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Hurricane Harvey Property Damage Claim Handling Process

The Doan Law Firm

(833) FLOOD-LAWYER

1 Riverway Suite 2325

Houston, Texas 77056

Hurricane Harvey is now a memory, however unpleasant that memory may be, for all of us who live in southeastern Texas. But, as Texans, we have faced adversity before and we have united once again and will work together to repair our homes and businesses.

In today’s post, the flood property damage lawyer at the Doan Law Firm will give us an overview of how the insurance claim process works for those covered under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program. He will then explain your right to dispute a settlement offer.

Dealing with Flood insurance and FEMA After Hurricane Harvey

Most home mortgage lenders require borrowers carry flood insurance that is administered through the National Flood Insurance Program if the borrower lives 1) in an area that is prone to occasional or seasonal flooding or 2) lives in one of the Atlantic or Gulf Coastal states such as Florida or Texas. This requirement is meant to protect the lender’s investment should a mortgaged property be damaged or destroyed.

Although flood insurance is sold by individual private insurance agencies and brokers, any policy that was issued under the National Flood Insurance Program is administered by FEMA in partnership with those private agencies. In turn, FEMA has implemented its Enhanced Claims Process for those living in the August 25 - 27, 2017 Major Disaster Declaration area. FEMA has ordered its private insurance agency partners to:

  • Waive the initial proof of loss requirement.
  • Provide advance payments to those directly affected by hurricane damage, and increase such payments if the claimant can produce evidence (e.g. pictures, video, receipts) of their loss. These payments can be made before an adjuster’s first visit to the damaged property. Any money that is disbursed in advance will, of course, be deducted from any later insurance settlements that you receive.
  • Extend the “grace period” for late insurance premium payments

Once you “are in the system” and have completed the FEMA paperwork, an adjuster from the insurance agency that issued your policy will inspect your home and review any damage repair estimates that you may have from contractors or repair service. The adjuster will report will be used by your insurer to determine the dollar value of your claim and you will receive a check for that amount. In most cases this check will be issued jointly with your mortgage company or bank. This means that both you and an authorized agent of your mortgage company will be required to endorse the check before it can be deposited.

What are my options if I disagree with the settlement offer?

There are occasions when the homeowner, or the home mortgage lender will disagree with the flood insurance settlement offer. If this should be case, FEMA has established an administrative appeals process that is meant to resolve such disputes. The general appeal process involves several steps:

  1. When you receive your letter explaining why your settlement, or a portion of your settlement, is being denied you should respond in writing to FEMA, 400 C Street SW, 3rd Floor SW, Washington, D.C. 20472-3010, or by e-mail to FEMA-NFIP-Appeals@fema.dhs.gov. Be sure to include a copy of your letter of denial.
  2. Follow the instructions that you receive from FEMA. These instructions will be tailored to your individual claim.
  3. If you have not yet done so, arrange for an appraisal for your damaged home. When the appraiser visits, be ready to provide copies of any documentation that may be relevant in determining the extent of losses during the flood. The appraiser will submit his or her finding to both your insurance carrier and FEMA.
  4. If you are dissatisfied with the result of your appeal you have the right to file a lawsuit against your insurance company and, possibly FEMA itself. You must file your lawsuit within one year of the date the insurer denied all or part of your claim.

How a flood damage lawyer can help you after hurricane Harvey

As you can see, flood damage claims can quickly become a complex matter since you may be dealing with both your insurance carrier and FEMA at the same time. Due to the tremendous number of claims that are being filed each day, you can expect that your initial claim and any subsequent appeals may be delayed. To protect your rights in any dealings with FEMA or your insurance carrier, we suggest that you contact the flood damage lawyer at Doan Law Firm to arrange a free review of your case.

At the Doan Law Firm, we are committed to ensuring that our clients receive every benefit to which they are entitled. In your initial consultation with our flood damage lawyer, we will review the facts of your case and suggest the best options that may be available to you. To arrange your first consultation with our flood damage lawyer, please contact us at the address and phone number given below.

The Doan Law Firm (833) FLOOD-LAWYER 1 Riverway Suite 2325 Houston, Texas 77056

Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer

After an accident, the responsible party's insurance company may try to reduce the claim amount. Commonly, insurance adjusters are trained to get information from the injured to assist in reducing the claim. Though some insurers are less guilty of this practice than others, it is important to realize that insurance companies are profit-oriented corporations and reducing claims results in increased profits for shareholders. This can create a situation for the injured in which they are offered a settlement that does not truly reflect the damages suffered. If you accept this settlement, you lose the ability to get more money should your injuries require further medical treatments. It is critical that victims get legal assistance in any personal injury case, and The Doan Law Firm is prepared to fight relentlessly for your rights.

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