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Weather and storms

July 10, 2024

Power out, food spoiled? Your insurance might help.

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If you lose power and the food in your refrigerator spoils, can your insurance help?

Possibly.

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.

Learn more


July 5, 2024

How to prepare for Beryl

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Beryl may bring strong winds and rain to Texas this weekend. Here’s how you can prepare:

1. Invest in a weather radio

Have a way to get updates if cell services or power lines go down. Many weather radios now work as backup power banks with ports to plug in your phone and with solar and crank handles to recharge the battery.

2. Add your agent to your phone contacts

Put your agent and insurance company in the contact list on your phone. Make copies of important documents, such as your policy’s declaration page and auto and health ID cards and email them to yourself so you can get to them if you have to evacuate.

3. Prepare your home

  • Remove dead tree limbs and branches that hang over your house.
  • Check for items that can become windborne, such as yard furniture or trampolines, and tie them down or bring them inside.
  • Clean gutters to let the water drain faster.
  • Close doors to keep your roof on.
  • If you plan on using a generator if the power goes out, make sure you have enough fuel. If you haven’t used it in a while, make sure it starts.

4. Be ready to evacuate

  • Pack a bag with your insurance policies, home inventory, health plan cards, medication, water, and food in case you need to leave your house.
  • If you have pets, make sure you have their vaccination records, food, water, leash, collar, tags, and crate.
  • Keep your gas tank full.
  • Plan an evacuation and a backup evacuation route.
  • Let family members know where you’ll meet if you need to evacuate.

5. Listen to the news

Follow any evacuation orders from your local government.

Learn more


June 19, 2024

When a storm enters the Gulf, it’s too late to ask: ‘Do I have enough insurance?’

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Gulf of Mexico

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.

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?”

Learn more


May 24, 2024

Experts predict an active hurricane season. Use our tips to prepare.

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Hurricane map

Texas has been hit by more than 25 major hurricanes
over the years (NOAA illustration).

Click on image to enlarge

Texas and the U.S. could be in for a busy hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that 17 to 25 named storms could develop over the Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Eight to 13 of the storms could develop into hurricanes, NOAA says, four to seven of them major storms.

Colorado State University experts expect 23 named storms, including 11 hurricanes, five of them major storms. They warn there’s an 80% chance that a named storm hits Texas this hurricane season.

The good news is that Texans have time now to prepare.

Some tips:

  • Consider buying flood insurance. Flood damage isn’t usually covered by your home insurance. Don’t wait long: It typically takes 30 days for flood policies to take effect.
  • Write a family disaster plan. Start on the TexasReady.gov website
  • Decide where and how far you’ll go if you evacuate.
  • Build a “go-kit” with food, medicine, clothes, pet food, and other vital supplies.
  • Make a room-by-room home inventory. This could help later if you file a claim.

Learn more

Plan to be safe before a hurricane hits Texas

Hurricane season: How to prepare your home and property

Flood insurance: Why you need a policy

Before the storm


May 17, 2024

Does insurance cover fallen tree branches?

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Will insurance pay when a tree crashes down on your car or house?

Sometimes.

If a tree or branch 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.

Learn more


May 10, 2024

Can I make an insurance claim for additional living expenses?

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Texans with flood damage might be wondering if their homeowner policies pay for hotels, food, and other expenses if they need to leave during repairs.

When do policies pay for additional living expenses?

Homeowners and renters policies may cover additional living expenses if you can’t stay in your home because it was damaged by an event that’s covered in your policy.

For example, you need to move out during repairs because a tornado damaged your house, and your home policy covers tornadoes.

If you left your house because of a power outage or evacuation – and your home wasn’t damaged – your policy won’t cover additional living expenses.

Does my home policy cover floods?

Most home policies don’t cover floods.

Some people buy flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). But NFIP policies don’t pay for additional living expenses.

If your home policy includes flood coverage, it probably will pay for additional living expenses.

Call your agent or company to ask if you have a NFIP flood policy or have flood coverage in your home policy.

Learn more


April 9, 2024

Danger, danger! Don’t mix up tornado watches and warnings

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Ever mix up a tornado watch with a tornado warning?

Big difference!

  • A tornado watch means keep an eye out for a possible tornado.
  • A tornado warning means a tornado’s been spotted in your city or county.

Tornado warning in your area? Take cover.

People in a warning zone need to take cover immediately. If you’re in a vehicle, trailer, or mobile home, leave and head to the closest building if you have time.

If you’re in a house or building, go to an interior room, bathroom, or closet on the lowest level. Cover yourself with blankets, towels, or a mattress to stay safe from falling debris. Never open windows; it doesn’t help equalize pressure. But you should shut all your doors because that will help reduce the chance that your roof will blow off.

If you’re driving, don’t stop under bridges or overpasses. They don’t offer protection from tornadic winds or flying debris. If you can’t get to a building, lie flat and face down in the nearest ditch or depression. Cover your head with your hands.

Tornado watch in your area? Get ready.

Tune in to your local weather report to keep track of the tornado watch. Get ready to move to a safe space.

A tornado watch area is often large, covering counties, even states.

If you are under a tornado watch:

  • Review your emergency plans.
  • Bring in or secure outdoor objects that might blow around.
  • Check supplies, such as batteries, flashlights, water, non-perishable food, and medicines.
  • Identify your safe room.

Summing up: A tornado watch means get ready. A tornado warning means move quickly to safety.

Learn more


April 4, 2024

Do you need flood insurance as a renter?

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If you rent your home or apartment, you may have bought renters insurance to protect your belongings from theft, fire, or damage from a burst pipe.

But there’s more to consider. Renters policies typically don’t pay for losses due to floods. But a flood insurance policy could.

If a flood causes damage or loss, your flood policy covers personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, electronics, kitchenware, and curtains.

A flood policy doesn’t cover cash, precious metals, stock certificates, and other valuable papers. A policy also doesn’t cover cars, trucks, or personal property kept in a basement.

Shop before storm season. It typically takes 30 days for a flood policy to take effect.

Ask your insurance 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 877-336-2627.

Learn more


March 14, 2024

Any place can flood. Do you have flood insurance?

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It can rain and flood anywhere. And most home insurance policies don’t cover flood damage. You might want to buy flood insurance.

One inch of water in a home or apartment can cause up to $26,000 in damage.

To shop for coverage, talk to your insurance provider. If they don’t offer a flood policy, go online to floodsmart.gov to find providers.

A flood policy takes effect 30 days after purchase. It’s wise to shop before hurricane season, which begins June 1.

Get expert advice on flood insurance in this Texas Insurance Podcast.

Learn more


December 15, 2023

Ways to stay safe during cold weather

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Wintry conditions could lead more Texans to rely on space heaters and other ways to stay warm. The Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office shares these tips to stay safe.

Caution with space heaters

In the last few years, several fatal fires in Texas were started by space heaters. Here are tips for keeping your family safe.

  • Inspect a heater before you use it. Make sure there are no cracked or broken plugs or loose connections.
  • Always plug space heaters directly into a wall outlet. Don’t use extension cords or power strips.
  • Keep your space heater at least three feet from anything that can burn.
  • Turn off your space heaters before you leave the room or go to bed. Look for models that shut off automatically when tipped over.

Avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Cars, trucks, stoves, grills, fireplaces, and many appliances that burn fuel can generate carbon monoxide. You can’t see or smell it, but if enough builds up, it can be deadly.

If there’s too much carbon monoxide nearby, you may feel short of breath, have a headache, or feel dizziness, nausea, or weakness.

Use these tips to protect your family from carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.
  • Never leave a car or truck running in a garage.
  • Never use a charcoal grill or portable camping stove inside.
  • Never use a portable generator in your home or garage, even if doors and windows are open. Only use these devices outdoors, and more than 20 feet away from open doors or windows.
  • Never use a stove to heat your home.
  • When using a fireplace, make sure first that the flue is open.
  • If your carbon monoxide or smoke alarm go off, do not ignore it. When the alarm sounds, make sure everyone goes outdoors. Call 9-1-1 and stay outdoors until emergency responders say it’s safe to go back in.

Resources


August 3, 2023

Coastal Texans can turn to TWIA for hail, windstorm coverage

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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.

Learn more


May 2, 2023

Plan to be safe before a hurricane hits Texas

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The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) regularly leads the state’s response to natural disasters including summer storms and hurricanes.

It also wants Texans to plan ahead to stay safe.

For instance, it’s a good idea to keep emergency “go-kits”— basic disaster supplies including food, water, medicine, clothes, and other vital items — in your home, office, and car.

Also wise: Settle with family members ahead of time where you’re going to go if a bad storm hits. And if you think you might need flood insurance, shop before you hear a scary weather forecast. It takes 30 days for a flood policy to take effect.

View podcast Q&A: How to prepare for hurricane season

Learn more


April 6, 2023

Prepare your home and family for spring Texas storms

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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

Learn more


March 22, 2023

Federal loans available to Texans hit by January storms, tornadoes

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Click image for larger map.

Residents and businesses in 13 East Texas counties hit hard by storms and tornadoes on January 24 can now apply for low-interest disaster loans.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is offering loans to businesses, nonprofits, homeowners, and renters with damaged or destroyed property in these counties: Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Hardin, Harris, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Montgomery, Newton, Orange, and Waller.

Businesses and nonprofits can borrow up to $2 million, homeowners can borrow up to $200,000 to repair or replace real estate, and homeowners and renters can borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace personal property and cars. Learn more about the amounts.

You can apply online at sba.gov or by visiting these Disaster Loan Outreach Centers. No appointment is necessary.

Pasadena: Convention Center 
7902 Fairmont Pkwy 
Monday to Friday: 7 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. 

Pasadena: John Phelps Courthouse Annex
101 S. Richey Street, Suite #F
Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

The deadline to apply for a loan to repair or replace property is May 16. For more information, call the SBA at 800-659-2955.


January 30, 2023

Even experienced drivers need reminders about driving in winter weather

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Bad weather and sloppy roads cause nearly a half a million auto accidents and more than 2,000 deaths each winter according to AAA.

Don’t feel helpless on your drive and prepare for bad road conditions. Here are some winter weather driving safety tips:

  • Keep cold weather items like ice scrapers, blankets, gloves, and layered clothing in your vehicle.
  • Maintain an emergency kit for your vehicle with a cell phone charger, flashlight, battery-operated radio, and jumper cables.
  • Inflate your tires correctly and make sure there is tread.
  • Check to see if your battery is in good shape.
  • Never warm up your vehicle in an enclosed area like a garage or place with poor ventilation. This will put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and death.
  • Avoid using cruise control in slippery road conditions.

In TDI’s Texas Insurance podcast, we talk to Sonja Gross from the Texas Department of Transportation about what Texans should know before driving in winter weather.

Before starting a trip, visit DriveTexas.org to see if roads are closed due to weather conditions.

Listen to our podcast for winter safety driving tips.


January 17, 2023

Texas law encourages renters to buy flood coverage

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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 most 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 877-336-2627.

Landlords are now required to:

  • 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.

Learn more


June 16, 2022

Tips to avoid a tornado: Follow weather reports

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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 18, 2022

Federal loans available to Texas homeowners, businesses, renters hit by March storms, tornadoes

Map of Texas with disaster counties highlighted

Click on image to enlarge

Residents and businesses in more than 40 Texas counties hit hard by storms and tornadoes on March 21 can now apply for low-interest disaster loans.

Assistance through the Small Business Administration (SBA) is available in these counties: Anderson, Angelina, Archer, Bastrop, Bell, Burnet, Caldwell, Camp, Cherokee, Clay, Collin, Cooke, Denton, Fannin, Fayette, Grayson, Gregg, Harrison, Houston, Jack, Lee, Leon, Madison, Marion, Milam, Montague, Morris, Nacogdoches, Palo Pinto, Parker, Rusk, San Augustine, Shelby, Smith, Travis, Trinity, Upshur, Walker, Williamson, Wise, Wood, and Young.

Loans are available to homeowners, businesses of all sizes, most private nonprofit organizations, and renters whose property was damaged or destroyed by the storms or tornadoes.

Five Disaster Loan Outreach Centers are open with SBA customer service representative to help answer questions. No appointment is necessary.

Bastrop County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Bastrop County Tax Annex
1125 Dildy Drive
Elgin, TX  78621
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Closes at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26

Houston County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Crockett Civic Center
Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Board Room
1100 Edmiston Drive
Crockett, TX  75835
Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Closes at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 26

Montague County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Montague County Courthouse
Old County Courthouse – Third Floor
11339 State Highway 59 N
Montague, TX  76251
Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closes at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 26

Nacogdoches County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Cushing Volunteer Fire Department
783 Walnut Ave.
Cushing, TX  75760
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Closes at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 26

Upshur County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Upshur County Courthouse
100 West Tyler St.
Old Commissioners Meeting Room – Third Floor
Gilmer, TX  75644
Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Closes at 5 p.m. Thursday, May 26

SBA representatives are also available to meet with residents in Jacksboro (Jack County) and Jarrell (Williamson County).

Jack County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Jack County Courthouse
100 North Main St.
Jacksboro, TX  76458
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Close date to be determined. 

Williamson County
Disaster Loan Outreach Center
Wayfinders Church
508 North Fifth St.
Jarrell, TX  76537
Monday - Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Close date to be determined.

Loan applicants can apply online, get more disaster assistance information, and download applications on the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website. Applicants can also contact SBA’s Customer Service Center for more information at 800-659-2955 or disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

People who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability should dial 7-1-1 to access relay services.

For more detail, including possible loan amounts, read the SBA’s press release.


May 5, 2022

Will your car’s rubber tires keep you safe from a lightning strike?

True or false: Your car’s rubber tires will protect you if lightning strikes your car.

False!

John Jensenius of the National Lightning Safety Council says it’s the type of car – not the tires – that protect you from lightning. You’re the safest in a hard-topped vehicle. When lightning hits, he says, the shock gets dispersed by your car’s metal shell and keeps the people inside safe.

Tire twist: If your car or truck has steel-belted tires, a lightning strike can blow them out.

Learn more from Jensenius about staying safe from lightning on the latest episode of the Texas Insurance Podcast.

View podcast Q&A: How to stay safe from lightning

Learn more


March 31, 2022

Staying safe when lightning strikes

In any given year, your odds of getting struck by lightning are one in 1.5 million. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? But across your lifetime, the odds don’t look that great – they go to one in 1,800. Of course, the odds of you getting hit go higher if you ignore the dangers of thunderstorms.

Heed these tips and avoid zaps from the sky:

  • If you’re outdoors and you see lightning or hear thunder, enter a sturdy building or get inside a car and close the windows.
  • Stay away from utility poles and metal fences. And get out of cars with soft tops, tractors, and motorcycles.
  • Don’t lie flat on the ground or in a ditch. Run to the nearest building or car. If your hair stands on end, squat down, and put your head between your knees.
  • If you’re indoors, stay away from windows, plugged-in appliances, computers, and power tools. And don’t take a shower or bath, wash dishes, or stand near plumbing; water pipes conduct electricity.

There are also ways to protect your house from lightning.

Homeowners can invest in a lightning protection system, which has three parts:

  1. Lightning rod: Intercepts the lightning.
  2. Down conductor: Takes energy from the lightning down the side of the building.
  3. Ground terminals or grounding rods: Takes the energy from the down conductor and puts it deep into the ground.

If you want to install a lightning protection system, hire a professional certified by the Lightning Protection Institute.

In our latest This Is TDI video, John Jensenius of the National Lightning Safety Council talks about:  

  • Common outdoor activities that put people at risk of being struck by lightning.
  • The odds of getting struck.
  • How to protect your home.

Learn more


February 24, 2022

Driving on slick streets? What to do if you’re in a wreck

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If you must drive in dangerously icy or slick conditions, remember to proceed with caution.

And what if you’re in a wreck? 

First, make sure that nobody is hurt. 

After that, you’ll want to reach out to your auto insurance company. If you need help filing a claim, contact us at 800-252-3439.

Some tips about making your insurance claim after a wreck: 

More: Will your auto insurance pay after a hit-and-run crash?


February 2, 2022

Another Texas freeze in forecast? Podcast has steps to protect your home.

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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.


January 28, 2022

Texas town listed as the US lightning strike capital

Texas again topped all states in lightning strikes last year, according to a recent report (PDF). And Flatonia in Central Texas was the nation’s lightning strike capital.

Lightning struck nearly 42 million times in Texas, according to information from the U.S. National Lightning Detection Network. Florida, Louisiana and Oklahoma were next to see the greatest number of strikes, 15 million or less.

Ahem: Texas always leads in lightning strikes, it turns out, due in part to its size and southwestern location.

We were shocked (excuse us) to learn Flatonia, in Fayette County, is the nation’s lightning capital with 1,043 lightning “events” per square mile. See 2021 United States lightning capitals (PDF).

This is no time to get jumpy. Check out TDI’s tips on protecting yourself from lightning.


December 16, 2021

Avoid frozen pipes and costly water damage by taking steps now

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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.

Key tips

  • 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).

Learn more


November 18, 2021

Does insurance cover water damage caused by burst pipes?

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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?

There are also steps you can take to protect you home and property from winter damage.


June 10, 2021

You live in a floodplain

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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.

To learn more, go to FloodSmart.gov or review these tips.


June 3, 2021

Hurricane season brings many dangers

Podcast: Preparing for hurricane season

Hurricane season is here, and it looks like 2021 will be a dangerous one. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts three to five major hurricanes and a host of smaller storms.

Listen to our podcast for more information on what to expect during the 2021 hurricane season, including tips for staying safe during and after a storm.

We’ll help you prepare your house for hurricane season and explain how to put together a hurricane “go kit” with everything you’ll need if you evacuate your home. We also share lifesaving tips for generator use that can help you avoid carbon monoxide poisoning after a storm.


May 20, 2021

Start preparing now for 2021 hurricane season

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 13, 2021

A look at the 2021 hurricane season

Tropical storm Andres made news this week as the earliest named storm to ever develop in the Pacific Ocean. If it’s a year for surprises, what can we expect for the Atlantic hurricane season? We talked to the National Weather Service to find out.

Paul Yura said the 2021 forecast will probably be like recent years. He also explained that rip currents and improper generator use can lead to more deaths than storm winds.

Watch our interview for tips to prepare for the hurricane season, which begins June 1. For bonus science points, you’ll also learn about Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and how it affects hurricane activity!

For more tips, see Before the storm.


May 6, 2021

Tips to help with storm claims, recovery

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 15, 2021

What FEMA covers and how to apply

Are you still dealing with repairs or extra expenses from the February winter storms? Homeowners and renters who have damage or other storm-related costs not covered by insurance can apply for federal disaster assistance. To learn more about what FEMA covers and how to apply, we talked to FEMA’s Kurt Pickering. (Update: The application deadline was extended to May 20 after we posted the interview.)

FEMA may cover expenses beyond repairs to your home. Help also may be available for temporary housing, to repair storm damage to your primary car, for extra child-care expenses, or to replace medications or medical supplies.

FEMA rental assistance may be available if you need to rent a different place while repairs are made to your rental home. Rental grants may be used for security deposits, rent, and utilities. FEMA can also help renters replace or repair damaged personal property, such as furniture, appliances, clothing, school supplies, and job-related equipment.

To apply, visit DisasterAssistance.gov or call 800-621-3362.


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