the nick of time

Experts share important tips for before and after Tropical Storm Nicholas

Experts share tips for before and after Tropical Storm Nicholas

Hurricane Harvey flooding in Houston
High water can mean big damage.  Photo by Allen Henson

For Houstonians, the tension of an incoming Texas storm is real — as any resident will no doubt worry about rain, flood, and wind damage to all property. Area experts have some pro tips for locals preparing for Tropical Storm Nicholas as it approaches the coast.

Currently, Nicholas appears to be a flood event more than a high-wind event, Albert Betts, executive director of the Insurance Council of Texas, tells CultureMap.

Betts reminds that it’s important to check coverage before these storms hit. “You don’t think about your insurance until you need it,” he says. “Flood insurance takes 30 days to take effect so it’s too late now if you don’t have it.” He also reminds scar owners to ensure they have comprehensive coverage — liability is no help in flooding.

Here are some helpful reminders as Nicholas makes its way to the Greater Houston area.

Document the goods
Professional organizer Julie Hibbs with Squared Away tells CultureMap news partner ABC13 that it’s important to document all home belongings with an extensive inventory, no matter what time of year.

“Knowing what you bought, where you bought it, what you paid for it is always great to validate when being reimbursed from insurance,” says.

While apps are available to compile a home inventory, a proven method is to make a list and take photos. “Start big with the really big items throughout your home,” Hibbs notes.

That means starting with the  most expensive items  with respective make, model, and serial numbers. “Appliances are huge. If they get damaged, you're probably talking a thousand dollars and up for anything you replace,” says Hibbs.

Furniture, sofas, and desks, expensive artwork, and even bedroom furniture and mattresses can add up quickly, Hibbs adds.

Identify actual coverage
Homeowners should know the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value, Lisa Luna Cabral, an insurance agent with Farmers, tells ABC13. “If you have actual cash value, they’re just going to pay you potentially what the depreciation cost is,” she says.

An example: A 60-inch television purchased in 2012 for $2500, may only be worth $400 with depreciation. A cash value policy will then only issue $400, she explains.

What to if there’s damage
Sources from the Insurance Council of Texas remind that lists and documentation are crucial when dealing with damage and offer these reminders:

  • Document your damages with photos, video and make a list of those damages which will enable the customer to have a more productive conversation with their adjuster.
  • Contact your agent or insurer and file your claim. Request information on your specific policy, your coverages, coverage limits and the deductible.
  • Document all conversations with your adjuster, contractors, and others who are key to your recovery. This enables better follow up and it sets timeline expectations.

Repair time
This can be tricky; the Insurance Council of Texas reminds to be vigilant and mindful when finding and working with contractors:

  • Identify your contractor through references, speak to your family, friends, neighbors and look at their online reviews.
  • Request at least two different estimates and compare the work and costs. An estimate should include a comprehensive line item of all repairs.
  • Don’t sign your insurance proceeds check over to a contractor – the insured has no protection at that point.
  • Pay your contractor in increments as the work is satisfactorily completed.

CultureMap will update this story as needed.

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