Florida Braces For Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian is expected to make landfall along Florida's west coast on Wednesday morning, after tearing through Cuba and leaving 11 million people without electricity. Residents of Florida's west coast are being urged to evacuate to safer ground, and those who remain in the area are being advised to stock up on supplies and prepare for power outages. Hurricane Ian is expected to bring heavy rains and strong winds to the area, which could result in significant damage to property and infrastructure, ultimately leading to a number of insurance claims. Hurricane warnings have been issued for: Polk, Lake, Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. Our attorneys at The Voss Law Firm are closely monitoring this storm, and are here to help with any denied, delayed, or underpaid insurance claims.Florida Braces For Hurricane IanAs of 9 a.m., Ian had strengthened to an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane, just 2 mph shy of Category 5 status. The storm is expected to cause life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds and flooding in the Florida peninsula. The center of Ian is forecast to pass west of the Florida Keys within the next few hours, and approach the west coast of Florida within areas under a hurricane warning on Wednesday. Some models are showing that Ian could make landfall as a strong Category 4 hurricane, with sustained winds up to 155 mph.“Clearly, this is a very powerful major hurricane that’s going to have major impacts, both on impact in southwest Florida, but then as it continues to work through the state,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said from the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee this morning. “It is going to have major, major impacts in terms of wind, in terms of rain, in terms of flooding, so this is going to be a nasty, nasty day — two days.”Latest Forecast TrackingHere’s the latest forecast track, including the so-called “spaghetti models,” which show the range of possible tracks based on various computer models:What is a Hurricane Warning?A Hurricane Warning is issued when hurricane conditions are expected within the warning area. This usually occurs 36 hours before the anticipated first occurrence of tropical-storm-force winds. These conditions can make outside preparations difficult or dangerous, so it is important to rush to complete any preparations to protect life and property. When a Hurricane Warning is issued, it is important to pay attention to local news and weather reports for updates on the hurricane's track and intensity. If a hurricane is likely to affect your area, you should take steps to prepare your home and property for high winds and flooding. Hurricanes can cause extensive damage, so it is important to be prepared before one strikes.Steps to Take When a Hurricane Warning is IssuedWhen facing the threat of a powerful hurricane, its always better to be proactive rather than reactive. The following are steps you can take to ensure you minimize damage to your property and loved ones.Prepare to bring inside any lawn furniture, outdoor decorations or ornaments, trash cans, hanging plants, and anything else that can be picked up by the wind.Understand hurricane forecast models and cones.Prepare to cover all the windows of your home. If shutters have not been installed, use precut plywood.Check batteries and stock up on canned food, first-aid supplies, drinking water, and medication.Bottled water: One gallon of water per person per dayAssemble a first-aid kitFlashlight and batteriesListen to the advice of local officials. If you are advised to evacuate, leave.Let Us Help You Get the Property Damage Compensation You NeedIf your home has been damaged and your insurance company refuses to pay, the Voss Law Firm can help. Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or get your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.
As of Monday morning, hurricane watches were in effect for parts of Florida. This comes as Ian strengthens into the fourth hurricane of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. AccuWeather forecasters have warned that the storm will only grow stronger in the coming days, with predictions that it will become a Category 4 behemoth in the Gulf of Mexico later this week. Those in the affected area are advised to take all necessary precautions and to follow any evacuation orders that may be issued. The Hurricane Center is urging those in the path of Ian to monitor its progress and to have a plan in place in case of severe weather. Ian Strengthens Into Category 1 HurricaneAs of 8 a.m. EDT Monday, Hurricane Ian had sustained winds of up to 75 mph and was moving northwest at 14 mph. Ian was located about 90 miles west-southwest of Grand Cayman Island and 275 miles southeast of the western tip of Cuba, the National Hurricane Center said. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 15 miles from the storm's center, while tropical-storm-force winds extended outward up to 90 miles.After a historically quiet start to the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season, a flurry of tropical activity in the past few weeks has changed the course of the season. Hurricane Ian is the latest storm to form in the Atlantic, and it is already causing waves of strong winds and heavy rain across the Caribbean. The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Florida on Thursday night as a Category 3 storm, bringing with it the potential for widespread damage and flooding."A quick uptick in strengthening is expected early this week as Ian moves into the western Caribbean, where low wind shear and very warm water are in place. This will raise the likelihood of significant impacts in the western Caribbean, and eventually the United States," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Adam Douty explained.Regardless of Ian's wind speed at landfall, major impacts are likely to come in the form of extremely heavy rain. As is often the case with hurricanes, Ian's heaviest rainfall is expected to fall east of the storm's center. Because of this, cities such as Tampa, Orlando and Jacksonville could all have a general 4-8 inches (100-200 mm) of rainfall, with locally higher amounts. Rainfall of this intensity can easily lead to street and river flooding, especially in low-lying areas. In addition to causing property damage, flooding can also lead to loss of life. For these reasons, it is important for people in the path of the storm to take necessary precautions and be prepared for the possibility of severe weather."Based on a track with the eye of a major hurricane just offshore of Tampa, the Tampa Bay area can expect a water level rise of 6-10 feet," AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski said.Let Us Help You Get the Property Damage Compensation You NeedIf your home has been damaged and your insurance company refuses to pay, the Voss Law Firm can help. Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or get your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.
What Homeowners Should Know Before Filing Claims for a Damaged HVAC System
No matter the season, a broken furnace or air conditioning system can make for an uncomfortable living situation. Most standard homeowners’ policies cover heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems damaged in a flood or a fire. However, they might not pay if the system stops working due to normal wear and tear. Attorney Bill Voss explains insurance options for HVAC systems and how to check your policy for potential coverage.Which Coverage Pays for Damage to the HVAC System?If your HVAC system was damaged due to a covered peril—such as a windstorm or lightning strike—your homeowners’ insurance policy should cover the costs of repairing the damage or replacing the broken unit with an equivalent or upgraded model.Different portions of your policy may apply to your claim depending on the cause and extent of the damage. For example, your claim may be paid under your:Dwelling InsuranceIf you have central air, forced-air heating, or a hydronic heating system, your HVAC system is part of the house and would be covered under dwelling insurance.Property InsuranceSince they aren’t installed in the home, space heaters, wall-mounted air conditioners, and window AC units are considered belongings and would be covered under personal property insurance.Equipment Breakdown InsuranceEquipment breakdown coverage is an optional endorsement offered on a homeowners’ insurance policy. It extends coverage to your appliances, HVAC systems, and other electrical equipment that stops working due to a mechanical or electrical failure. Coverage varies between policies, but equipment breakdown coverage may include failures from power surges, motor burnouts, short circuits, malfunctioning components, or problems caused by faulty installation. Like most add-on coverages, equipment breakdown insurance typically comes with its own deductible.Why Your Home Heating and Cooling Claim May Be DeniedEven if your homeowners’ policy extends to your HVAC unit, your insurer probably will not pay if the damage was primarily:Due to negligence. Your insurer pays for damages caused by a covered event only. Your claim might be denied if you made inadequate repairs that weakened the system or rarely performed maintenance.Related to the age of the unit. Most appliances aren’t meant to last a lifetime. Insurers may refuse coverage for heating or AC units after several years.Caused by a natural disaster. Insurers may not cover damage from widespread disasters, like earthquakes or mudslides.Cosmetic. If the system is still functioning, an insurer may not cover any aesthetic damage (such as pockmarks on the outdoor AC unit after a hail storm).Filing a Successful Claim for HVAC DamageIf you’re filing a claim for your heating or cooling system, there are steps you must take to get the company to pay for the damage:Gather documentation. You’ll need specific information about your home’s environmental systems, including the central unit's maker, model, and serial number. You should also have a full copy of your homeowners’ policy.Take pictures. Take photos of the damage to show its extent and keep a written record of the effects. For example, is the AC unit dripping? Is the air conditioning weaker, or has it stopped completely? A photo of the thermostat may also help show the temperature in the room.Meet with the adjuster. Insurance representatives may come to assess the damage and estimate the cost of repairing or replacing the unit. They will also investigate whether something other than a covered event could have caused the damage.Pursue the claim. If an insurer refuses coverage or offers less than the total value of your claim, speak with an experienced insurance claims attorney about your next steps.Let Us Help With Your Homeowners’ Property Damage ClaimDon’t accept the insurance company’s denial! The Voss Law Firm fights for residential policyholders and gets them the property damage coverage they need from an insurance provider.Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.Related Links:5 Tips For Dealing With Homeowner Insurance CompaniesWho Is Responsible For Hurricane Damage When Buying A Home?Texas Home Structural Fire? Don’t Let The Insurance Company Bully You
Will the Gulf of Mexico See a Hurricane Next Week?
A developing tropical system in the Gulf of Mexico has a high chance of spinning up into a hurricane by the middle of next week, forecasters warned Wednesday. "This is the most significant threat for the U.S. mainland we've had this hurricane season", Accuweather chief meteorologist Jonathan Porter said. The system was first spotted on Wednesday. Since then, it has gradually become better organized and is now expected to become a tropical depression later today or tonight.Forecasters Warn of 'Significant Threat' to USAs of right now, it appears that the system in the Caribbean has a high chance of becoming a tropical storm by the weekend. However, it is still too soon to tell whether or not the system will eventually become a hurricane. If it does become a named storm, it would be called Hermine. The majority of computer forecast models show the system strengthen into a hurricane by early next week before curling northward into the Gulf of Mexico.However, it is important to remember that these models are subject to change and that it is still too soon to make any definitive predictions. Regardless, everyone in the potential path of the storm should continue to monitor the situation and be prepared for any eventuality.Meteorologist Ryan Maue tweeted Wednesday that if the GFS computer model is right, "then this is what we're dealing with: A major hurricane in the eastern Gulf of Mexico with impacts to the Florida Panhandle. But, all interests along the Gulf Coast from Houston to Key West should monitor for next few days when we'll know more."AccuWeather released a statement today saying that it does not appear that the system currently making its way through the Caribbean will pose a threat to areas in the northeastern Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, which were hit hard by Hurricane Fiona over the past few days. Let Us Help You Get the Property Damage Compensation You NeedIf your home has been damaged and your insurance company refuses to pay, the Voss Law Firm can help. Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or get your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.
Hurricane Fiona Causes Territory-Wide Blackout
Hurricane Fiona Causes Territory-Wide BlackoutGovernor Pedro Pierluisi announced that the fragile power grid in Puerto Rico has created an island-wide crisis, as the territory's electrical system went completely out of service due to Hurricane Fiona. He stated that crews are working to restore power as quickly as possible, but the process will be slow and difficult. He urged all residents to conserve power and stay safe during this time. He also warned that there may be widespread power outages and disruptions in water service. He advised all residents to have a plan in place in case of an emergency. On Sunday afternoon, a transmission grid knocked out 1.4-million tracked residents of the island, according to PowerOutage.US. Outages were at over 500,000 residents Sunday morning before the territory-wide blackout. Internet outages across the island also spiked as the power went out. The Electric Power Authority is working to restore power to the areas that have been affected by the grid outage. As of Sunday evening, there was no estimated time of restoration for the power outage.The blackout comes just days after another major blackout on Thursday that left over 800,000 customers without power. That outage was caused by an electricity plant fire.Pierluisi and his constituents have been worried about massive power outages for years after the island's power grid was wrecked by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Fiona's path coincides with the 5-year mark since Maria left much of the island in ruins. Pierluisi is urging residents to be prepared for Fiona by stocking up on supplies and making sure their homes are in good repair. He also urges people to stay informed about the storm and follow any evacuation orders that may be issued. By taking these precautions, Pierluisi hope that his constituents will be able to weather the storm safely.A hurricane warning was put into effect for Puerto Rico on Saturday morning, and AccuWeather forecasters warned that strong winds and heavy rains could bring life-threatening conditions to the island. In addition to the high winds that helped lead to widespread power outages, destructive flooding was ongoing as heavy rain fell over the same areas for hours on end. Widespread damage was reported across the island, and many roads were impassable due to debris. Rescue workers were working to reach stranded residents, but the conditions made it difficult to get around. AccuWeather forecasters warned 8 to 12 inches of rain have already fallen over widespread areas on the island, according to the most recent observations. However, localized areas have had confirmed reports of over 20 inches of rain, with more still yet to come.Let Us Help You Get the Property Damage Compensation You NeedIf your home has been damaged and your insurance company refuses to pay, the Voss Law Firm can help. Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or get your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.
What Is Home Warranty Insurance and What Does It Cover?
Home warranties are different from standard homeowners’ insurance. Homeowners’ insurance pays for damage caused by unexpected perils, while a home warranty pays for service, repair, or replacement of vital home systems. Attorney Bill Voss explains what may be covered under your home warranty and how to get everything you’re owed when making an insurance claim.Is My House Covered by a Home Warranty?Home warranties are renewable service contracts issued by an insurance company. They’re often issued with the purchase of a house and typically last a year It’s a good idea to have both forms of coverage since home warranties pay for damage caused by regular wear and tear—a cost homeowners’ insurance won’t cover.If you have a home warranty, you must read your policy carefully to see what's included, as your policy covers only appliances and systems listed in the contract. For example, your home warranty policy could provide:Home Systems CoverageAir conditioning. Such as repairs and refrigerant replacement for central air and wall air conditioners (window units are excluded)Heating units. Including forced air (powered by gas, electric, or oil), enclosed hot water or steam heat, electric baseboards, room heaters, wall-mounted heaters, and other non-portable systemsDuctwork. Including fixing leaks or breaks in ductwork, plenums, and dampersInterior plumbing. Such as clearing clogs in sinks, bathtubs, showers, and toilets, replacing rusted or corroded pipes, and installing new faucets and valvesInterior electrical systems. Including main breaker, fuse panel box, direct current wiring, built-in exhaust or vent fans, doorbells, garage door openers, ceiling fans, or home security systemsWater heaters. (Conventional and tankless), including replacement components and building code modificationsToilet. Including repair, replacement, or clearing stoppages not caused by collapsed sewer lines or tree rootsRoof leaks. Caused by broken or missing shingles, dry rot, freezing and thawing cycles, or other normal wear and tearAppliance CoverageRefrigerators. Including correcting leaks and replacing ice machines, water filters, light bulbs, fans, and thermostatsClothes washers and dryers. Including drain pumps, tub bearing, heating element, drum roller, and motorCooking elements. Including repairing gas burners, ovens, cooktops, ranges, and built-in microwaves Dishwashers and garbage disposals. Including their drains, pumps, and valves Supplemental CoverageYou may be able to supplement your policy if your home has certain features or utility systems that can be costly to repair. Common add-ons include:Inground pools or hot tubs. Most components of unground pools and spas, including the pump, blower motor, plumbing pipes, and electrical wiring may be covered in a home warranty.Well pumps. Insurers may not be willing to pay for holding tanks or re-drilling a well, but all components of a well pump that serves as a water source to the home should be covered.Septic systems. Insurance may cover mainline stoppages that can be cleared without excavation, pumping out stoppages causing a septic backup, and replacing the sewage ejector pump.Electronic devices. A warranty may pay for damage to desktop and laptop computers, televisions, tablets, gaming systems, smart home systems, and computer accessories (such as external hard drives).A Home Warranty Insurer Could Act in Bad FaithHome warranties can provide much-needed coverage, but they’re still issued by insurance companies who want to protect their profits. Fortunately, Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act protects consumers from unlawful business practices and provides remedies for breach of a warranty.There are also legal remedies for policyholders whose claims have been unfairly denied or delayed. Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code allows homeowners to collect three times the value of a property damage claim if an insurer acts in bad faith.Let Us Help You Get the Property Damage Compensation You NeedIf your home has been damaged and your insurance company refuses to pay, the Voss Law Firm can help. Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or get your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.Related Links:5 Tips For Dealing With Homeowner Insurance CompaniesTexas Homeowner Benefits Under the Insurance Bill of RightsTexas Home Structural Fire? Don’t Let The Insurance Company Bully You
Will Your Homeowners Insurance Pay for Air Duct Cleaning and Repair?
The ductwork in your home is essential to your family’s health and comfort. Unfortunately, constant heat cycles in the winter and air conditioning in the summer can clog the ducts deep within your walls. Without regular maintenance, ducts can collect dust, hair, and mold and bring deadly spores and allergens into your home—or even pose a fire hazard. Duct cleaning can cost thousands of dollars, and many homeowners wonder if their property insurance could cover some of the expense. Attorney Bill Voss explains insurance options for duct cleaning and repairs and standard exceptions to coverage.A Home Warranty Is Your Best Bet for Ductwork RepairsHome warranty policies may cover ductwork on a recently-purchased home or a newly-installed HVAC system for a limited time. You can call the company that issued your home warranty policy and file a service request. If your policy covers ductwork, they will send a technician to check the damage. If your ductwork needs to be repaired or replaced, you should only be responsible for a co-pay or deductible.There may be some exceptions to your home warranty covering your ductwork. If it wasn’t installed properly or is the wrong size for the house, your insurer should have notified you of these problems after their initial inspection before buying the policy. Your claim will likely be denied if you knew about the problem but didn’t correct it.Homeowners Insurance Could Pay for Air Duct CleaningIf your home warranty doesn’t cover ductwork, your homeowners’ insurance could cover some or all of the cleaning and replacement services. However, the amount you receive may be influenced by:Cause of damage. Most homeowners’ policies will only cover damage related to a peril—a single event caused by an outside force. For example, if water soaks into your walls from a burst pipe, mold may grow and start to circulate through the air ducts. In this case, air duct mold removal may be covered. On the other hand, if flooding from rainwater has affected your pipes, it’s unlikely that your homeowner’s insurance will cover the damages.Coverage options. Hazardous conditions (such as mold) are usually only included under a policy when they stem directly from a covered peril. If you want mold itself to count as an active peril, you may be able to purchase add-on coverage for a relatively low increase to your monthly premiums. However, you may have to pay a separate deductible when it comes time to file a claim. Negligence. Insurers will deny claims for a hazardous condition in your ducts caused by something you did (or failed to do). For example, if your washing machine has a slow leak and you don’t get it fixed, you will have to pay for mold damage to the floor, walls, and air ducts out of your pocket.Caps. Even if your homeowners’ insurer agrees to cover the damage, there may be a cap on the amount they’re willing to pay for duct cleaning and mold remediation. Depending on the amount offered, it may be less costly to pay for the damage yourself rather than file a claim—especially if you have a high deductible.Failed maintenance. Homeowners are responsible for regular home maintenance, including having the HVAC system cleaned and inspected regularly. Insurance doesn’t pay for maintenance costs, so you must identify any leaking pipes or appliances, lack of airflow through the vents, or other concerns and fix them as soon as possible. They also may not cover mold damage after a covered event if you don’t take steps to protect the property from further damage, such as investing in a dehumidifier to prevent mold growth.Let Us Help With Your Homeowners’ Property Damage ClaimIf you have a significant repair cost and the insurance company denies your claim, the Voss Law Firm can help. We read your policy carefully to determine your policy limits and exclusions and demand full coverage from your insurance provider.Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.Related Links:5 Tips For Dealing With Homeowner Insurance CompaniesWho Is Responsible For Hurricane Damage When Buying A Home?Texas Home Structural Fire? Don’t Let The Insurance Company Bully You
Will an Insurer Cover Repairs After a Burst or Leaking Pipe Damages Your Home?
Water damage from a broken pipe doesn’t just ruin plumbing and carpets; it can also cause significant structural damage to your home or force you to relocate for several weeks until repairs are complete. Attorney Bill Voss explains what is and isn’t covered when internal flooding causes property damage to your home. Types of Insurance That Might Cover Water Damage to Your HomeFortunately, flooding from internal water sources like your own plumbing is included in most homeowners’ insurance policies. Standard coverage should provide payment for water damage:To the structure. Your Dwelling coverage pays for any damage to the structure of your home, including the roof, interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and floors. Dwelling insurance may also cover appliances built into the house, such as the furnace or boiler.That ruins clothes and furnishings. Property coverage reimburses homeowners for the cleaning, repairing, or replacing of damaged furniture or personal property. Items such as clothing, seating, tables, appliances, TVs, computers, or electronics should be fully reimbursed, but some high-end items may only be covered up to a specific limit.That makes your home temporarily unlivable. If your policy includes a Loss of Use clause, you can collect reimbursement for additional living expenses while temporarily displaced. Typical expenses include hotel bills, travel, and food.Possible Exclusions to Homeowners’ Water Damage CoverageInsurance companies are particular about what kinds and extent of property damage they will cover. If you’re filing a claim with your homeowners’ insurance company, you may be forced to pay for some or all of the losses out of your pocket due to:Gradual damage. Insurers only pay for losses stemming from a single event. If a slow leak caused the damage, your claim may be denied because you should have noticed the defect and remedied it before it caused significant damage. Insurance adjusters will investigate the site carefully for signs of rust or corrosion related to failed maintenance.Burst pipes in winter. Frozen pipes are a common cause of flooding, and these claims are generally covered. However, insurers impose exceptions if the pipe bursts because your home wasn’t heated properly or you completely shut off your hot water system. If your actions contributed to the accident, your claim for water damage due to frozen pipes may be denied because you should have been aware of the risk and taken care to prevent it.Drying and mold mitigation. Although mold is a common and hazardous side effect of flooding, many homeowners’ policies offer little to no mold damage coverage. Drying out wood, plaster, or drywall and preventing mold growth can cost over $10,000, but insurers often limit mold remediation payments to just a few thousand dollars. Sewage backup. Homeowners' insurance generally does not cover damage from a flooded or backed-up sewage system. However, additional coverage for a sump pump or sewer line backup may be available as a rider to your policy.High deductibles. Many people are never able to access the coverage they pay for because the total cost of the damage is less than the amount of the deductible. If your deductible is so high it prevents you from making a claim, consider changing your coverage or only placing high deductibles on optional coverage. Let Us Advise You on Your Homeowners’ Property Damage ClaimIf you have been paying your premiums for years only to have the insurance company deny your claim, the Voss Law Firm can help. We read your policy carefully to determine your coverage and negotiate fiercely with the insurance provider to get everything you are owed. Call us at (888) 614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.Related Links:5 Tips For Dealing With Homeowner Insurance CompaniesWho Is Responsible For Hurricane Damage When Buying A Home?Texas Home Structural Fire? Don’t Let The Insurance Company Bully You
Don't Let Insurance Companies Take Advantage of You
If you're like most homeowners, you probably don't think about your homeowners insurance policy very often. But when it comes time to file a claim, you could find yourself in for a rude awakening. Insurance companies often try to take advantage of homeowners by denying claims or offering low settlements. Our Texas attorneys at The Voss Law Firm go over best practices when dealing with insurance companies and the claims process.6 Tips to Maximize Your Homeowners Insurance ClaimWhen making a homeowners insurance claim, it's important to remember that insurance companies are looking to minimize their payout. As a result, the initial offer from the claims adjuster is likely to be lower than what you expect. Instead of accepting this offer, there are several steps you can take to ensure you receive a fair settlement.Choose the Right Homeowners Insurance PolicyThere are many factors to consider when choosing a homeowners' insurance policy. It's important to find a company you can trust, and to make sure you select a policy with sufficient coverage. If you purchase a policy with insufficient coverage, you'll likely be left with substantial out-of-pocket costs in the event of a total loss. Make sure to review your policy in depth to ensure it has the coverage you want and need. By doing so, you can help protect yourself financially in the event of a major disaster.Document EverythingOne of the most important things you can do after suffering property damage is to document everything. This means taking plenty of pictures, so be sure to take more than you think you need. Be sure to photograph not only the damage itself, but also any additional damage that may have been caused by the initial incident, such as cracks in the floor or bowing floorboards. In addition, take extensive, detailed notes about everything you can remember, including phone calls you have with the insurance company, neighbors, witnesses, or anyone else you may speak with over the course of the claims process. This will help ensure that you have a complete record of everything that happens and that all your bases are covered.Stay On Top of the Claims ProcessFirst, try to meet every deadline ahead of schedule. This will show the insurance company that you are taking the claim seriously and that you are organized. Second, make sure that you keep them updated at every step in the process. They will appreciate having all of the latest information, and it will help to avoid delays. Finally, if you incur any expenses in the course of trying to stop further damage or protect your property, be sure to keep those receipts. You may be able to add them to your claim for compensation.Gather Multiple Repair EstimatesWhen you experience damage to your home or property, it is important to reach out to several different contractors to get an estimate of the repair costs. This will give you a good idea of the range of costs you will be faced with. When the insurance adjuster gives you a settlement offer, make sure it falls in the mid-to-higher range of those estimates. Use the estimates and quotes from contractors to argue that the insurance company's settlement offer is too low for a quality repair.Consider Hiring a Public Claims AdjusterPublic adjusters are typically hired after a major disaster, such as a hurricane or tornado, when homeowners need assistance navigating the claims process. However, public adjusters can also be hired to handle smaller claims, such as water damage or theft. One of the main benefits of working with a public adjuster is that they can often help to speed up the claims process. They are also typically very familiar with the insurance company's policies and procedures, which can help to ensure that the policyholder receives a fair settlement.Hire an AttorneyIf you're not happy with the settlement offer from your insurance company, you may be considering hiring an insurance claims attorney. This can be a good decision, as an attorney can investigate your claim and help you fight for a higher settlement. In some cases, the insurance company may have made an error in their calculations, or they may be low-balling you in the hope that you'll take the offer. An experienced attorney will know how to find any errors and will fight to get you the compensation you deserve.Need Help Resolving a Claim?If you have suffered damage or loss after a storm in your Texas home and are being treated unfairly by the insurance company, contact an experienced insurance claim attorney to protect your legal rights and help maximize your claim. To learn more, contact The Voss Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation by using our contact form or by calling our office at 888-614-7730. The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholder’s rights for the past sixteen years, recovering billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case.
A Thousand-Year Rain Storm Floods Parts of Dallas
Parts of Dallas were flooded after a thousand-year rain storm this past weekend. The rainfall was so intense that the National Weather Service had to issue a flash flood warning for the area. Many homeowners were affected by the flooding, and some even had to be evacuated from their homes. Our Texas attorneys at The Voss Law Firm are here to help anyone who is in the claims process. Authorities are urging people in the area to stay off the roads, as many of them are still blocked by water. Crews are currently working to clear away the debris and repair the damage caused by the flooding.A Thousand-Year StormA series of “training” storms dropped torrential rain across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex from Sunday evening into midday Monday, August 20-21. At least one death was reported as of early Tuesday. The National Weather Service (NWS) received reports of up to 10 inches of rainfall in Haltom City, just northeast of Fort Worth. A portable rain gauge at DFW Airport recorded 6.6 inches in just six hours – the heaviest one-hour rainfall on record for August at the site. Doppler radar estimated that some areas likely received even higher totals. The deluge caused widespread flooding and prompted water rescues across the area. The period between about 1 and 2 AM on Monday was the wettest hour in 69 years of hourly data at DFW Airport, as 3.01″ of rain fell. There was more rain than DFW had in any entire month this year, from January through July, as noted by Maxar/WeatherDesk. There were several factors that contributed to this large amount of rainfall. First, a slow-moving storm system produced heavy rain over a prolonged period of time. Additionally, the storm system tapped into tropical moisture, which led to even more rainfall. As a result, the Dallas-Fort Worth area experienced record-breaking rainfall amounts. On Monday morning, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was inundated with heavy rains that caused widespread flash flooding. In Dallas alone, there were nearly 200 water rescues and countless disabled cars. However, the waters quickly receded as the rains shifted south and east. By Monday night, the Trinity River had spiked to moderate flood levels in downtown Dallas, but higher crests have been observed many other times, including as recently as 2018. Through August 9, DFW Airport had had no measurable rain for 67 days — the second longest dry spell in 126 years of record keeping for the urban area. Although immediate runoff and flash flooding can be accentuated over drought-parched land, the most intense rains in this case appeared to be localized enough to limit any broader river flood threat across the thirsty landscape.Need Help Resolving a Claim?If you have suffered damage or loss after a storm in your Texas home and are being treated unfairly by the insurance company, contact an experienced insurance claim attorney to protect your legal rights and help maximize your claim. To learn more, contact The Voss Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation by using our contact form or by calling our office at 888-614-7730. The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholder’s rights for the past sixteen years, recovering billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case.
Do You Know What You're Entitled to Under the Texas Policyholder's Insurance Bill of Rights?
When your insurance company issued your policy, you probably didn’t read the whole thing cover to cover. Many people never read the entirety of their homeowners’ insurance policy until they need to make a claim.Fortunately, all insurers in the state must include an overview of the insured’s rights under the law along with every policy. Property damage attorney Bill Voss explains essential provisions of the Texas Insurance Bill of Rights, including each party’s responsibilities and what policyholders can do if their rights are violated.Texas Homeowner Benefits Under the Insurance Bill of RightsThe first right you have as a homeowner is the right to accurate information upon request, both from the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and your insurance company. Texas law requires insurers to deal honestly with policyholders, prohibiting companies from making false, misleading, or deceptive statements about their insurance.Under the Insurance Bill of Rights, you also have the right to:Fair treatmentInsurance companies cannot deny you insurance based on your credit score alone. They cannot deny you insurance or raise your premiums after a prior appliance-related water or mold damage claim as long as the damage was repaired and certified.Independent property inspectionIf an inspector issues you an inspection certificate verifying that your property meets insurance requirements, insurers cannot deny coverage based on property conditions without performing another inspection.Timely notification of premium increasesIf your insurer plans to increase your premium by 10% or more, they must send a rate increase notification at least 30 days before your renewal date. In addition, insurers cannot increase the amount of automatic monthly payments from your bank without written notice at least 30 days before the effective date.Notification of reduced coverageInsurance companies cannot reduce coverage during the policy period (unless you requested the change) without notifying you at least 30 days before the policy renews.Explanation of denialYour insurer cannot deny coverage or cancel your policy without issuing a written notice including the specific risk factors, incidents, or circumstances that influenced the decision.Limited cancellationYour insurance company must mail a cancellation notice at least ten days before the cancellation date. If your dwelling policy has been in effect for 90 days or more, there are only four situations where insurers can cancel the policy: nonpayment of premiums, filing a fraudulent claim, sudden increase in hazards that affect your premium rate, or because continuing the policy would violate insurance laws.Continued coverageIf your marital status changes, insurers must continue to provide approved coverage or create a new policy with similar coverage and the same expiration date. These policies cannot be dated in a way that reflects a coverage gap.Timely receipt and response to claimsWithin 15 calendar days of a claim submission, your insurance company must 1) acknowledge receipt of your claim and 2) request additional information needed to process your claim. After receiving the requested information, the insurer must approve or deny your claim in writing within 15 business days. If your claim is approved, your insurance company must issue payment within five business days of approval notification.Prompt payment from lending agentsIf an insurer sends your claim check to your lender or mortgage company, the lender must notify you within ten days of receiving the payment. Once you request that the funds be released, the lender has just ten days to either issue a full payment or tell you what requirements must be met to get the money released. If the lender fails to meet its obligations, it could be liable for the payment plus 10% interest per year.Hire a lawyerPolicyholders have the right to seek an attorney’s advice if they are being mistreated or have been offered an unfair valuation by an insurance company.Let Us Determine the Next Steps in Your Property Damage ClaimOur attorneys have been holding insurance companies accountable for years, negotiating fair settlements and filing bad faith lawsuits on behalf of our clients. To see how Voss Law Firm can help you, fill out our contact form or call us at 888-614-7730. You can also get more information on your claim by reading our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.Related Links:5 Tips for Dealing With Homeowner Insurance CompaniesWho Is Responsible for Hurricane Damage When Buying a Home?Our Attorneys Encourage Homeowners to Shop for Insurance Rates
Will the Texas Drought Ever End?
This weekend, residents of Texas can expect to see some relief from the dry conditions that have been plaguing the state. Heavy rainstorms are expected to move in, breaking a heat wave that has been affecting the region. However, while the wetter weather will provide some respite, it is not enough to fully end the state’s drought. Drier conditions are expected to return in September, and nearly the entire state is still in a prolonged drought. This means that 26 million Texans are still living in conditions that are only getting worse. Texas had Fifth-Driest July this YearTexans are all too familiar with the impacts of drought. With the state's reservoirs 20% below average levels, farmers struggling to grow crops, and more than 400 cities imposing water restrictions, the lack of rainfall is having a major impact across the state. While residents and homeowners are being asked to conserve water, many are concerned about how long the drought will continue. As the drought in Texas continues, residents are being forced to take drastic measures to conserve water. In Concan, an unincorporated area in Uvalde County, residents are limited to one short shower per day. Vehicle washing and above-ground or portable pools of any kind are prohibited. And residents in the county must report leaks immediately and cease outside watering. The water systems are shut off between midnight and 6 a.m., and the county is busing in thousands of gallons of water to keep the region from going dry. “I would say it’s clearly the worst we’ve had since the 2011-2012 drought,” said Victor Murphy, climate service program manager for the federal National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration.According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 62% of Texas is currently facing an extreme drought, with 27% of the state experiencing an "exceptional drought."A Weather Break is Not EnoughDespite a break in the 100-degree weather, the long-term forecast is bleak according to NOAA's three-month drought outlook report released Thursday. The report shows that there are better chances of rain in September for the state, but most of Texas would still be leaning below average for rainfall. This is bad news for residents and homeowners who have been struggling with the drought conditions that have plagued the state for months.The lack of rain has led to dry conditions and wildfires, which have caused extensive damage to property and wildlife. With the outlook not looking promising, residents will need to continue to conserve water and take other measures to prepare for the possibility of another dry summer.As the drought continues, residents and homeowners are finding themselves facing an unexpected problem: an increase in water line leaks and main breaks. While the drought is undoubtedly taking a toll on our natural resources, it may also be to blame for the recent uptick in water infrastructure problems. As the soil expands and contracts due to dry conditions, it puts pressure on the pipes underground. This is especially true for older pipes, which are more likely to break under duress. Need Help Resolving a Claim?If you have suffered damage or loss after a storm in your Texas home and are being treated unfairly by the insurance company, contact an experienced insurance claim attorney to protect your legal rights and help maximize your claim. To learn more, contact The Voss Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation by using our contact form or by calling our office at 888-614-7730. The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholder’s rights for the past sixteen years, recovering billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case.
Texas Hurricane Insurance Guide
As a homeowner in Texas, it is important to be aware of the available insurance options in the event of a hurricane. Our Texas attorneys at The Voss Law Firm provide an overview of the different types of insurance policies available and what you can expect from each. It is important to note that coverage may vary depending on your location, so be sure to contact your insurance provider for specific information. With hurricane season in full swing, now is the time to make sure you are fully protected.Hurricane Insurance in TexasAs a homeowner, you know that your home is one of your most valuable investments. And in coastal regions like Texas, hurricane insurance is a must to protect your home from wind and water damage. Most standard homeowners policies include some coverage for hurricane damage. But there are a few exceptions, especially for homeowners in Texas. The trouble is there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to hurricane insurance coverage. Hurricane insurance is not a specific policy type, but rather a package of insurance products that can include windstorm and flood coverage. Together, these policies can protect your home from the damage that a hurricane can cause. If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, it is important to make sure that you have adequate insurance coverage. Texas Insurance Requirements It is important to remember that hurricane insurance does not exist as a policy by itself, but is instead a type of coverage that can be included in other policies such as homeowners insurance, flood insurance, or windstorm insurance. In the state of Texas, hurricane insurance is not required by law. However, lenders may require borrowers to purchase this type of insurance as part of the home loan process. Windstorm Insurance CoverageIf you live in an area along the Gulf Coast where hurricane winds are the strongest, your home insurance policy may not cover wind or hail damage. In this case, you would need to purchase a windstorm policy from a private insurance company or the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. This type of policy would provide coverage for wind and hail damage.Homeowners InsuranceHome insurance is not required by law in the state of Texas; however, your lender will require you to have it if you borrow money to purchase your home. As a homeowner, it is ultimately up to you to decide whether or not you want to insure your home; however, it is always advisable to err on the side of caution. However, standard homeowners insurance policies may not provide enough coverage for certain types of disasters. For example, hurricanes can create high winds, heavy downpours, and storm surge, which can cause extensive damage to your home. If your home is damaged by a hurricane, you may need to purchase a separate policy to cover the cost of repairs. Flood Insurance CoverageAs anyone who has lived through a hurricane can attest, storm surge is a serious risk for coastal homeowners. Flooding from heavy rains can also be a problem further inland. Unfortunately, standard homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. That's why it's important to have flood insurance. Flood insurance is specifically designed to cover the losses that can occur when your home is flooded. How Texas Hurricane Insurance WorksHomeowners insurance is one of the most important types of insurance for people to have. Not only does it protect your home and belongings in the event of a fire or theft, but it also helps to cover the cost of repairs if your home is damaged by severe weather. However, in the state of Texas, homeowners insurance alone is not enough to protect against the risk of hurricane damage.If you live in an area that is susceptible to hurricanes, it is essential to purchase separate hurricane insurance in order to be fully protected. Homeowners, flood, and windstorm insurance work together to protect you and your family from financial devastation following a hurricane. Otherwise, you may find yourself with significant out-of-pocket expenses in the event that your home is damaged by a storm.Need Help Resolving a Claim?If you have suffered damage or loss after a storm in your Texas home and are being treated unfairly by the insurance company, contact an experienced insurance claim attorney to protect your legal rights and help maximize your claim. To learn more, contact The Voss Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation by using our contact form or by calling our office at 888-614-7730. The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholder’s rights for the past sixteen years, recovering billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case.
Could AI be the Answer For Delayed Claims?
When it comes to homeowner's insurance, customers are quick to file a claim if they experience any type of damage to their home. However, carriers are at risk of losing premiums from these dissatisfied claimants if they do not handle the situation in a timely and proper manner. Our Texas attorneys at The Voss Law Firm discuss the importance of timely communication with insurance following a claim and how the insurance industry is evolving. One-Third of Claimants Are Not Fully SatisfiedA new study from Accenture has found that poor claims experiences are costing insurers billions of dollars in lost premiums. Translating the level of dissatisfaction into an eye-opening dollar figure, Accenture said $170 billion in premiums are at risk over the next five years as these customers may switch carriers as a result of unsatisfactory claims experiences. The research report published last week found that one-third of claimants were not fully satisfied with their most recent insurance claims experience. The report added that speed of settlement is a clear pain point for policyholders. The research report contains a chart which illustrates rising levels of dissatisfaction as the time to settle increases. The data shows that while just 17 percent of those whose claims were wrapped up within two days were dissatisfied with the speed of claims handling, once the duration went beyond a week, the dissatisfaction percentages rose to 31 percent and higher (reaching 39 percent for three months or more). This suggests that there is a clear link between the length of time it takes to settle a claim and customer satisfaction levels. Could AI be the Answer?The report, "Why AI in Insurance Claims and Underwriting," draws insurers' attention to the benefits of artificial intelligence, which the report authors describe as transformative technology. Noting the aging of the insurance workforce is happening at the same time as advances in AI, they assert that the time is now for insurers to invest in AI capabilities—stressing, however, that AI should be used "responsibly, in tandem with humans." “AI solutions can improve settlement time by enabling digital and self-service claims processing that dramatically enhance customer experience and accelerate processing,” the report says, noting that “many leading insurers have invested heavily into this aspect, creating omni-channel environments that leverage the use of chat bots, rich text messaging, [and] guided scripting for agents.”The report provides an overview of how AI is being used in the insurance industry, with a focus on the life and property/casualty segments. It includes survey responses from claims executives and underwriters in 13 countries, detailing the benefits and challenges of AI implementation. The report highlights a number of AI use cases in both the life and property/casualty segments, providing insights into the potential of this technology in the insurance industry. Overall, the report provides a helpful overview of AI in insurance, and will be of interest to those working in this sector.“Incorporating AI and automation into the underwriting workflow is a prime opportunity to reduce time spent on administrative tasks, manual processes, and redundant data inputs,” the report says. Describing an “intelligent underwriting solution” as one that includes submission ingestion, data enrichment, triage, appetite fit and propensity-to-bind scoring, the report notes that this kind of AI allows underwriters to focus time on core activities like risk evaluations of submissions, which in turn leads to claims being resolved quicker.Do You Have a Claim?If you’re tired of fighting with an insurance company, the Voss Law Firm can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call us at 1-888-614-7730 or complete our contact form today to get answers to your questions, or start reading your copy of our free book, Tricks of the Trade: How Insurance Companies Deny, Delay, Confuse, and Refuse.
Home of Former Seahawk, Raven Earl Thomas Catches Fire in Texas
The Orange Fire Department was dispatched to the scene of a house fire at around 9:30 PM on Tuesday night. Deputy Chief Payton Smith told reporters that, upon arrival, firefighters found the home engulfed in flames. Fortunately, the homeowner, Thomas, had already escaped and was unharmed. However, due to the dense vegetation on the property, firefighters had difficulty extinguishing the blaze. Officials believe that the fire was caused by a lightning strike, but are investigating further. No injuries were reported and an investigation is ongoing. Local media captured images of the home in the South Texas city of Orange near the Louisiana border.The Cause of the Fire is Still UnknownThomas was a key member of the Seahawks' defense for many years, making six Pro Bowls and five All-Pro teams. He played a pivotal role in the team's Super Bowl victory in 2014, but his time with the Seahawks came to an end on acrimonious terms. After suffering a season-ending leg injury in 2018, Thomas was unhappy with the way that the Seahawks had handled his contract situation.He made his feelings clear by flipping off the Seahawks sideline as he was being carted off the field. While some interpreted this as a gesture of disrespect towards the team, Thomas later explained that it was directed specifically at head coach Pete Carroll. Regardless of the intent, it was clear that Thomas' days with the Seahawks were numbered. A Texas native, Thomas played football at the University of Texas before joining the NFL in 2010. With preseason starting this week, Thomas remains a free agent.Need Help Resolving a Claim?If you have suffered damage or loss after a fire or other disaster in your Texas home, and are being treated unfairly by the insurance company, contact an experienced insurance claim attorney to protect your legal rights and help maximize your claim. To learn more, contact The Voss Law Firm, P.C. for a free consultation by using our contact form or by calling our office at 888-614-7730. The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholder’s rights for the past sixteen years, recovering billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case.