance policy limits. We talked to the Insurance Council of Texas about ways to lower your costs.
- Use HelpInsure.com to get sample rates for your area. It includes information on homeowners, renters, and auto insurance.
- Look at your deductible and think about how much you can afford to pay if your home is damaged. Switching from a $500 deductible to a $1,000 deductible can save as much as 20% on the cost of your premium.
- Watch the full interview for more tips.
Make a home inventory: Having a list of what you own will help if you need to file an insurance claim after a disaster. You can start by taking photos or a video of each room. There are also apps to help you put together a home inventory.
- July 15: The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety talks about building and remodeling projects that can reduce the risk of damage to your home. Watch video
- July 29: We searched Google for the most common questions about home insurance. We’ll go over the answers with one of our TDI experts. Watch video
July 8, 2021
The cost of lumber tripled in the past year. We talked to the executive director of the Insurance Council of Texas about how construction costs factor into what you pay for homeowners insurance.
Insurance covers the cost to rebuild your home after a disaster. As construction costs increase, it’s important to adjust your policy limits. While you might be tempted to save money by getting less coverage when you renew your policy, that could mean higher out-of-pocket costs for you if your home is damaged or destroyed.
To look for the best deal on insurance, shop around with HelpInsure.com. Texas has more than 160 homeowners insurance companies, so smart shoppers will take advantage of the competition. And check out discounts for bundling or smart home technology.
Watch this video to see what construction costs mean for your homeowners insurance and for tips to keep your insurance costs down.
June 22, 2021
The rapper Logic was just as surprised as we were when his rare Pokémon card sold for nearly $200,000 at an auction this year. Even if you’re not that lucky, you might have other valuable antiques, toys, coins, or memorabilia sitting around. Maybe they could fetch a pretty penny.
But do you have insurance for them if they’re stolen or damaged? Most home and renters policies won’t cover them or limit what they pay for collectibles. But you can buy extra coverage.
We’d hate for your prized Babe Ruth card to get stolen. But we’d hate it even more if you didn’t have insurance to get paid back.
June 21, 2021
Texans typically use the heat index instead of the calendar to mark the arrival of summer. Whether you wait for a 100-degree day or the official summer solstice, summer is here. Stay cool, Texas. We’ve got ideas to beat the heat and make sure your investment is insured.
Hit the road: RV sales are skyrocketing. If you’re part of this growing trend, watch our video to understand how insurance works for your home on wheels.
Hit the pool: Thinking about adding a pool or outdoor kitchen to your home? Yes, please! It’s a big investment, so talk to your insurance agent or company about getting the right coverage.
Hit the lake: With thousands of lakes and 367 miles of coastline, no wonder Texas is home to more than half a million recreational boats. If you have a small boat, your homeowners insurance may include enough coverage. To make sure, check our tips on boat insurance.
June 10, 2021
Your home lender may only require flood insurance if you live in an area at high risk of flooding, but we all live in a floodplain. We talked to a FEMA expert about how flood insurance works and why you may need it.
Check FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center to see if you live in or near a flood hazard area. But as the FEMA expert explained, even those living outside high risk areas may flood. He said as many as 65% of disaster assistance claims for flood damage have come from people living outside areas designated as flood hazard areas.
He also explained the limits of disaster assistance. It’s not a substitute for flood insurance. First, you can only get disaster assistance after a disaster declaration. And disaster assistance is designed to help you get back on your feet – to make your home livable – but not to rebuild it as it was before. For that, you need flood insurance.
Just one inch of water can cause $26,000 of damage to a home. To make sure you’re protected, ask your insurance agent or company about flood insurance.
May 26, 2021
Hurricane Laura, a powerful Category 4 storm, left a path of destruction across Louisiana last year and caused 15 deaths. Eight came after the storm, caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from portable generators.
Sheletta Brundidge’s relatives were among the victims. They rode out the hurricane but lost power after the storm. Five family members gathered in one home with a generator running in the garage. As they slept, the garage door blew shut. The home didn’t have a carbon monoxide detector to alert them to the deadly fumes filling the home. They never woke up.
Carbon monoxide kills more than 400 Americans each year and is responsible for 20,000 emergency room visits, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We talked to Sheletta and an expert with our State Fire Marshal’s Office about the proper use of generators, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, and the importance of carbon monoxide detectors. Watch the interview and check out our tips to protect your family.
May 20, 2021
Hurricane season in Texas means the potential for strong storms and flooding. The season starts on June 1, but you can start now to make sure your home and family are ready.
We talked to the Texas Department of Emergency Management to get some tips.
Gabriela Stermolle says we should put together a disaster kit with food, water, important documents, and pet supplies in case we need to leave the house fast.
We can also make our houses storm ready and think about flood insurance. But don’t wait too long: it takes 30 days for flood insurance to take effect.
Watch our interview for more tips to help you prepare for hurricane season.
Learn more about preparing and flood insurance: Before the storm.
May 18, 2021
Lumber prices are through the roof. Even if you aren’t buying or building a house, you might feel the sting of inflation. Higher rebuilding costs may mean higher insurance costs.
Will my premium go up?
Probably. The price of lumber tripled over the last year, adding about $36,000 to the average cost of building a house, according to the National Association of Home Builders. The prices of other building materials are also up.
When renewing your policy, your insurance company will calculate what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s prices to determine how much insurance you need. If the costs are higher, your company will increase your policy limits.
Why is my insured value different than my appraisal?
Your property’s appraised value includes the cost of your land and factors in how much homes are selling for in your neighborhood. The insured value is the cost to rebuild or replace your home.
Do I have to increase my policy limits?
Some insurance companies require you to insure at least 80% of the cost to rebuild your home. If you have a home loan, your mortgage company will probably require you to have enough insurance to pay off your loan in case of a disaster.
If you do have the option of insuring your property for a lower value, think about how you’d make up the difference if your home was destroyed or damaged. Most insurers will prorate claim payments based on the amount of coverage you have. For example, let’s say the cost to rebuild your home is $200,000, but you only insured it up to $120,000 – or 60% of the replacement cost. Your insurance company may only pay up to 60% of the repair cost for any damage to your home, minus your deductible.
How can I lower my costs?
You could consider increasing your deductible. This will lower your premium payment. When deciding what deductible is right for you, think about how much you can afford to pay if your property is damaged.
You can also use HelpInsure.com to compare sample rates for different companies.
May 6, 2021
Texas has already seen damaging spring storms across the state – including what may be a record hailstone in Hondo. Imagine what hail the size of honeydew melon could do to your home.
Our latest podcast explains how to start the claim process, what to if you disagree with your insurance company’s decision, and how to avoid contracting scams.
If your home has storm damage, file a claim as soon as you can. Don’t throw away damaged items until you talk to your insurance company or adjuster. But make temporary repairs to protect your home from more damage – cover broken windows and holes in your roof. Keep the repair receipts. Your policy may cover the costs.
In our podcast, we also share tips from the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas. They’ll tell you to how to find a qualified contractor for repairs.
Help after the storm has more information about claims and repairs.
April 29, 2021
In 2011, the most destructive wildfire in Texas history destroyed more than 1,600 homes in Bastrop County. A decade later, wildfires continue to pose a risk to much of Texas – and the risk increases as population expands into wilderness areas.
You can use the Texas Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal to check the wildfire risk for your home. Just enter your address, and you’ll get a look at the risk for your property and the surrounding area. Then listen to our interview with the Texas A&M Forest Service about what you can do to reduce those risks and protect your home.
For more tips, see Wildfire risks: Projects to help you protect your home.
April 23, 2021
The hot housing market is making headlines across Texas. But it’s not just sales prices that are going up. Construction costs are also on the rise. That National Association of Home Builders reports that lumber prices are up 180% over last year. It’s a good time to review your insurance policy to make sure you have enough coverage after a fire or disaster.
For more information, see Do you have enough home insurance?
April 15, 2021
The Texas housing market is hotter than the habanero you didn’t know was in those nachos.
With fewer houses on the market and low interest rates, houses in Austin, Dallas, Houston, and other parts of the state are selling in days and often above the asking price. It’s a seller’s dream, and a buyer’s nightmare. If you don’t make a quick offer, you may lose out. But is that house hiding a maintenance problem?
One way to protect yourself is to ask the property owner for a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report. A CLUE report shows the insurance claims filed for a property for the past seven years. An insurance company will check the report and use the claims history as a factor in deciding how much you’ll pay for homeowners insurance.
For more information, including how to request a report, visit How to get a CLUE about your claims history.
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