Hurricane Harvey is just finished and the total cost of the recovery is already in the billions. At this time, congress has already released $37 Million in disaster relief funds. Most of that will go straight into FEMA recovery funds and infrastructure renewal. Even with that release, the funds are still an order of magnitude away from the actual cost of this horrible storm. So what can you do to get back on your feet?
If your property has been damaged or destroyed, the first thing you need to do is apply for government disaster benefits. Go to Disaster Assistance.gov to start your application. If you need help filling out the application or question about the government benefits process, please give me a call. I will work pro bono (for free) to help you get your process started or to answer any questions you might have about the process.
If you are out of work or improperly fired because of the storm, you may be eligible for Disaster Unemployment Benefits (DUA). Go to the Texas Workforce Commission and file for your unemployment or wage loss benefits. The sooner you file the better, there is a week wait before you can start receiving your benefits. Make sure you have all of your ducks in a row before filing. If there is a mistake, you will have to pay back the benefits your receive. Even more, they will actually go after you in collections if you fail to pay them back. If you need help filing for or receiving DUA, I am happy to help you prepare your application and get you back on your feet. I will answer any questions you have or help with your application pro bono.
Bad things happen to good people, and they are there to help. That is what insurance companies want you to believe, at least. In my experience, most insurance companies really only care about their bottom line. Indeed, some have made it a strategy to contest each and every claim filed under their policies no matter how clear their liability. And here we are again, nine years after the last hurricane and the same insurers are going to start denying claims based on the fact that the “water was wind-blown” as opposed to coming from the flooded bayou system.
After Katrina, several insurance companies were sued by the Louisiana Attorney General for denying proper insurance claims. The same thing happened for years after Hurricane Ike as well. I accept cases for hurricane insurance claims under contingency fee agreements. If you have been affected by the hurricane and need an attorney to force your insurer to pay you what you deserve, give me a call today for a free consultation.
What damages are you covered for?
Your home insurance policy should be the first thing you look at. It lays out all of the agreement between you and your insurer as to what their duties are and what they are required by contract to cover. Most homeowners policies cover your housing structure, the personal property inside the house, and some cover your living circumstances while repairs are being made. It all depends on what you agreed to with your policy
Most policies don’t include coverage for flood damages. Usually, you would need to get a separate flood insurance policy through the Federal Flood Insurance Program or your own private, underwritten policy. This can be a problem; because in my experience, try and read their policies as narrowly as possible to avoid paying out your coverage.
Your home has been damaged, what do you do?
First, get yourself and your family to safety. Things are replaceable, but life is not. Once that is settled, you should contact your insurance company to put them on notice that you have received damage. It’s important to not make any statements to your insurance company that could be used as grounds for limitation or denial of your claims. If you are concerned about that, contact an attorney first and let them handle the communications.
Next, you may want to contact remediation contractors or inspectors to get an independent view on what damage has happened.
Your claim has been pending for too long?
As of September 1st, 2017, the law will change to limit your access to bad faith denial of coverage claims. This does not mean they won’t be available, but the amount of damages you can receive for a bad faith denial will be reduced from the previous law. Regardless of the change, your insurer is still required to pay out your legitimate claim in a reasonable amount of time.
If you need assistance with your insurance company, a FEMA claim, or just help filling out forms for disaster assistance, give me a call. This has been a horrific time for the entire region. I want to do whatever I can to help the people of the Texas Coast recover as easily as possible.
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Houston, TX 77002
Ph. (281) 318-1277
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