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Navigating insurance claims after storm damage

Navigating insurance claims after storm damage
Navigating insurance claims after storm damage 02:28

NORTH TEXAS — For many North Texans dealing with storm damage, Wednesday marks the beginning of navigating the insurance process. 

The Insurance Council of Texas says its member agencies have already received about 40,000 claims from property and car owners in North Texas for weather events from May 22 to May 28.

High winds knocked trees into homes and on top of cars Tuesday morning.

"When I looked outside, I saw this, and I was like oh this is real, we gotta get the kids downstairs and in the closet," said Oscar Puente, whose truck is now almost completely covered by a fallen tree after severe storms swept through his family's Dallas neighborhood. "At the end of the day, it's just a truck. The most important thing is the family. As long as they're safe and the house is safe, we can deal with the insurance claim on the truck."

If you're dealing with some of the fallout from the severe weather, the best thing to do is contact your insurance company immediately to report what happened.

"Go ahead and document any kind of damage you have, whether that's your car or your home," said Richard Johnson, with the Insurance Council of Texas. "Take pictures of it, list it out, take video of it if you can."

Johnson encourages property and car owners to make any necessary initial repairs to prevent further damage. If you have to buy tarps or other supplies or hire a company to take care of the clean-up, save those receipts. 

"But you don't want to make any type of permanent repairs until someone has come out to see the damage or you get the call, go ahead and start making repairs," said Ben Gonzalez with the Texas Department of Insurance.

Make sure to do your research before hiring someone. After weather catastrophes, fraud spikes in North Texas as people try to take advantage of the situation. 

"Make sure you're working with people you trust that are licensed and insured," Johnson said. "Hopefully your friends and neighbors have used them. That's maybe a good resource to get recommendations."

If you got lucky and didn't get any damage from this round of storms, use it as an opportunity to review your insurance policies. This is often a time when people realize they're underinsured or get surprised by their deductibles.

For example, if a tree has fallen on your car, you won't get any type of reimbursement unless you have comprehensive coverage.

"Your liability and your collision isn't going to cover any of those acts of nature damage that you might see in these scenarios," said Johnson. "Make sure you're properly covered. And if you feel your rates are going up, shop. We have plenty of companies doing business in Texas, so shop around and try to find the best deal and the best coverages that meet your lifestyle."

What if it's your neighbor's tree that fell on your property and caused damage? You still file the claim with your insurance company. For the most part, your neighbor is not going to be held responsible for an act of nature.

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