Hurricane season is going strong in the Atlantic Basin, and it’s just another thing to add to the list of potential hazards that cause personal injury and structural damage in 2020. Texas has now experienced their first major hurricane with Hurricane Laura which made landfall near the Louisiana and Texas border as a Category 4 hurricane.
Year over year, Texas sees its fair share of hurricanes and tropical storms. However, communities still haven’t fully recovered from the turmoil and financial damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. That’s why it’s more important than ever, given the tenuous times we are living in, that Texans understand why a Houston hurricane attorney might be in their best interest.
If you’re on the Texas Gulf Coast, or other areas of Texas prone to hurricanes, you may want to invest in a Texas hurricane lawyer, here’s why:
Why hire a Texas hurricane lawyer?
Hurricane Harvey was the second-costliest hurricane in United States history between 1900 and today, and it could happen again. The hurricane, which made landfall in Texas, affected millions of property owners. It wrecked homes, cars and lives in its path at an unprecedented level for Texans.
But it didn’t stop there. Harvey’s devastation broke another record, too. It was the wettest hurricane in history, releasing a daunting 27 trillions of tons of water onto Texas as it raged through Texas devastating what was in its path.
In the aftermath of Harvey, Texas saw new laws passed that made it more difficult for plaintiffs to settle a lawsuit over an insurance damage claim that includes full payment of their legal fees. Steeper penalties also applied to insurance companies, with the goal of reducing the number of frivolous suits that come through Texas courthouses.
For survivors of Hurricane Harvey, and of future natural disasters in Texas, this means there are new things to consider when making claims and seeking payment for damages. Sometimes a Houston hurricane attorney may be necessary to ensure you receive adequate compensation for property damage on insurance claims.
With hundreds of thousands of Hurricane Harvey claims, the Texas government initiated a “Help After Harvey” program that is geared at helping consumers get payments from insurance companies. If nothing else, that punctuates how important it is to have representation in Texas if you intend to seek damages on insurance claims that are drawn out, underpaid or denied completely.
Texas Insurance Law: Hurricane Coverage
Texas is one of several states that require certain hurricane losses be covered by a hurricane deductible. This is a separate deductible from one a homeowner would file for more typical property damage and losses. Texas requires insurers that cover a policyholder to provide coverage of damage due to windstorms. This is known as windstorm insurance and is available through private insurers who operate in Texas or via the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA).
Secondarily, Texans can purchase flood insurance. Texas law does not require policyholders to have flood insurance, but if someone is buying a new house on a mortgage loan, their lender may require flood insurance as a condition of the loan in exceptionally high-risk areas. While windstorm coverage is applied to any damage that could have been avoided if wind hadn’t damaged a structure, it doesn’t account for flood damage sustained through unsealed doors and windows and other vulnerabilities in the home that don’t stem from wind damage. For this reason, it’s favorable that Texas homeowners in risky areas invest in flood insurance, even though they don’t have to.
When should I hire a hurricane lawyer in Texas?
If you’re in Houston, or any part of Texas for that matter, you should call an insurance claim attorney immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Longer than typical time to hear back from insurance adjusters on your claim
- Outright denial of a hurricane-related claim by your homeowner’s insurance
- Asked to settle for an amount much lower than the value of the hurricane damage claim
- Receive incorrect information or believe the company may be operating in bad faith
Any of these could be a red flag, and in Texas, hurricane attorneys are important to ensuring your needs as a policyholder are met.
Hurricane Harvey Insurance Claims
Looking back at hurricane damage insurance claims filed under Hurricane Harvey, Texans can get an idea of what kind of vulnerabilities to their home they should watch out for. Here’s a list of different kinds of hurricane damage that could affect your home:
- Damage and destruction of buildings, homes, businesses and structures
- Flooding of residences and businesses
- Hurricane damage affecting rooftops and windows
- Water damage from exposure to elements due to wind damage
- Structural damage of the building infrastructure
- Wind and fire damage caused by hurricane conditions
- Total loss of personal and business inventory
- Alternative living expenses and lost profit
- Agricultural losses, like livestock or seasonal crops
Losses can be severe or even life-altering. That’s why you shouldn’t wait to contact an attorney to represent your hurricane damage claim against insurance companies who act in bad faith or make mistakes when handling your claim.
How To Hire A Hurricane Lawyer In Texas
When you hire a hurricane lawyer in Texas you want to make sure you come prepared. That’s why the process of hiring an attorney is more of a process of what to do before you make the call. Hiring an attorney is easy, but pursuing your claim could take longer if you aren’t prepared. Here’s how to hire an attorney in Texas, starting with what steps you should take before you call:
Step 1: Document Damage
It’s important to itemize damage and document the extent of your losses. Once it is safe to inspect your home, do so by surveying the entire home and taking pictures of the damage, as well as creating a list of inventory and determining where you experienced losses. These are things you insurance company will likely want to see to handle your claim, and are essential preparations for any attorney who is going to take on the insurance company.
Step 2: Be Prompt and Timely
Don’t wait to start documenting damage. Once it’s safe, begin assessing your property and taking photos right away. If the damage changes over time, for instance, unstable roof caves in, take photos of the progression of the hurricane damage to show the extent of damage from when you started the claim onward.
Step 3: Take Photos Of All Damage
No damage is too small when it comes to preparing to hire an attorney. Take pictures of all damages and losses no matter how insignificant you feel it may be. When it comes to hurricane damage, it’s better to have more documentation than not enough.
Step 4: Photograph Different Angles
Expanding on the previous point, don’t stop at a single photograph of a damaged area. Instead, get a picture from every angle you can. And take close-ups, as well as pictures from farther away. The goal is to fully record the extent of the damage and make sure that your attorney can see every part of the damage on your home, and so can the insurance company, which can help you avoid an insurance dispute.
Step 5: Pay Attention To Lighting
Hurricane damage to crawlspaces, attics, basements and other areas that may not be well lit can be tricky to photograph. When you’re assessing for property damage claims make sure to do so during the day when there is plenty of sunlight. If you are photographing an area that doesn’t get a lot of light, consider using a flashlight, or just your camera flash to make sure you have documentation that is usable.
Step 6: Find The Right Attorney
When hurricane damage gets bad, policyholders, like business owners or homeowners, should hire an attorney right away before an insurance dispute occurs. But how do you know who to hire? Look for these qualities in a hurricane lawyer to service all of your legal insurance policy needs in Houston, Galveston, Rockport or wherever you are on the Gulf Coast:
- Experience: Your attorney should have a history of successful cases where they represented Texans with insurance claims.
- Reputation: Attorneys know their reputation is everything. Before selecting an attorney make sure you do a reputation check by looking at reviews online and asking around to friends and family.
- Appraisal: A good hurricane damage claims attorney will send only the most experienced public adjusters and appraisers to inspect the damage on your home and ensure you get what you need to fix it. Your attorney knows insurance companies will have an adjuster working for them and you should too.
- Specialization: When dealing with hurricane damage, it’s important to work with someone who understands Texas insurance law, your insurance policy and how it applies to policyholders. Whether you are a homeowner, business owner or both, your attorney should be able to show you cases like yours that they have successfully prosecuted.
- Integrity: A good attorney operates with a high level of integrity. That’s especially important for Texas hurricane lawyers who often try cases where the court has to determine the outcome of an insurance dispute and if an insurance company acted in bad faith. This requires a level of skill, tact and integrity when presenting allegations that might be damaging.
- Relationship: Establishing rapport and trust are important to the attorney-client relationship. Consider how easy it is to communicate with the attorney and how you feel when you do. If you establish rapport early on, odds are you will be able to establish a comfortable relationship with your attorney.
By prioritizing experience, reputation, specialization, integrity and relationship you can ensure the very best attorney is handling your case. That’s exactly what you get when you partner with the law firm of Florin|Roebig.
Houston Hurricane Attorney: Support For Your Home and Business
The hurricane damage and insurance lawyers at the law offices of Florin|Roebig know that your claim is important. That’s why we have experts waiting to speak to you about hurricane damage in Houston, Galveston, Corpus Christi, Rockport and the surrounding Gulf Coast areas. If you’re in Texas and need a hurricane attorney, don’t wait, contact Florin|Roebig so we can get started on your claim today. Hurricane Laura caused catastrophic damage from not only wind, but flooding due to storm surge. No one wants to see the devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Ike, or Hurricane Laura, but if it does occur, you want the law offices of Florin|Roebig to be fighting for you. Call us today for a confidential free consultation with the hurricane property damage claim experts.