Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of our employees, clients, and friends affected by Hurricane Harvey and the devastation caused by the storm. Your personal safety, and that of your family and loved ones, is our top priority and concern.
Once the storm has passed, and as your business begins to think about next steps following Hurricane Harvey, we have put together a list of some FAQs that may assist you with potential property and automobile insurance claims. Jackson Walker is committed to assisting its clients with any specific needs relating to their insurance policies so that you may get back to business quickly and safely.
1. When should I make a claim on my policy(ies)?
Promptly after you learn that your business has suffered damage to its property/vehicles. In order to preserve the potential right to recover the higher interest penalty if a lawsuit becomes necessary, the insured must file a written claim with its insurer, via e-mail or fax, on or before August 31, 2017. For more information, see the article summarizing and explaining House Bill 1774 below.
2. What if I don’t have a copy of my policy?
You do not need a copy of your policy to make a claim. Contact your broker or the insurance company directly; they can likely look up your policy by your company’s name, principal address, and other identifying information to begin the claims process.
3. What information do I need to provide to my insurance company?
Describe the damage to your property. Also let them know whether your business operations have been impacted by the storm (e.g. locations closed). The insurer will ultimately need additional information and documentation to process the claim. Accordingly, you should preserve any damaged property and document your losses, including photographing or videoing damage to your property when it is safe for you to do so.
4. When should I expect to hear from an adjuster?
In the event of a catastrophe or natural disaster, insurance companies are statutorily required to contact you within 30 days after you make a claim (an additional 15 days beyond the normal deadline). Practically, they will likely contact you much sooner, but may prioritize claims based on the severity of each insured’s damage.
5. Do I have coverage for the damage to my business property?
The terms of your policy may vary, but if you have flood insurance, that policy will likely cover flood damage to your property. Standard business property policies do not generally cover flood damage, but will often cover other types of weather-related damage (e.g. wind damage to a roof).
6. Do I have coverage for the damage to my company’s vehicles?
If your business auto policy includes “physical damage coverage,” then your company vehicles may be covered for flood and other weather-related damage.
7. Will my insurance company cover losses to my business caused by the storm?
It is unlikely that your policies will cover “business interruption” losses resulting from floods. Flood insurance does not generally cover business interruption losses, and standard business property policies typically exclude coverage for flood damage. However, if your property sustained damage from wind or other causes of loss that are covered by your business property policy, then you may also be insured for business interruption losses if you purchased that coverage.
8. How will Texas House Bill 1774 affect my claim?
HB 1774 does not change how insureds file a claim or how the insurer is required to process the claim. Please see this article summarizing and explaining House Bill 1774.
9. Other helpful links:
Texas Department of Insurance’s “Help After Harvey” resource found at: http://www.tdi.texas.gov/consumer/storms/helpafterharvey.html
Federal assistance for filing claims under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) found at: https://www.disasterassistance.gov/
Texas Department of Insurance resource to find your insurance agent’s contact information: https://txapps.texas.gov/NASApp/tdi/TdiARManager
10. Who can I call with other questions?