Your Guide to Tornado Insurance Claims in Texas: How to File & Ensure Fair Payout
Megan Simonsen | Feb 17, 2023
Texas is one of the most — if not THE most — tornado-prone states. While the exact number of incidents varies from year to year, there’s no doubt that tornadoes are something Texas property owners worry about. Just recently, thousands of Texas home and property owners were affected by a powerful string of them.
If your property has been damaged by a tornado, you’re probably anxious to fix it and wondering what the best first steps might be. Here’s some information on how to file a tornado insurance claim in Texas.
How to File a Tornado Insurance Claim in Texas: 8 Steps
Once a tornado occurs and damages your property, it’s important to act immediately. Don’t wait, as it could compromise the payout you receive from your insurer. Here are the first steps you should take.
1. Get Medical Assistance, If Needed
If you or anyone near you was injured as a result of the tornado, seek medical attention immediately. It’s important to make sure all people are safe before moving forward with the next steps. If you need shelter or emergency food and water, contact American Red Cross at (800) 733-2767.
2. Review Your Insurance Policy
Review your policy to see if your damages are covered or not, and how much your deductible is. Most homeowners and property owners' insurance policies cover storm damage, but it’s critical to check beforehand, so you have all the details before making a call. If your claim amount is less than your deductible, there’s no need to file a claim.
Policies can be difficult to read, so check out this article on How to Read a Homeowners Insurance Policy if you need help understanding.
3. Call Your Insurance Agent
Call your insurance agent to report the damage and file your claim. For company phone numbers, you can use the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)’s Company Lookup tool. During your call, don’t be afraid to ask questions about coverage, processes, and timeline.
4. Take Pictures and Video of the Damage
If it’s safe to do so, walk around your property and capture images and videos of the damage. Be thorough, capturing even the most minor damages. Your library of photos and videos will act as evidence and provide proof of how much your insurance should compensate you.
5. Make Temporary Repairs
Once you have taken plenty of photos and videos, make temporary repairs to your property so you can prevent more damage. It may take a while for a professional inspection and for the claim to be settled, so it’s important to keep things in the best shape possible in the meantime. This could include removing standing water, covering broken doors and windows, placing a tarp on your roof, etc.
For any repairs you make or relocation you need to pay for, make sure you keep all receipts.
6. Get a Professional Inspection
Once you contact your insurance company about the tornado damage, you might be contacted by a public insurance adjuster, who will ask you to sign a contract for their assistance in assessing damages — but beware! Public adjusters have no special ability to expedite a decision, nor can they do anything to ensure your claim is accepted and paid in full. Plus, there are some crooked public adjusters who will do everything to ensure your claim is denied or underpaid.
If you need help proving damages to your property, it’s best to hire a different professional. Roofers or other contractors are usually good, impartial choices. They’ll know how much damage occurred and what it will cost to fix it.
7. Diligently Follow Up
Per Texas law, there are deadlines for insurance companies to settle claims. However, most insurance companies will find ways to delay the process and leave you hanging without the finances you need to complete repairs.
Make sure you provide your insurance company with the information they request as quickly as possible. From there, follow up with them diligently. If your claim isn’t settled in a timely manner, you can report it to the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask For Help
If you’ve received notice that your tornado insurance claim has been denied or underpaid, don’t lose hope. Unfortunately, it’s common for insurers to avoid paying claims out. You should seek help from an experienced insurance dispute attorney. Most provide representation on a contingency basis, so they’ll only get paid if your claim is approved.
Need to Fight a Denied or Underpaid Tornado Insurance Claim? We Can Help.
The hardest part of suffering tornado damage shouldn’t have to be getting an insurance claim approved and paid out. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case for Texas homeowners. If your claim has been denied or underpaid, The Lane Law Firm is here to help you get what you’re owed.
After years of defending big insurance companies and helping them squash the little guys’ insurance claims, Chip Lane opened his own firm to serve families and business owners that need help. With his years of experience and knowledge of insurance companies’ tactics, he can help level the playing field and get your claim approved.