FIRE IS DEVASTATING! HERE IS HOW WE CAN HELP!
Q. Can I make repairs to my property immediately?
A. Generally, you should make temporary repairs to protect your property from further damage. Don't make permanent repairs until an adjuster has inspected the damage. Most policies cover the cost of necessary temporary repairs, so save your receipts for materials and labor. It's a good idea to take pictures of the damage before making temporary repairs. Read your policy or talk to your agent or insurance company for more information.
Q. What's the difference between the different types of homeowners policies? How does a dwelling policy differ from a homeowners policy?
A. Homeowners policies may either provide "all risk" or "named peril" coverage. All risk policies typically cover all perils except those specifically excluded by the policy. Named peril policies cover only those perils specifically named or listed in the policy. A homeowners policy provides coverage for the dwelling (the home's physical structure), personal property, and personal liability. A dwelling policy covers only the dwelling. Some dwelling policies might also cover personal property.
Q. What is replacement cost coverage?
A. Replacement cost coverage replaces your damaged dwelling and personal property with new items and without deducting for depreciation. In most cases, if your policy includes replacement cost coverage, you will only have to pay the deductible. See the Claim Payments section in this FAQ for an explanation of the replacement cost claim process. Some homeowners and dwelling policies automatically include replacement cost coverage for the dwelling; others add the coverage by endorsement for an additional premium. Some policies provide only actual cash value coverage. This means the policy will pay only the current market value for your property. For example, if you have a 10 year-old television set that's destroyed in a fire, an actual cash value policy will pay you only what a 10-year-old television set is worth. It won't pay you for a new TV. Read your policy or talk to your agent or insurance company to learn whether you have replacement cost or actual cash value coverage.
Loss of Use
Q. If I have to evacuate, will my homeowners policy pay for my additional living expenses?
A. It depends on the policy. Some policies pay for additional living expenses if a civil authority prohibits you from using your residence because of direct damage to neighboring premises caused by a covered peril. This coverage is generally limited to two weeks. Read your policy or talk to your agent to learn how your policy deals with additional living expenses.
Q. Will my homeowners policy provide loss of use coverage on my rental property during an evacuation ordered by civil authority?
A. Your homeowners policy may provide coverage for loss of fair rents or fair rental value if a civil authority orders an evacuation.
Q. Does a homeowners insurance policy cover my expenses if my home is uninhabitable because of damage from a fire or explosion?
A. Homeowners and renters policies usually cover some of your additional living expenses if you have to move temporarily because of a covered peril. ALE coverage typically pays the cost of staying in a hotel, motel, or other temporary shelter. Be sure to read your policy carefully or talk to your agent or insurance company to understand ALE coverage limitations. Policies will pay your additional living expenses only for a certain amount of time and only up to a specific dollar limit. If the damage forces you to move, be sure to tell your insurance company where you are and how to reach you by phone.
Q. There is a power outage in my area and we have no utilities in our home. Will my policy pay for a hotel until power is restored?
A. Probably not. A homeowners policy generally provides ALE only if your home is damaged by a peril covered in your policy and, because of the covered damage, the residence is unfit to live in.
Q. When does my loss of use coverage begin to cover my expenses?
A. Generally, for policies that include coverage ALE and loss of fair rents or fair rental value, coverage begins once a covered peril makes the residence premises wholly or partially unfit to live in. However, even if your policy includes ALE coverage, it may be some time before you are reimbursed for these expenses. Keep detailed records and receipts of all potentially reimbursable expenses. Read your policy or talk to your agent or insurance company to better understand how your ALE coverage works.
Q: Do I have to give receipts to the insurance company to get ALE? Does the insurance company have to advance me money for ALE?
A: Yes, you must submit receipts to the insurance company. The company is not required to advance you money, but many insurance companies will. Review the section of your policy that addresses ALE.
Q: If I received payment for a total loss but want to relocate and not rebuild my house, will I still receive ALE?
A: Yes. Most homeowners policies will pay your additional living expenses for the reasonable time required for your household to become settled. Review your policy.
Note: Coverage varies by policy. Read your policy carefully or talk to your agent or insurance company to understand your specific coverages.
Q. Is smoke damage from a fire covered?
A. Most homeowners policies cover damage to property caused by smoke from a fire.
Q. Will my homeowners policy pay for fire damage to my fence?
A. Most homeowners policies provide some coverage for fences under the "other structures" coverage.
Q. Does my homeowners policy cover my detached garage or storage shed?
A. It depends on the policy. Generally, coverage for other structures, such as a detached garage or storage shed that are set apart from the dwelling by a clear space, is included in the coverage for your insured dwelling. The total amount of coverage for other structures is usually 10 percent of the dwelling coverage. Some policies may not provide coverage for other structures, such as portable buildings or buildings that are used for business purposes.
Q. Will my homeowners policy reimburse me for service charges assessed by the fire department for responding to the fire at my property?
A. Depending on the policy, you may have some coverage for fire department service charges.
Q. Fire caused my tree to fall on my house, which caused damage to my roof. Does my homeowners policy cover the damage to my house and pay for the removal of the tree from my property?
A. Homeowners policies provide coverage for fire damage; therefore, the roof damage caused by the tree is covered. Most policies also pay to remove a tree if a covered peril caused it to fall on and damage covered property. Some policies limit the coverage for removal to $500 per tree and $1,000 per loss.
Q. Fire damaged some trees on my property. Will my homeowners insurance policy pay for the loss to and removal of the trees?
A. Yes. Fire is a covered peril for trees, shrubs, plants, and lawns. Most policies pay $250 to $500 per tree, shrub, or plant damaged in a fire, up to a maximum amount stated in the policy. Read your policy to learn the amount of coverage.
Q. The food in my refrigerator spoiled because of loss of power in my area. Will my homeowners policy pay for the loss?
A. Most homeowners policies will pay up to $500 for spoilage of refrigerated or frozen food caused by an off-premises power failure, if the power failure is a direct result from a peril covered in your policy. If the power failure is a result of physical damage to the dwelling or any equipment contained in the dwelling and is caused by a peril covered in your policy, coverage is not limited to $500. Some companies don't pay for a loss resulting from a power failure off premises unless added by an endorsement.
Q. Is there coverage for loss avoidance measures?
A. Most homeowners insurance policies provide some coverage for expenses and damage to covered property that you remove to ensure it doesn't receive more damage.
Q: Is clothing covered under personal property coverage?
A: Yes, clothing is part of your personal property.
Q. If I evacuate because of a fire and my personal property is damaged or stolen while in another location, will my personal property be covered by my homeowners policy?
A. Homeowners policies provide coverage for personal property while away from the insured location or premises. Most policies limit the amount of this coverage to either 10 or 20 percent of the total amount of coverage for personal property. Some policies limit theft coverage for personal property while away from the residence premises at any other residence owned by, rented, or occupied by you, unless you are temporarily living there. Generally, a personal automobile policy will not cover personal property.
Q. My home and all of my outbuildings and fences were destroyed in the fire. Does my insurance company have to pay me the full amount of my policy?
A. Under most property policies in Texas, if the insured property, other than personal property, is a total loss because of fire damage, the insurance company must pay the full amount under the policy for each destroyed item covered by the policy. This is known as "liquidated demand." For some property, like your home, the policy will include a dollar amount for the limit of liability. For other property, like other structures and fences, the coverage is often a percentage of the coverage limit for the dwelling. For example if your home is insured for $100,000 and the policy covers other structures for 10 percent of the dwelling limit, you would have $10,000 available for other structures.
If you have a mobileowners policy, or if you have insurance with a farm mutual or surplus lines insurance company, read your policy or talk to your agent or insurance company to determine whether it includes coverage for liquidated demand.
Q. What if only my home is destroyed and not my outbuildings. Will the liquidated demand provision in my policy apply?
A. Read your policy or talk to your agent or insurance company to determine specific coverage. Under most policies, you will only be paid for the damage to your home and to your trees, shrubs, and lawn in accordance with your policy's coverage limits. Liquidated demand does not apply to personal property.
Q. I got a check from my company for damages to my home. It's going to cost more to repair than the amount I received. Did they pay me enough for damages?
A. That depends on several things. If you have replacement cost coverage, your claim may be paid in two stages. Your first claim check will be for the actual cash value (ACV) of the damaged property. ACV is determined by taking the replacement cost for the covered loss and deducting for depreciation. Once you repair or replace your damaged property, the insurance company will pay the rest of your claim, up to your policy's dollar limits. This amount will usually not exceed the amount you spent to replace your property. You usually must complete repairs or replacements within a specific period of time, usually 180 to 365 days from the date of loss. Some policies let you extend that time frame if you request it in writing.
In most cases, if you adequately insured your property, you should only have to pay your deductible. If you believe your company is not offering you enough to repair or replace your property, you may ask for an appraisal. Have your company explain the basis for its payment and clarify if additional funds are forthcoming. It's important to review your coverage regularly to ensure that your home is adequately insured. Read your policy or talk to your agent or insurance company if you have questions about your policy limits or coverages.
If your policy does not include replacement cost coverage, you will probably only recover the actual cash value of the damaged property. This means you probably won't be able to buy a new item to replace the one you lost.
Q. What do I do it the insurance company issued my settlement check directly to my mortgage company? How long can a mortgage company hold money before releasing any to me? Can the mortgage company disperse the money in small increments? Can they withhold disbursements?
A. Your insurance company cannot make a check for a claim payable only to the mortgage company. If they do, you should not accept it and request that the check be reissued to you and your mortgage company jointly. If you still owe money on your home, the insurance company will most likely send the check to your mortgage company. Both you and the mortgage company will have to endorse it before it can be cashed.
The Texas Insurance Code requires your mortgage company to tell you what its requirements are for releasing the money to you. It must give you this notice within 10 days after it receives the check from the insurance company. Once you have given sufficient evidence to show that you have met those requirements, the mortgage company has 10 days to release the funds.
If you have a concern about a private mortgage lender, call the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357. You may also visit its website at www.ftc.gov. Additionally, you can call the Office of Consumer Credit at 800-538-1579 or visit its website at www.occc.texas.gov.
If the lender is a state-chartered savings and loan or bank, call the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending at 512-475-1350.
If the lender is a federal-chartered lender, call the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency at 800-613-6743.
In some instances, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can help. Call HUD at 800-225-5342.
Commercial Property FAQ
Loss of Business Income and Extra Expenses
Q. My business had to close because of fire damage. Will my commercial property or business owners policy cover my loss of business income or the extra expenses I incur to continue operations?
A. If your policy includes coverage for loss of business income or extra expense coverage, or if you have a separate loss of business income or extra expense policy, your loss of business income or the extra expenses you incur to continue your operations at your current location, or a temporary location, would be covered.
Q. My business did not suffer any direct damage, but I had to close because of evacuation orders by local authorities. Will my commercial property or business owners policy cover my loss of business income or the extra expenses I incur to continue operations?
A. If your policy includes coverage for loss of business income or extra expenses due to evacuation by order of civil authority, your loss of business income or the extra expenses you incur to continue your operations at your current location, or a temporary location, may be covered, depending on policy language.
Q. I had to close because an explosion cut off utility services at my business. Will my commercial property or business owners policy cover my loss of business income or the extra expenses I incur to continue operations?
A. Your losses may be covered, depending on policy language. Check with your agent or insurance company.
Q. My business had to close because of fire damage. Will my commercial property or business owners policy cover the damages to my buildings and business property?
A. Yes, fire and explosion are perils usually included in commercial policies.
Information obtained directly from: https://www.tdi.texas.gov/webinfo/westfaq.html