Hurricane Harvey Property Damage Claim Handling Process
The Doan Law Firm
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:
- 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
- Follow the instructions that you receive from FEMA. These instructions
will be tailored to your individual claim.
- 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.
- 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