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The Texas Insurance Blog

June 13, 2024

Lighting a fire? Heed these Texas safety tips.


Remember to stay safe every time you light an outdoor fire.

Some Texas tips:

  • Check with your city and county about burn bans and local rules for outdoor fires. The Texas A&M Forest Service’s map lists county burn bans.
  • Statewide, Texas limits outdoor burning to campfires, bonfires, fire pits, cooking fires—and household trash fires on your home property and only if you don’t have trash pickup.
  • Avoid starting an outdoor burn on dry, windy days.
  • Always stay by your fire until it’s out.
  • Keep water and a shovel and rake handy to douse the fire if it starts to spread.

Listen: The state fire marshal, Debra Knight, talks about summer fire safety on the Texas Insurance podcast.

Learn more

May 30, 2024

Your insurance might pay for at-home COVID-19 tests


The federal government no longer mails free COVID-19 tests to your home. But you can buy your own tests.

  • Some health plans will pay you back for COVID-19 tests you buy at the store or online. Save your receipts.
  • Ask your health plan:
    • If it will pay to reimburse you for COVID-19 tests and for how many.
    • What steps you have to take to get paid back (reimbursement).


May 24, 2024

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


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 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 20, 2024

Does my roommate’s renters insurance cover my stuff?

Insurance advice college edition


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.

Learn more

May 17, 2024

Does insurance cover fallen tree branches?


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


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?


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

Recovery tips

May 9, 2024

Hurricane season starts in May? Prepare now.


Hurricane season starts June 1, right?

Maybe officially, but not anymore, according to Dan Reilly, a Texas-based National Weather Service meteorologist. “In most of the recent years, we’ve had many storms, before June” Reilly said. “So, in reality, I would say hurricane season probably starts in May.”

Protect your family and property by preparing now.

A few tips:

  • Make or update your home inventory. Take pictures or videos of each room in your home. For major items, write down the serial number, what you paid, and date you bought it. Don’t forget to get a video of items inside closets and drawers. Having a home inventory is one of the best things you can do to make sure you get the value of your claim.
  • Have an emergency kit packed and ready to go. Set aside 3 gallons of water per person, enough to last three days. Also pack non-perishable food, a can opener and utensils, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight and extra batteries. See a full kit list at Put some water and food supplies in your car too, just in case.
  • Check your roof. Damaged shingles or leaks around chimneys or skylights will get worse in a storm. Have a professional secure loose shingles and check the metal flashing around openings or on roof valleys for leaks.
  • Get your yard ready. Remove dead tree limbs and branches that hang over your house. Check for loose items that can become windborne such as yard furniture or trampolines. Tie them down.

For more tips, watch the Texas Insurance podcast.

Learn more

April 11, 2024

Unexpected indoor waterfall? Home or renters insurance might help.


A pipe bursts—or a toilet overflows or a washer hose breaks.

Good news: Your home or renters insurance policy covers sudden and accidental water damage. Your personal belongings are covered too.

Also, if mold develops on a damaged item, it would be covered.

Still, policies usually won’t cover damage from gradual leaks or seepage—and that includes damage from mold.

Mold from a flood wouldn’t be covered because home policies don’t cover floods. You would need a separate flood policy.

If you have a sudden leak, shut your water off at the main. Move expensive items off the floor. Your insurer may deny your claim if you don’t protect your property.

One more tip: You can always check what’s covered by reading your policy or calling your agent.

Listen to this Texas Insurance Podcast to hear expert advice on insurance and water damage.

Learn more

April 9, 2024

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


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?



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

April 3, 2024

Auto and home insurance rate changes

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.

Private passenger auto average rate change

Average statewide personal auto rate changes since 2012: 2012 was 4.6%, 2013 was 4.2%, 2014 was 3.5%, 2015 was 6.1%, 2016 was 9.0%, 2017 was 9.0%, 2018 was 1.8%, 2019 was -1.3%, 2020 was -1.9%, 2021 was 2.9%, 2022 was 23.8%,

graph showing average statewide rate changes for auto insurance
Source: TDI rate filing data

Homeowners average rate change

Average statewide personal auto rate changes since 2012: 2012 was 12.9%, 2013 was 6.6%, 2014 was 2.6%, 2015 was 3.7%, 2016 was 2.6%, 2017 was 4.8%, 2018 was 5.9%, 2019 was 4.2%, 2020 was 3.8%, 2021 was 5.9%, 2022 was 10.8%,

graph showing average statewide rate changes for homeowners insurance
Source: TDI rate filing data

Note: includes rate changes for owner-occupied homeowners, tenants, condos, and mobile homeowners policies.

What’s the difference between a premium and a rate?

Premium – The amount you pay to an insurance company for an insurance policy.

Rate – The cost of insurance per exposure unit ($1,000 of home coverage or one year of auto coverage).

Example – A gallon of gas costs $3.50. I pay $49 to fill up my car’s 14-gallon gas tank. The premium is $49. It’s the rate ($3.50) times the unit (14 gallons).

Learn more

How are your auto and homeowners insurance costs calculated?

March 27, 2024

Buying a house? Beware of seller impersonation fraud.


One of the fastest-growing real estate scams targets vacant or unoccupied houses for sale.

It starts with someone forging documents to sell a house they don’t own. They list a house below market value and accept a quick offer – with a preference towards cash buyers – to steal the money from the sale.

Put your guard up if a seller:

  • Tells your agent they only want a cash buyer.
  • Doesn’t show up for closing or asks to sign documents electronically.
  • Asks for a remote notary at signing and wants to use their own notary.
  • Asks that the money from the sale go directly to them.

Some tips:

  • Visit the house you want in person. Only the real homeowner can give your agent the key.
  • Ask your agent to use a trusted in-person notary at closing.
  • Buy title insurance. Your real estate agent will likely recommend it and your mortgage company will probably require it. Title insurance protects you from problems with an ownership title.

Report fraud to the Texas Attorney General, the Federal Trade Commission, and your local police.

Learn more

March 26, 2024

Insurance tips for new graduates


If you’re graduating and moving into your own house or apartment, there’s a lot to consider. Here’s what you need to know about insurance.

a group of new graduates throwing caps into the air

Protect your stuff: Renters insurance pays for your clothes, furniture, electronics, and other belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by a fire or other cause. Most renters policies also pay for your belongings if they’re stolen from your car.

Shop for auto insurance: If you need your own auto insurance, use TDI’s to compare rates and policies. Then ask several companies for quotes. Also ask if you qualify for any discounts.

Finding health insurance: If you have a job that offers health insurance, that’s great. Be sure to ask if your doctors are in its network to avoid a big bill. Also look at the plan’s website to find hospitals and urgent care centers near you for when you need a doctor after hours.

Learn more

March 14, 2024

Any place can flood. Do you have flood insurance?


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 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

March 13, 2024

Did your Marketplace plan change without your consent?


Woman in front of computer.

Open Enrollment to apply for, renew, or change a Marketplace health plan ended January 16. But some consumers are now learning they were enrolled in a Marketplace plan without their knowledge.

If you have this issue, report a complaint to the Department of Health and Human Service’s Marketplace.

Contact’s Marketplace Call Center at 800-318-2596. You can reach Marketplace representatives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (except holidays). resources

March 4, 2024

Do you need insurance experience to work for TDI? No.

True or false? You must have an insurance background to work for the Texas Department of Insurance.


TDI has wide-ranging job opportunities. Recent job openings include those for attorney, investigator, actuary, auditor, programming, and accounting positions.

Sign up to get emails of TDI job postings

Isela Mata of TDI’s Human Resources office talks about why Texans of all stripes should consider working for the department in our video, A variety of job opportunities available.

Learn more

Thinking about a new job? Don’t forget the insurance.

February 29, 2024

Texas wildfires: Insurance can cover home, auto damages.


Your insurance can apply if a wildfire damages or destroys your home or car.

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.
  • 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.

Questions? Call the Texas Department of Insurance’s Help Line at 800-252-3439, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Learn more

February 8, 2024

How to file your insurance claim


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.

Learn more

January 30, 2024

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


Every 43 seconds someone in the U.S. is involved in a hit-and-run accident. We hope it never happens to you, but statistics show it’s something that unfortunately happens a lot. So, what can you do?

Make sure you have the right auto coverage to repair your car.

In Texas, the law requires you to have liability insurance, but that won’t pay to repair your car after an accident. Liability insurance only pays to repair the other person’s car if you’re at fault in an accident.

To get your car repaired, you’ll need a car insurance policy with collision coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) property damage coverage. Both pay for car repairs after a hit-and-run accident. UM/UIM coverage usually has a lower deductible than collision coverage and may pay for a rental car if you need it.

If you don’t have collision or UM/UIM coverage, consider asking your agent how much they would cost to add to your policy. Read about other coverages you might need in our Auto insurance guide.

Also read: Were you in a wreck? Tips for auto insurance claims

January 12, 2024

Power out, food spoiled? Your insurance might help.


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.

Learn more

January 11, 2024

Shopping and saving on Texas auto insurance


Your auto insurance is up for renewal and you want to lower your costs.

Here are some ways to reduce your premium:

  • Seek discounts. You may be missing available discounts. Ask your insurance company about discounts for having a student driver with good grades—or for drivers in your family being accident free. Discounts can also apply if you’re insuring your home with the same company.
  • Choose a higher deductible. You could reduce your premium by paying a higher deductible if you need to make a claim. Keep in mind this kind of price cut up front could mean you have to pay more out of pocket if you get into a wreck.
  • Review your coverage. The various coverages in your policy add up to your total premium.
    If you have collision coverage on an old car that's paid off, make sure the car’s value is worth more than what you’re paying for that coverage. And tell your insurance company if you’re working from home and no longer driving to work. They might offer a pay-per-mile policy that would save you money.

Hear more about shopping for auto insurance in the latest Texas Insurance Podcast.

Learn more

December 15, 2023

Ways to stay safe during cold weather


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.


December 1, 2023

Unknown fire hazards in your home


Washing machine

Most people know that stoves, ovens, and candles are dangerous and can start fires.

But there are other fire risks in your home that you might not have thought about:

  • Dryers. Clean your lint filter before each use. Make sure the air exhaust vent pipe leads to the outside and is unblocked. Clean the lint out of your vent pipe every three months. There are tools available at local home improvement stores that allow you to do it yourself. Or, you can hire a professional or get your apartment’s maintenance to do this. You want clothes to be fire, not on fire.
  • Kitchen appliances. Our kitchens have all sorts of gadgets, like air fryers, microwaves, and coffee makers. Plug your appliances into a wall outlet, never an extension cord. Place them where they won’t get bumped or knocked over.
  • Lithium-ion batteries. Smartphones, laptops, hoverboards--so many devices in our homes now use lithium-ion batteries. Don’t overcharge your devices, and don’t place them on a pillow, bed, or couch while charging. Keep devices that use lithium-ion batteries at room temperature.

If there is a fire in your house, get out and stay out. Use your cell phone to call for help or ask a neighbor to call 911.

November 29, 2023

Five reasons to always lock your car or truck


A bar chart showing Texas auto thefts for 2017-2019. There were 77,489 auto thefts in 2019, 69,817 in 2018, and 68,041 in 2017.

Locking up your car or truck might seem a little thing. But always locking up protects you and your property.

Here’s why to lock up:

  • Theft happens a lot. In the U.S., a car is stolen once every 32 seconds. And car theft went up 7% in 2022, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
  • Theft costs money. The average loss per Texas motor vehicle theft topped $12,000 in 2020.
  • Leave your keys, risk your ride. Driver error, such as keys left in a vehicle or leaving it unlocked, is a factor in about half of all auto thefts. In Texas in 2017 through 2019, more than 17,000 stolen vehicles involved keys left in the car or truck.
  • Burglaries happen fast. A criminal can grab valuables in seconds. The crime that police call “sliding” targets unlocked cars briefly parked at stores such as gas stations. A thief sneaks up one side of the vehicle, opens a door, slides in, takes items, and slips away.
  • Lock up as soon as you’re in your car. Car or truck doors may automatically lock once you’re driving. But locking up as soon as you get in the driver’s seat better protects you from surprise break-ins.

Learn more

Auto theft and insurance: How to protect your ride

Car burglaries and break ins are increasing. Here's how to protect your car (podcast)

November 15, 2023

Protect your home while you’re away


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.

November 7, 2023

Traveling? Remember to check for smoke, carbon monoxide detectors.

portable smoke detector


Your bags are packed, you’re ready to travel. But do you plan to check your getaway spot for smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors? That would be wise.

CO is a colorless, odorless gas that replaces oxygen in your blood when you breathe it in. It can make you short of breath or cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, weakness—even death.

Each year, at least 420 people in the U.S. die from accidental CO poisoning, with more than 100,000 people going to an emergency room. And a 2019 study tallied over 100 CO poisoning incidents in U.S. hotels, motels and resorts—mostly caused by natural gas-fueled appliances.

Before or when you arrive at your vacation spot, check for:

  • Working CO and smoke alarms.
  • Portable fire extinguishers in easy reach.
  • Directions on how to exit the building.

If you own or rent an RV, make sure it has working alarms.

For less than $50, a small portable CO detector might be worth packing. Use it at your destination and help protect your family.

Learn more

November 2, 2023

Shopping tips for health insurance


Are you ready to pick a new health insurance plan? Here are shopping tips to help you make the right decision:

  • When you find a plan you like, make sure it offers the care and treatment benefits you need.
  • Review all costs including your monthly premium, deductible, and copayments.
  • Check if your current doctors are in-network with the plan.
  • Make sure the plan covers your prescription medicines.
  • If a plan looks too good to be true, it probably is. Keep shopping. Shopping on a trusted website like will help you see all your options and avoid scams.
  • Be wary of anyone pressuring you to commit to a plan right away. Remember, there are no one-day sales in health insurance. Take your time. Buy when you're ready. The open enrollment period for 2024 starts Nov. 1 and ends Jan. 15.

Hear more on shopping smart for health coverage in the latest This Is TDI podcast.

Learn more

October 31, 2023

TDI employs more than 100 veterans and welcomes more applicants


TDI staff are proud to work alongside many of our nation’s military veterans—and welcome more.

We're honored to call these veterans our coworkers.

“More than 100 veterans now work for TDI,” said Cynthia Olivier, associate commissioner of human resources. “We encourage veterans to reach out to us about job opportunities.”

If you’re a veteran seeking work, check out our job postings and contact the TDI human resources team with questions at

You also can sign up for email alerts to new openings.

If you are interested in applying for a job, be sure to read our Before you apply webpage for important notes and documents you will need to submit.

October 12, 2023

Prevent cooking fires, protect your home


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.

Learn more

October 12, 2023

New captive insurance specialist


The Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) announces the hiring of a captive insurance specialist with invaluable expertise.

Robert Rudnai is responsible for licensing and monitoring Texas-based captives and alerting businesses to the potential of starting a captive.

In 2013, the Legislature passed a measure allowing pure captives and requiring TDI to license them. At that time, Rudnai was among a handful of TDI financial analysts providing oversight to captives. He evaluated captive insurance license applications, met with prospective captive applicants, and developed relationships with captive service providers.

Rudnai, who started Oct. 2, ramped up quickly thanks to his familiarity with the captives landscape.

“I have been learning about and providing regulatory information to captives from the get-go,” Rudnai said. “The challenge now is to do so as efficiently, consistently, and predictably as possible.”

State lawmakers this year directed TDI to employ a specialist to support captive insurance oversight and related activities in Texas, which has 76 state-domiciled captives and ranks high in total premium volume from captives.

“And,” Rudnai said, “TDI is prepared for more growth.”

A captive is a wholly owned insurance company created to provide insurance coverage to its owner and affiliated companies. Captives are a form of self-insurance. They are typically established to meet the unique insurance needs of the owners.

Rudnai, who will address the Texas Captive Insurance Association this month, said: “There’s an opportunity now to use the experience and operational knowledge gained over the last decade to evaluate and refine processes and procedures. This starts by my listening to our stakeholders and considering their perspectives.”

The Army veteran, who has a master’s degree in accounting, rejoined the department after working in the insurance industry.

September 7, 2023

How to shop for home insurance


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.

Shopping tips:

  • Ask your agent if a premium increase or other changes in your policy are in the works. This helps you make comparisons.
  • Visit 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.

Learn more

August 28, 2023

Do you know the difference between a copay and coinsurance?


copay vs. coinsurance

Twenty five percent of Americans with health insurance recently told a pollster they find terms such as “copay” and “coinsurance” hard to understand.

We get it.

After all, the words sound alike.

And both relate to your paying money out of pocket when you get health care.

But there are differences:

  • You get charged a copay when getting treatment covered by your health plan.
  • Your copay is a fixed amount. It varies based on the service you get. For instance, your plan might charge a $15 copay for a generic prescription drug, $30 to visit your primary care doctor, or $50 to see a specialist.
  • Coinsurance kicks in after you have met your plan’s annual deductible, which is what you pay out of pocket before your plan starts picking up a share of medical expenses.
  • What you pay in coinsurance for a health care service is a percentage of what your plan pays the doctor or medical provider. Example: If your plan’s allowed amount for a treatment is $100, your coinsurance payment of 20% would be $20. Your plan pays the remaining $80.

Learn more

August 3, 2023

Coastal Texans can turn to TWIA for hail, windstorm coverage


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

July 18, 2023

Biking and insurance pedal together


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

Home insurance might cover dog bite costs


Silhouette of dog biting a person

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.

Learn more

July 6, 2023

Have an insurance complaint? Tips to understand the complaint process


Have a problem with your insurance company, agent, or adjuster?

You might want to file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI).

Before you consider a complaint, talk to your insurance agent or company about the problem you’re having. Sometimes conversations clear the air, delivering satisfaction.

You can file a complaint with TDI about insurance companies, agents, and adjusters. We can help you get started.

After you file a complaint, our experts will reach out to the insurance company to get more information. Last year, we returned $56 million to consumers in refunds and claim payments.

Before you file a complaint, understand that there are some things we can’t do:

  • We can’t make a company pay a claim unless the failure to pay violates a law or the terms of your policy.
  • We can’t help with complaints against another person’s insurance company. For instance, we probably won’t be able to help you if you’re in an accident and the other driver’s insurance company won’t accept liability.
  • We can’t decide who was at fault in an accident.

Questions? Call our Help Line at 800-252-3439 to understand your rights. For more on filing a complaint, watch this Texas Insurance podcast.

View podcast Q&A: How to get help with an insurance complaint

Learn more

June 1, 2023

How to safely set up and run your portable generator


If you own a portable generator, remember to place it outdoors at least 20 feet from your home’s doors, windows, or vents.

Keeping a distance helps protect you from carbon monoxide gas, which is colorless, odorless, and potentially deadly.

More generator safety tips:

  • Don’t put fuel in a hot generator. Turn it off and let it cool before refueling. Only put fuel in containers made for fuel. Never store fuel inside your home.
  • Take care of cords. Plug appliances into your generator directly or use a heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cord. Check the cord for cuts, tears, or missing prongs.
  • If you want to connect your generator to your house’s wiring, have a qualified electrician do it. Make sure the electrician uses a properly rated switch that meets electrical codes.

Watch our video for help using portable generators from Kelley Stalder, chief engineer of the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office.

View podcast Q&A: How to safely use a portable generator

Learn more

May 8, 2023

Protect against other drivers with uninsured motorist coverage


toy cars crashing

Texas law requires drivers to have liability coverage on their vehicles.

But some drivers fail to get coverage. Warning sign: More than 2.6 million state-registered vehicles are not matched to an insurance policy. That’s 12% of the state’s registered vehicles.

So, it could pay for you to consider uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, which insurance companies must offer when you buy auto insurance. If you don’t want it, you have to turn it down in writing.

If you add uninsured/underinsured coverage, you’ll have extra financial protection after an accident involving a driver with little or no insurance. The coverage pays your car repair and medical bills. You’ll have to pay a $250 deductible for car repair.

Related tips:

  • Uninsured/underinsured coverage also pays to replace the property in your car, a rental car if you need it, your medical bills, and pain and suffering costs. If you don’t have this coverage, your collision coverage will pay to repair your car. But you won’t get these extra coverages and your deductible will likely be higher.
  • If an accident leaves you with long-term care needs or you aren’t able to work, your health plan probably won’t cover those costs.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays if you’re in a hit-and-run accident and the other driver can’t be found to pay for damage.
  • You can usually add uninsured/underinsured coverage in $5,000 increments. A rule of thumb is to add at least enough property damage coverage to replace your vehicle. Ask your agent what coverage works for you.

Learn more

May 2, 2023

Plan to be safe before a hurricane hits Texas


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 25, 2023

Dog burned in fire now helps state investigate fires


Harley was destined to be a K-9 arson investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. When she was just 3 weeks old, a heat lamp burst in her kennel and started a fire. Harley's mother barked for help until the owners came to rescue her puppies.

The owners didn’t notice that Harley was stuck between a kennel and a fence until the fire was out. She was the only puppy hurt in the fire.

While Harley was getting treatment for her burns, the owners reached out to Tommy, a lieutenant with the Fire Marshal’s Office, about adopting the German shepherd as a family pet. His daughter and the owner’s daughter were friends.

Tommy said Harley was a handful as a puppy.

“She was like: Here, throw this toy; here, throw it again. She was always wanting to play,“ Tommy said. “She was always wanting to work.”

Harley joined Tommy’s other dog, Clear, on the family’s 165-acre ranch in Central Texas. Clear was Tommy’s K-9 partner, helping him investigate fires with the Fire Marshal’s Office. Clear’s job was to sniff out accelerants to learn what caused a fire.

As Tommy got to know Harley, he realized she had some qualities that would make her a good K-9 partner.

“When you can leave a toy in the pasture for a week, and she can go search for 15 minutes and find it, you think: Dog, you might have something here,” Tommy said.

When Harley was 2 years old, and Clear was 11 and ready to retire, Tommy proposed the idea to his captain. After a lengthy process, Harley was approved to start training in 2021. Tommy and Harley were certified as an accelerant detection K-9 team three months later.

K-9 handlers across the state have been impressed with Harley’s “nose on source” indications.

“She puts her nose on a source and lays down as flat as she can and holds still, waiting for a command to come get her toy,” said Tommy. “She really gets into her work.”

As for the kennel fire, Harley fully recovered from her burns and probably doesn’t remember it.

“She’s done with that,“ said Tommy. “She has other things to do.”

April 11, 2023

Keep batteries out of trash and recycling bins. You have better options.


Batteries are a part of our daily lives; they power cars, phones, household devices, and much more! But improper disposal of batteries can be a possible fire hazard. Avoid putting batteries into dumpsters, trash cans, recycling bins, or compost bins.

Instead, use these safe disposal tips:

  • It’s best for the environment to take batteries to a retail recycler or a community household hazardous waste collection site. Home improvement and other retail stores sometimes recycle batteries.

    If you’re unable to remove a battery from the device it powers, take the whole device to an electronics store or a household hazardous waste collection site for disposal.

  • It’s against Texas law to put lead-acid car or truck batteries in your trash. Take your used battery to an automotive parts store or a hazardous household waste recycling facility. Plan to pay a small fee.
  • Lithium-ion batteries can cause fires and explosions if they are punctured. Do not place these batteries in your regular household trash or recycling. Instead, seal each battery’s electrical contacts – or terminals – with electrical tape. Or, put each battery in a separate container before taking them to a hazardous waste collection site.

April 6, 2023

Prepare your home and family for spring Texas storms


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

April 4, 2023

Distracted drivers are dangerous. How not to be one.


Don’t you hate distracted drivers?

You know—the driver sending a text message, fiddling with the car’s radio, or eating while driving.

Distracted drivers are dangerous. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) notes that in 2021, a distracted driver caused one in five car crashes on Texas roads.

To avoid distraction behind the wheel, remember:

  • Texting while driving is illegal in Texas.
  • Power off your phone and other electronics until you reach your destination. If you must communicate on the move, first pull over to park safely.
  • If a driver acts out of line, stay calm. Don’t respond in kind. Keep your distance and let that driver scoot.
  • If you think another driver is a danger, pull over in a safe place and call 3-1-1.

March 22, 2023

Federal loans available to Texans hit by January storms, tornadoes


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 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.

March 3, 2023

Insurance fraud could happen to you


Do you think insurance fraud rarely happens or mostly on TV dramas?

Think again.

Last year, the Fraud Unit at the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) got more than 16,000 reports of possible fraud. The unit, which has officers around the state, worked on nearly 400 criminal investigations. It currently has more than 170 ongoing investigations in 40 Texas counties.

Tips to protect yourself from fraud:

  • When shopping for insurance, check that the agent you’re working with has a state license. You can call the TDI Help Line at 800-252-3439 or look up the agent on TDI’s website,
  • Be wary of buying a policy from anyone who only accepts cash or who wants to meet you only at your home or in a parking lot.
  • If someone tells you that you must act today or you'll lose the offer, that's usually a bad sign. Legitimate insurance plans won’t have purchase deadlines. Don't be rushed when shopping for insurance.
  • After you buy a policy, call the insurance company to confirm that the policy is in your name.
  • If you’re asked to cash in an annuity or some other life insurance policy to buy a different annuity or policy, don't take the bait. Annuities and life insurance products are generally worth more the longer you hold onto them.

Listen to more on stopping insurance fraud in Texas in The Texas Insurance Podcast, featuring Chris Davis of TDI’s Fraud Unit.

View podcast Q&A: What’s insurance fraud?

Learn more

January 30, 2023

Even experienced drivers need reminders about driving in winter weather


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 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


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

January 5, 2023

Texans, especially older adults, should beware of phone, online scams


Your phone rings, you answer, and someone with a friendly voice asks for your bank account or Social Security number.

Hang up. It’s probably a scam.

Fraudsters tend to target older people, who are often more trusting and vulnerable. Older people are also more likely to talk to someone they don’t know.

In 2021, more than 6,700 Texans over age 60 reported losing more than $159 million to fraud.

Common scams:

  • A caller offers to fix a non-existent computer problem or to renew a fraudulent software or security subscription. The caller might even transfer you to fake “customer service” staff.
  • A caller pretending to be a grandchild calling from another country and needing hundreds of dollars fast. Once money gets sent outside the United States, it’s very hard to recover.
  • A call or email that says you’ve won a sweepstakes or lottery. The catch: You need to pay thousands of dollars to get the bigger prize.
  • Someone on the phone or sending an email adopts a fake identity to gain affection and confidence. The scammer builds a relationship with the victim to steal their money.

How do you avoid these and insurance scams? Listen to The Texas Insurance Podcast, featuring tips from Tim Morstad of AARP Texas.

View podcast Q&A:  How older adults can avoid scams

Learn more

December 1, 2022

It’s health insurance shopping season—but watch for red flags


Podcast episode promo image

Across America, it’s sign-up season for health insurance—a chance to shop for coverage that fits your health and budget needs.

You have until Jan. 15 to browse insurance options on Read more in our Tips to buying a health plan—and getting what you want .

Warning: You should also watch for signs that something might not be right.

Some red flags:

  • You get a call from someone you didn’t contact first. You should be in control of when you shop, what you’re shopping for, and who you ask for help.
  • If an agent can’t answer basic questions—such as a plan’s copays, deductible or premium amounts, or give you specific plan information in writing—that’s a red flag; and it might be a scam.
  • If you feel pressured to commit to a plan right away, just say no. No legitimate plan changes its price or other terms during enrollment season.
  • If you see coverage that costs far less than other plans, hold off. There may be catches that cost you, like fewer benefits. If a deal sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true.

Listen to more on red flags and questions to ask while shopping in our Texas Insurance Podcast.

View podcast Q&A: Can you shop around for health insurance?

Learn more

Use these tips to shop smart for health coverage.

November 17, 2022

Open enrollment for Medicare runs through December 7


It’s that season, time to shop for what you want in Medicare.

Medicare, federally-funded health insurance, is open to Americans 65 or older, younger people with disabilities, and people with end stage renal disease.

You have until Dec. 7 to change your Medicare health or drug coverage for 2023. The open enrollment period lets you join, switch, or drop a Medicare Advantage Plan or a Medicare drug plan.

A Medicare Advantage plan provides Medicare through a private company.

Sometimes a plan offers additional benefits. For instance, you may not need a separate drug plan if your Medicare Advantage plan has drug coverage.

Any changes you make take effect January 1.

In our Texas Insurance Podcast, we spoke with the Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area about tips to find a plan that works best for you.

View podcast Q&A: What’s Medicare open enrollment?

Learn more

How to pick the right Medicare plan

October 20, 2022

Your mental health: What to know about getting help.


If you have a fever or body aches, you’d go to the doctor. If you think you’ve broken a bone or have heart flutters, you might go to the ER.

Are you taking the same care of your mental health? Or are you worried about the cost or don’t know where you’d go for help?

Texas and the federal government have laws to protect consumers and guarantee that health plans give you the same level of mental health benefits as your medical benefits, such as the number of office visits. This is known as “mental health parity.”

The laws require mental health parity for:

  • Payment limits. Some plans have limits on how much it will pay over your lifetime or over a year. If your plan has a limit for medical benefits, the limit should be the same for mental health benefits.
  • Out of pocket expenses. Your plan should have the same copayments, deductibles, or coinsurance for mental health and medical benefits.
  • Provider availability. Your plan should have a network of mental health providers and facilities, like it does for medical health.
  • Treatment limits. Your plan shouldn’t limit the number of visits for mental health treatment if it doesn’t for medical health.

All of that may seem complicated.

But basically, your health coverage should have a mind-body connection. And that connection should be all the time, not just when there’s an emergency.

Don’t delay or deny yourself care because you don’t think your plan covers it. Contact your health plan first for information and a list of providers in their network.

The Texas Department of Insurance is here to help. If you have insurance questions or want to file a complaint, call our Help Line at 800-252-3439.

View podcast Q&A: Your mental health: What to know about getting help.

Learn more

October 13, 2022

Fire in your house? Get out fast.


If a fire breaks out in your home, you might have just minutes to escape.

So get out.


Don’t hesitate.

Use these tips to plan how you’ll get your family and pets out safely:

  • Make a home escape plan and practice it with everyone in your home. Have someone watch the drill and time it. Practice the plan until it’s automatic for everyone.
  • Practice your escape plan twice a year. Try one practice at night, one in daylight.
  • Practice finding more than one way out.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure exit doors and windows open easily.
  • Agree on an outdoor meeting place—a tree, mailbox, light pole. Make sure everyone knows to go there.
  • Teach your children how to escape without your help. Tell them not to hide under a bed, in a closet, or in a bathroom.
  • Never go back inside a burning building. Get out and stay out!

Learn more

September 19, 2022

Am I covered by insurance when I rent a scooter?



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.

Learn more

September 15, 2022

Back to campus? Take these easy steps to stay safe from fire.


September and October are the peak months for fires in student-occupied property—especially between 5 and 9 p.m. Most of these fires are caused by cooking.

From 2015 to 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 3,840 structure fires in dormitories, fraternities, sororities, and other related properties

Take a few easy steps to help stay safe:

  • Make sure your bedroom and other living areas have working smoke alarms.
  • Practice a fire escape plan. Find two ways out of your room, apartment, or home.
  • Don’t cook when you’re distracted. It could lead to a mistake and fire.
  • Use only flameless candles.
  • Keep clear all exits, hallways, and stairwells.
  • Clean the dryer lint trap before and after each use. Clogged vents are a fire hazard.
  • Make sure you, and your roommates, know your dorm or housing’s safe meeting place if you have to escape.
  • Leave quickly if an alarm sounds. Even a short delay could be dangerous. Leave everything and get out.

Learn more

How college students can stay healthy, safe, and protect their stuff

September 1, 2022

Hold on! My totaled car is worth more than insurance wants to pay


You’re already bummed by your car wreck. Now your auto insurance company wants to total your car. This means the insurance company will pay the market value of your car—instead of covering the cost of repairs.

If your company isn’t offering the amount you think your car is worth, you have some options:

  • Find out what a car like yours – the same make and year – would sell for in your area. Get written quotes from used car dealers. Also, look online for cars being sold near you.
  • Write down any special features or custom parts that make your car worth more. (You probably can’t count that thingee hanging from your rear-view mirror.)
  • Call your insurance company or adjuster and ask if they’ll pay more than what they have offered. Give them the quotes you collected and point out the car’s special features.
  • If your company won’t pay more, ask about using an appraisal process. You and the company each hires an appraiser to determine the value of your car. The appraisers choose a third appraiser to act as an umpire. The umpire rules on any disagreements. You pay for your appraiser and half of the umpire's costs.
  • If you owe more than your car is worth, check your purchase documents to see if you bought gap insurance when you bought your car. You might also have loan/lease coverage in your auto policy.

If you’d rather keep your car as is, let your company know quickly. It will subtract the car’s salvage value from the original amount it was planning to pay you. You can spend your revised payment on the car or not.

Hear more expert advice about totaled cars in the latest Texas Insurance Podcast.

View podcast Q&A: How to deal with a totaled car

Learn more

August 10, 2022

TDI fraud investigation leads to another guilty plea from a former NFL player


Former Dolphins draft pick Jonathan Rex Hadnot pleaded guilty last week to his role in a scheme to defraud the Gene Upshaw NFL Health Reimbursement Account (HRA). The account was designed to help former pro players with some of the cost of health issues associated with their time in the league. 

Hadnot pleaded guilty in a Harris County court to submitting false medical claims for reimbursement. He collected nearly $30,000 from the HRA for medical treatments he never received. He’ll have to repay that money and serve five years’ probation.

The case was investigated by Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) investigators and prosecutors working with the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. Eight former players have been identified in Harris County in connection with the scheme, as well as a Houston athletic trainer.

You can report suspected insurance fraud by calling TDI’s Help Line at 800-252-3439.

Read more about the multi-year investigation and the individuals involved:

Houston athletic trainer and former NFL players indicted for fraud

August 4, 2022

Safety and savings tips when you go back to college


Many college students live off campus.

Freedom, right?

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

Learn more

July 28, 2022

Thinking about buying a residential service contract? It’s not home insurance.


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.

Learn more

July 14, 2022

Spacecraft hit your home? Insurance covers that and more.


Does my insurance cover that?

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.

Learn more

July 7, 2022

Detect odorless carbon monoxide, the “silent killer”


You can’t see it. You can’t smell or taste it.

But carbon monoxide gas, which can leak from faulty appliances, car engines, or generators, could make you sick and even kill you.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, carbon monoxide accounts for more than 100,000 U.S. emergency room visits a year. Annually, more than 400 Americans die from breathing in too much.

Protect your family and home by installing carbon monoxide detectors. They’re vital if you have gas-powered appliances or an attached garage.

Learn more, such as where to install detectors, from our podcast. We talked to relatives of a family who died by carbon monoxide poisoning while sleeping.

View podcast Q&A: How to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning

Learn more

June 27, 2022

Leave July 4 fireworks to the professionals


Love fireworks?

For safety’s sake, let a professional light up your Independence Day.

State Fire Marshal Orlando Hernandez said: “If you want to see great fireworks, save money, and stay safe, go to a professional show. Our office has issued more than 250 permits for Fourth of July shows, so there’s probably one nearby.”

Check your local news or social media for local Fourth of July fireworks shows.

Another caution: Most communities don’t allow you to use fireworks within city limits or during local burn bans. Check with your local fire department to see what’s allowed.

Hernandez added: “There are no safe fireworks for children.” He said some sparklers burn at nearly 2,000 degrees, as hot as a blow torch.

“Have fun,” Hernandez said, “but stay safe, Texas.”

Learn more

How to stay safe when using fireworks

June 23, 2022

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


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. 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?”

Learn more

June 16, 2022

Tips to avoid a tornado: Follow weather reports


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.”

June 2, 2022

Hear a beep? Get on your feet!


Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in your home deliver potentially life-saving messages.

Your alarm’s sounds can signal different dangers:

  • A set of three loud continuous beeps means smoke or fire.
  • A set of four loud continuous beeps means carbon monoxide is present.
  • A single chirp – repeating every 30 to 60 seconds – means your alarm battery is low and needs to be changed. If your alarm continues to chirp after replacing the battery, that means the alarm unit needs to be replaced.

Learn more about how smoke and carbon monoxide alarms keep you safe in the latest This Is TDI podcast featuring Kelly Ransdell of the National Fire Protection Association.

“We want people to learn the sounds of fire safety,” Ransdell says.

View podcast Q&A: How to know what your smoke alarm is telling you

Learn more

May 19, 2022

Title insurance isn’t required by law. But it protects you.


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.

Learn more

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

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.


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

April 7, 2022

Happy birthday to ‘The Texas Insurance Podcast’

Candles, cake, and consumer tips?

Yep, we’re celebrating a year of providing helpful insurance tips through TDI’s “The Texas Insurance Podcast.”

Every month, Ben Gonzalez of the Texas Department of Insurance talks to insurance experts about issues affecting your home, health, or auto coverage, including how to save money.

New to podcasts? No problem.

We make it simple: You can listen to any of our episodes on The Texas Insurance Podcast webpage.

Are you a podcast fan?

Be sure to get new episodes delivered to you. And let us hear from you. Your reviews and feedback help us improve content.

You can subscribe for free through your favorite podcast service. Find a list down the right side of this page.

Here are some of our favorite episode tips

  • In the market for a used car? The National Insurance Crime Bureau talks about checking a vehicle’s VIN number to confirm its ownership history. And the Better Business Bureau shares how to avoid scams.

    Listen now: How to check a used car’s history and avoid scams

  • Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) shares storm and hurricane planning advice. TDEM encourages families to have a “go kit” ready in case they need to leave home fast. Your “go kit” should have flashlights, batteries, phone chargers, water, pet food, your regular medicine, and copies of your home insurance and flood policies.

    Listen now: How to prepare for hurricane season

  • The Houston Police Department talks about how to prevent car break-ins. The best step? Don’t leave valuables in your car. Also noted: Today’s thieves often rifle through vehicles looking for loose handguns.

    Listen now: Car burglaries and break-ins are increasing. Here’s how to protect your car

Listen to all 13 episodes at The Texas Insurance Podcast.

April 7, 2022

Shop to save money on your car insurance


You probably shop for the best prices and quality when you’re looking for new clothes, tech products, and food.

But do you do that for car insurance?

Give it a try.

Quick tips to save on coverage:

  • Shop around. Companies charge different rates. You often get a better deal if you’re willing to switch companies.
  • Ask about available discounts—for a good driving record, for having an alarm in your car, or for taking defensive driving or driver education classes. You could also get a discount for having your auto policy with the same company as your home insurance.
  • Your premium is what you pay up front for coverage. But don’t forget to check on your deductible—what you must pay after an accident before the insurance company pays. A lower deductible usually means you’ll have to pay more up front for the policy. Think about how much you can afford to pony up if your car is damaged.

Hear more tips and learn what drives the cost of car insurance in the latest episode of “The Texas Insurance Podcast.”

View podcast Q&A: How to lower car insurance costs

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

March 4, 2022

InsurED webinars

2022 Compliance Conference

Continuing education webinars

Earn continuing education credit by joining one-hour webinars presented by Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) staff.

Webinars will feature updates and time for Q&A.

Register to join

Click the links below to register and get details.

March 3, 2022

Ask these questions before you buy and insure your home

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.

Learn more

February 24, 2022

Did you get a surprise medical bill? You might not have to pay.


Nobody likes getting a medical bill they weren’t expecting.

Good news: You might not have to pay it.

A new federal law and a 2019 state law bans out-of-network doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers from billing you in emergencies or when you didn’t have a choice of doctors. These bills are called “surprise bills.”

Federal law also protects you from surprise bills from air ambulance services.

We have tips about what to do with a surprise bill. Visit our webpage, How to get help with a surprise medical bill.

Learn more

February 24, 2022

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


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 10, 2022

Older Texans face greater fire risks. Learn how to make a safe exit.

Older adults have a higher risk of dying in a house fire. But taking precautions can save lives.

Some tips to prevent fires and to make a safe exit:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside and outside the bedrooms. The best alarm system is interconnected so that when an alarm sounds in one room, alarms in the other rooms also go off.
  • Keep your glasses, cane, wheelchair, or other helping devices close in case you need to leave your home quickly.
  • Test your alarms monthly.
  • Replace alarm units every 10 years.

Make and practice a home escape plan with everyone in your house. In a fire, you might have just two minutes to get out.

Watch our latest “This Is TDI” video featuring Teresa Neal of the U.S. Fire Administration who shares fire safety tips, including cooking safety tips for older adults.

Learn more

February 2, 2022

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


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.

January 27, 2022

You could save money by comparing car insurance prices


People routinely price-shop food, clothes, tech products and other items. Yet in 2020, more than half of U.S. customers didn’t take any action to manage their auto insurance costs, according to a J.D. Power study released in 2021.

Customers who did act mostly chose to reduce coverage; increase their deductible; or shop or shift to a different provider, the study found.

Michele Thomas of TDI’s Property and Casualty Division suggests that car owners check coverage prices every two years or so—especially if you haven't had any tickets or accidents in some time.

Your price check should start with your current carrier. It might have discounts reducing your costs.

Watch our video, How to save on car insurance.

Learn more

January 24, 2022

Don’t ‘puff’ your cold car or truck outdoors; keep thieves away

It’s tempting in cold weather to start your car or truck and then scoot indoors while it turns toasty. This is known as “puffing” because steam puffs out of the exhaust pipe while your ride warms up.

But beware. Thieves may see your unattended vehicle as a drive-away opportunity.

Over a recent three-year period, more than 17,000 Texas cars and trucks were stolen with keys or fobs left inside. And that count may be low because many drivers don’t admit to making the mistake. These incidents also aren’t noted in police reports or insurance claims, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Other tips to avoid break-ins and thefts

  • Lock doors and windows as soon as you enter your vehicle.
  • Park in well-lit areas.
  • Use a loud alarm or an anti-theft device a thief can see.
  • Install a catalytic converter cover or lock.

Learn more

January 6, 2022

New year, new you—and your health plan could help

Are you resolving to shape up in 2022?

Your health insurance plan could help.

Check your plan’s website or call your agent to see if your plan offers:

  • Free or discounted weight loss or wellness programs.
  • Free or discounted programs to help quit cigarettes and other tobacco products.
  • Discounts on gym memberships or fitness equipment.
  • A free app to help you count steps and track your fitness.

In TDI’s latest Texas Insurance podcast, Department of State Health Service’s Statewide Wellness Coordinator Lesley Jimenez offers fitness advice. Also, TDI’s Cindy Wright talks about insurance coverage of mental health benefits.

Listen to our podcast, Ways to help make healthy New Year’s resolutions stick.

December 16, 2021

Avoid frozen pipes and costly water damage by taking steps now


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

December 9, 2021

How can I find the best health care insurance for my needs?

When shopping for health insurance, there’s a lot to consider. In this video, we share tips for how to shop smart:

  • Be aware of the deadlines to enroll if you’re shopping for health insurance through
    • You have until December 15 to get coverage on January 1.
    • You have until January 15 to get coverage on February 1.
  • If you have a medical issue or a doctor you like seeing, make sure that plan covers treatment, and your provider is in the plan’s network. If you take a medication, make sure it is covered. Call the insurance company if you have questions about what’s covered.
  • Review out-of-pocket costs including deductibles and co-pays, which can increase depending on the cost of the plan.
  • If costs have you worried, find out if you can get a tax credit. “Premium tax credits” or subsidies are based on your income. More people are expected to get subsidies than in past enrollment periods.

Use our checklist to help you decide on health coverage. Health plan shopping guide.

Make sure you weigh your options when it comes to health care insurance coverage. The Health care coverage guide has answers about how coverage works or if you need help understanding your rights.

Texas Health Compare allows you to find and compare health insurance plans. If you have more questions, call the TDI Help Line at 800-252-3439.

November 18, 2021

Does insurance cover water damage caused by burst pipes?


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 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.

November 4, 2021

Many Americans planning trips; some considering travel insurance

The majority of Americans plan to travel soon—and about one in three travelers say they’re likely to purchase travel insurance, according to a survey by AAA.

The AAA survey found:

  • 55% of American adults are planning a vacation of at least one overnight stay before the end of 2022.
  • 31% of people planning to travel between now and the end of 2022 are more likely to purchase travel insurance due to the pandemic.
  • 69% of travelers said the ability to cancel a trip and get a refund is the most important benefit when considering travel insurance.

In TDI’s latest Texas Insurance podcast, Megan Cruz of the US Travel Insurance Association encourages shoppers to check exclusions in any travel policy before buying.

Cruz also suggests that before you use your policy to cancel a trip, you should contact your hotel and airline. Both could waive reservation cancellation penalties and give credits to reschedule travel. After that, Cruz says, check if the provider of your travel insurance will let you change your coverage dates to a later time.

Listen to our podcast, What does travel insurance cover?

October 28, 2021

Does insurance cover treatment for mental health and substance use disorders?

If you’re dealing with stress, depression, anxiety, or substance abuse issues, your insurance should help cover your treatment—just like it would with a medical issue.

In our latest video, we asked Cindy Wright in TDI’s Customer Operations what Texans should know about insurance coverage for mental health and substance use disorders.

  • Most health insurance plans cover services for mental health and substance use disorders. If you aren’t sure, check your policy or contact your insurance company.
  • The law guarantees “parity” for most health plans, which means health plans must cover mental health and substance abuse treatment the same as medical health. Learn more on our How to get help with a mental health issue
  • If your mental health insurance claim is denied, you may be able to file an appeal with your insurance company or ask for an external review.
  • Texas Health and Human Services has resources to help you get access to mental health and substance use treatment through your insurance plan.

If you have questions about appealing an insurance claim or the claims process, call the TDI Help Line at 800-252-3439.

For more information, see our webpage, Insurance coverage and parity for mental health and substance use disorder services.

October 14, 2021

Protect your information from scams during Medicare open enrollment

Did you get a phone call from someone offering a free COVID-19 vaccine or a gift if you give them your Medicare information? It’s probably a scam. A health plan will never call you out of the blue and ask for personal information.

Medicare open enrollment—the time of year you can sign up for or make changes to a Medicare plan—is from October 15 to December 7. Which also makes it prime time for scammers.

Never give your Medicare information to someone you didn’t expect to get a call from. If you aren’t sure, call 800-252-9240 to find your Area Agency on Aging, or check with your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program.

About 4 million Texans have health insurance coverage through Medicare. In our new video, we talked to Yvette McVeigh with the Area Agency on Aging. McVeigh explains what to do when your plan doesn’t cover the medications you need or let you see the specialist who’s right for you. She also had great advice for avoiding scams.

October 7, 2021

Is your smoke or carbon monoxide alarm chirping? Here’s what it’s telling you.


Just about everyone has woken up to the sounds of a smoke or carbon monoxide alarm going off in the middle of the night. But what do those chirps and beeps mean? In our latest video, we asked the National Fire Protection Association what the noises mean and how to stay safe from fires and carbon monoxide. Here’s a simple guide:

  • Smoke alarms alert you with three beeps in a row.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms alert you with four beeps.
  • A single chirp means the battery is low or the detector should be replaced.

Some newer alarms also have a voice that gives you directions. Other alarms, made for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, shake your pillow or have a strobe light.

  • Every alarm has a manufacture date or an expiration date. Replace your alarms before the expiration date, or within 10 years of the manufacture date.
  • Test your alarms once a month.
  • Replace the batteries once a year.
  • Replace the alarms at least every 10 years.

When you buy new alarms, put them inside and outside each sleeping area. Not just bedrooms, but anywhere people sleep. If your garage is attached to your home, you need one there too.

Have a family escape plan and pick a safe place to meet outside. Then practice your plan so everyone’s ready when an alarm goes off. If someone in the house has mobility issues, make sure they sleep on the ground floor. It could be a matter of life and death.

Learn more

September 30, 2021

TDI answers your auto insurance questions

Not sure what kind of auto insurance you need? Wondering why your rates went up? In our latest podcast, TDI experts answer your top auto insurance questions.

Here are a few of the questions we hear the most.

  • What should auto insurance cost, and what’s the best kind to get?
  • Why do my neighbors pay less for auto insurance than I do?
  • Should I buy the insurance car rental companies try to sell me?
  • Should I get “gap coverage” when I buy a new car?
  • Why do insurance rates in Texas seem higher than in other places?
  • What can I do to keep costs down?

Listen to the podcast to get the answers and some money-saving tips.

September 23, 2021

Need life insurance? Young Texans should consider it too

COVID-19 concerns are driving an increase in life insurance purchases by younger Americans. Applications were up 8% for those under 45 years old. In our new video, TDI’s Life and Health section explains what Texans need to know about life insurance.

Anyone with a family business, assets, or people to protect should think about buying life insurance. Here are some important questions to ask yourself:

  • If I were to die, how would that affect the people in my life?
  • Would there be money to pay for a funeral?
  • How much money would people in my life need to make ends meet without me?
  • Would they lose their homes?
  • If you have children, who’s going to pay for their education?

Write those questions down, and it will help you determine how much life insurance you need.

You’ll also need to decide between term life and whole life insurance.

Term life is the least expensive. It’s based on a time period or your age. When you get to the end of the term period, or reach the age, the insurance ends. There may never be a payout, because you're just covering yourself for a portion of your life when others rely on your income.

Whole life insurance, also called permanent insurance, is there for your entire life. Whole life can be expensive, but that’s because it lasts until you die and the policy pays out. Unlike term life, a whole life policy will accumulate cash value over the years.

More tips:

September 14, 2021

Know the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning


Cell phones and other devices are a big help in a weather emergency. They give you a quick way to check in with friends and relatives or call for help. But if the power’s out and your battery is low, be careful where you recharge your devices.

It may be tempting to use a running car or truck to charge your phone, but never do that when your vehicle is in a garage. Most engines put out carbon monoxide, a deadly gas you can’t see or smell.

A running car can create enough carbon monoxide build-up to kill you, even if the garage door is open. Wind can blow carbon monoxide back into your garage, or even inside your house if doors, windows, or vents are open.

If you can do so safely, move your vehicle out of the garage and away from your home. Then it’s OK to start the engine and recharge your phones and devices in the vehicle.

Be careful when you use generators and other sources of carbon monoxide as well.

Learn more

September 13, 2021

How to prepare for Tropical Storm Nicholas

Tropical Storm Nicholas is expected to bring strong winds and flash flooding to the Texas coast tonight through Wednesday. Coastal areas and parts of Harris and Montgomery counties could see 10-20 inches of rain. Space City Weather expects the storm to be similar to what Houston saw during Tropical Storm Imelda in 2019.

Here’s how you can prepare:

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. Call family members to talk about where you’ll meet if you need to evacuate. 

Prepare your home. If you have a two-story house, move valuables to the higher floor. Gather flashlights, can openers, blankets, and other things you might need to eat and sleep on an upper floor. If you have time, clean your gutters to allow the water to drain faster.

Listen to the news. Evacuate if told to do so. Know what roads and backup routes you’ll take to get to higher ground.

Don’t drive through flood water. Water can be deeper or stronger than it looks. Turn around and find another route. If you’re trapped in your car in fast-moving water, don’t get out. If you can avoid it, don’t walk or swim through flood water.

August 26, 2021

Apartment hunting? Look for these safety features

Heading off to college? Starting your career in a new town? If you’re getting a new place for the first time, check out our new video for fire safety tips from the Texas State Fire Marshal.

Look for sprinkler systems and fire alarms. The best systems have voices, not beeping, because people wake up faster to a voice than a noise. And always check the evacuation plan.

The most common causes of apartment fires can all be avoided—here’s how:

  • Don’t cook when you’re tired—or leave a cooking fire unattended.
  • Don’t overload power outlets with chargers and electronics.
  • Avoid candles, or at least keep combustibles away from them. Better yet, get artificial candles that flicker like a flame.
  • Don’t put anything within three feet of a space heater.
  • If you have a clothes dryer, clean the lint out of the vent.

Make sure your new place has smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Check the manufacturing date on the back of each one. Have your landlord replace any that are 10 years old.

Think about fire safety when you go out, too. Look for alternative exits at football games, concerts, clubs, stores, and restaurants. In an emergency, most people crowd the front door, so make sure you know other ways out. If any place gets too crowded, leave.

And remember, your landlord’s insurance only covers the building. You need renters insurance to cover your things inside it. For more information, visit or call 800-252-3439.

We’ve also got tips on how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning at home.

August 19, 2021

Could a travel insurance policy pay off on your next trip?

Air travel is hitting pandemic highs—a record 2.2 million people went through airport checkpoints during the first Sunday in August, according to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.

Still, there’s a lot of uncertainty to travel these days. So for our new video, we talked to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association about protecting your travel plans.

You can buy travel insurance that covers things you already paid for, such as flights, cruise tickets, or hotel deposits. You can also buy a “cancel for any reason” policy, which pays back about 50 to 70% of the cost of your trip if you if you cancel for any reason—or even no reason.

How do you know if you need travel insurance? Well, think about what you’d have to pay if you had to cut your trip short. Could you afford another ticket? What if you had to book an extra night in a hotel? Or if you had to be evacuated for medical reasons? If you can’t cover those costs, consider buying travel insurance.

Travel insurance typically costs between 5 and 10% of the cost of your trip. Adding “cancel for any reason” coverage will cost 40 to 70% more. And while most policies don’t cover the COVID pandemic itself, they may cover things like a quarantine, sickness, job loss, bad weather, or a government-mandated airport shutdown.

Read our tips: Travel insurance: What does it cover and when do you need it?

August 12, 2021

Got insurance? Questions to ask at a job interview


Text on image: Job offer? Ask about a health plan.

Congrats, you got a job interview! After you talk about pay and telecommuting, don’t forget to ask about the benefits. And we don’t mean days off – we mean insurance.

On average, benefits make up a third of a company’s compensation package, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health insurance is a big part of that.

Ask if the company offers health insurance and how much of the premium you’ll pay. Also ask if they offer health insurance for your family. And look at the plan’s copays, deductibles, and coinsurance. Those are all amounts you’ll have to pay yourself.

If you already have health insurance, getting it through your job will probably cost less and offer more benefits. But always compare costs and benefits before you switch.

If a company doesn’t offer health insurance, ask if there’s a health savings plan. It’s a plan you pay into to help with the cost of health care.

Learn more about what to ask about insurance before you switch jobs.

August 5, 2021

Buying a used car? Here’s how to avoid scams

Buying a vehicle? Curious about the one you’ve got? Did you know you can check a car or truck’s vehicle identification number (VIN) number to learn more about it? The information you get with a VIN can help keep you safe and save you money.

For our latest podcast, we talked to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) about how a VIN can help you. And the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Greater Houston shared how to avoid scams when you buy a vehicle online.

Some tips: You can use NICB’s VINCheck to find out if a vehicle was stolen or damaged. A VIN can also tell you if it was flooded during a hurricane. That’s important because, if it was, sensors for airbags and bumpers could fail in an accident.

It’s also a good idea to check with the Better Business Bureau in your area when you buy a used vehicle, especially if you buy online. The BBB can tell you if a seller or website has a lot of complaints or bad reviews. And they can tell you about the latest scams—like a price that’s too good to be true, or a third-party escrow site that seems fake.

If you’re in the market for a car or truck, listen to our podcast for more information.

July 29, 2021

Home insurance isn’t required. But it makes sense.

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.

Ready to shop? Find and compare Texas home insurance policies or use TDI’s home insurance guide.

July 27, 2021

Before starting your home business, check on insurance needs


Woman packing merchandise in her living room

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 23, 2021

2021 Insurance Summer Games

Olympic medals

Sorry sports fans, there won’t be spectators at the Olympics in Tokyo. But welcome to TDI’s Summer Insurance Games! We look at the insurance tips with the most web hits, video views, and podcast listens. You’ll experience the thrill of victory and the agony of a totaled car. The winners:

100 meter insurance blog

Insurance tips floor exercise

200 meter freestyle podcast

400 meter video hurdles

Still need some help? Consider this video our closing ceremony. We’ll see you in a few months for the winter games.

July 15, 2021

How $50 can strengthen your roof

Did you know spending about $50 on the right kind of nails can double the strength of your roof?

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety shares advice that can help you protect your roof and your home from storms. The institute tests products in storm-like conditions, then lists the best at

Here are the institute’s top tips for protecting your roof

  • Make sure the roof decking—which is what shingles or a metal roof sit on—is attached to the trusses or the rafters with ring shank nails. Ring shank nails have ridges or grooves on them.
  • Seal the roof deck to keep wind and water out of the roof cover. That will keep water out of the house and from causing even more damage.
  • Purchase roof covering products designed to resist the conditions you actually face in your area. You don’t always have to spend more money.
  • Make sure your garage door is properly rated. If you lose it in a storm, the pressure change inside your house could cause major structural failures.

Watch this video to learn how to strengthen your roof and home.

July 9, 2021

Home improvement ideas – indoor edition

Is your home protected?

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 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.

Tune in as we interview experts: Join us on Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube as we talk to industry experts on a variety of topics.

  • 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

Do construction costs affect my home insurance?

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 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.

July 1, 2021

Podcast: How to find a new health plan now

Shopping for health insurance podcast

Choosing the best health insurance is kind of like picking the perfect mix of streaming services. The choices are overwhelming and costs add up quickly. We can’t help with streaming, but we have tips on how to find the right insurance coverage and avoid scams.

From now until August 15, anyone can sign up for a health plan through You may even qualify for subsidies to help pay for your coverage.

You also can buy health insurance from an insurance company or licensed agent. Or you may have options through your employer, a union, an association, or your church.

There are a lot of different plans, all with different costs. Listen to our podcast to learn how to find the right one for you. And our health plan shopping guide has a list of questions to ask before you buy a plan.

June 22, 2021

Are your collectibles worth a lot? Are they insured?

Pokemon card

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.

Learn more about insurance for your collectibles.

June 21, 2021

RV, pool, or boat? Insurance for your summer survival tools

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 17, 2021

Average cost of renters policy? $15 a month


If you rent an apartment or house, it’s a good idea to have renters insurance. It pays to replace your personal belongings if they’re stolen or damaged by a fire, storm, or burst pipe.

We talked to a Houston-area real estate agent about the importance of having renters insurance.

Christy Rodriguez says renters should weigh the cost of renters insurance (about $15 a month) to the cost of relocating and replacing their belongings if their rental is damaged.

Renters insurance also pay for a hotel and food if you need to move out while your rental is being repaired. It also pays if someone is hurt in your home, and we all have that one friend…

Learn more about renters insurance.

June 10, 2021

You live in a floodplain


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 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.

June 2, 2021

Starting your financial future together


Getting married soon? You’re not the only happy couple! Wedding planners report being booked through the year as couples reschedule weddings postponed due to the pandemic. We can’t help you find a caterer, but we do have an insurance checklist to get you off to a good financial start.

Renters insurance: The average renters policy in Texas costs about $20 a month. That’s a great way to protect those nice wedding gifts. It will pay to replace items damaged by a burst pipe or other cause. It will also cover personal items stolen from your home or car.

Auto policies: Combining your auto policies may save you money. Most insurance companies offer a discount if you have more than one vehicle, and rates are usually lower if you’re married.

Health coverage: You have several options for health coverage. If both of you have coverage through work, compare the policies. One may have better benefits, a lower deductible, or a lower cost to add a dependent. And check to see if there’s a deadline to add a spouse.

Life insurance: As your situation changes and your family grows, you may need life insurance. Consider how much income would need to be replaced to help with childcare, your mortgage, and other debts.

May 26, 2021

Carbon monoxide – the silent killer after the storm

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

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 18, 2021

How rising lumber costs affect your insurance

racks of lumber at a home improvement store

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 to compare sample rates for different companies.

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.

May 5, 2021

Used car prices are up, so shop smart

Arrow showing location of a car's vehicle identification number. It is on the driver's side of the dashboard, close to the windshield.


Cars are the latest shortage of the pandemic. A lack of computer chips is slowing production of new cars and trucks, and it’s increasing demand for used vehicles. It’s a great time to sell, but expect to pay more if you’re buying. Average trade-in values hit a record $17,080 in March, up 20% from a year ago, according to the car research website Edmunds. 

While you may have to pay more, make sure you’re not getting scammed. Before you buy a used car, check the vehicle identification number (VIN). It will confirm the vehicle’s model year and let you know if it’s been reported stolen or salvaged.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free VIN check and has links to other services.

For more information about VINs and the information you can get with them, watch our interview with Tully Lehman, an expert at the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

April 29, 2021

Do you know your home’s wildfire risk?

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

Is your insurance keeping up with construction costs?

home under construction

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 19, 2021

New podcast looks at increase in auto thefts

Auto thefts were up in Texas and across the nation last year. In our new podcast, we talk to Sgt. Tracy Hicks with the Houston Police Department’s Auto Theft Crimes Task Force about what you can do to protect your car or truck from burglaries and theft.

Man breaking into a car

Thieves often break into cars to look for guns, Sgt. Hicks said. Be especially careful when going to a gun range or store because thieves may be watching the parking lots to identify potential targets. He suggested getting a car safe if you carry guns or other valuables in your car.

Catalytic converters are another hot commodity for thieves, who sell the precious metals inside. Catalytic converters easy to steal and hard to identify. Hybrid cars are often targeted because their catalytic converters – and the metals inside – are usually cleaner than on gas cars. You can get a catalytic converter lock or cover installed to make it harder to remove.

Check out our podcast for more about the latest trends in auto theft and how to protect your car or truck.

We have also a video interview with Sgt. Hicks and information about insurance coverage for auto thefts and burglaries.

April 15, 2021

Buying a house? Ask for a CLUE report

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.

Learn more


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 or call 800-621-3362.

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