Following up on an e-mail we sent to you Tuesday, my staff and I have put together some updated information that might be helpful to you in recovering from this storm, which you can find below. Please copy or forward this to any friends, family or neighbors for whom you think this information might be helpful. If you have any questions, problems or need additional information, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 713-520-5355 and ask for Ryan or Edwin.

Electricity: I have been in constant contact with Centerpoint staff since Saturday morning to make sure that they are aware of damage and safety issues in District 147 and beyond. I have been advocating on your behalf with Centerpoint for a quick restoration of electricity to your neighborhood. Centerpoint officials have told me that neighborhoods in North, East and South Harris County have transmission and distribution lines down and that these neighborhoods will take the longest to repair. If you live in one of these neighborhoods, please prepare for your electricity to be out for potentially two weeks.

Centerpoint has also released a timeline on when the expect power to be restored to various ZIP codes, which is below:
The following zip codes are estimated to have substantial power restoration by the end of day on Friday, September 19:
77065, 77094, 77095, 77354, 77355, 77356, 77362, 77375, 77377, 77382, 77384, 77418, 77420, 77423, 77429, 77430, 77433, 77434, 77435, 77441, 77444, 77445, 77449, 77450, 77461, 77468, 77469, 77471, 77474, 77479, 77482, 77484, 77486, 77488, 77493, 77494
The following zip codes are estimated to have substantial power restoration by the end of day on Monday, September 22:
77024, 77031, 77032, 77039, 77040, 77041, 77042, 77050, 77055, 77072, 77077, 77079, 77080, 77082, 77083, 77084, 77092, 77099, 77336, 77338, 77339, 77346, 77357, 77365, 77373, 77386, 77396, 77459, 77477, 77478, 77479, 77511, 77515, 77534, 77577, 77583
The following zip codes have sustained extensive damage, and will therefore have a restoration timeline that extends beyond Monday, September 22:
77002, 77003, 77004, 77005, 77006, 77007, 77008, 77009, 77010, 77011, 77012, 77013, 77014, 77015, 77016, 77017, 77018, 77019, 77020, 77021, 77022, 77023, 77025, 77026, 77027, 77028, 77029, 77030, 77033, 77034, 77035, 77036, 77037, 77038, 77040, 77044, 77045, 77046, 77047, 77048, 77051, 77053, 77054, 77056, 77057, 77058, 77059, 77060, 77061, 77062, 77063, 77064, 77066, 77067, 77068, 77069, 77070, 77071, 77073, 77074, 77075, 77076, 77078, 77081, 77085, 77086, 77087, 77088, 77089, 77090, 77091, 77093, 77096, 77098, 77379, 77380, 77386, 77388, 77389, 77401, 77422, 77459, 77489, 77502, 77503, 77504, 77505, 77506, 77507, 77510, 77515, 77517, 77518, 77520, 77521, 77530, 77531, 77532, 77534, 77535, 77536, 77539, 77541, 77545, 77546, 77547, 77550, 77551, 77554, 77563, 77565, 77566, 77568, 77571, 77573, 77578, 77581, 77583, 77584, 77586, 77587, 77590, 77591, 77598

CenterPoint said that once the above is completed, 80 percent of the power will be restored to the region.

Assistance from FEMA

To ensure reimbursement, we would encourage you to apply for assistance from FEMA even if you are not certain if you qualify.  You can apply for federal assistance through FEMA either online at www.fema.gov or by calling the FEMA toll-free call centers at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362).

Hotel and Motel Assistance: FEMA is currently providing assistance to allow eligible Ike evacuees from Texas, who cannot return to their homes, to stay in hotels or motels until it is safe for them go home. In order to qualify for assistance,
1. FEMA must be able to verify the identity of the evacuee;
2. The primary residence of the evacuee must be in one of the counties that has been designated a disaster area; and
3. The primary residence is inaccessible or unlivable due to damage or lack of power.
Other assistance available from FEMA includes:
• Temporary Housing (a place to live for a limited period of time): Money is available to rent a different place to live, or a government provided housing unit when rental properties are not available.Go to www.fema.gov to search for information about housing rental resources or click here.

• Repair: Money is available to homeowners to repair damage from the disaster to their primary residence that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to make the damaged home safe, sanitary, and functional.

• Replacement: Money is available to homeowners to replace their home destroyed in the disaster that is not covered by insurance. The goal is to help the homeowner with the cost of replacing their destroyed home.

• Permanent Housing Construction: Direct assistance or money for the construction of a home. This type of help occurs only in insular areas or remote locations specified by FEMA, where no other type of housing assistance is possible.
What Specific Items are Covered by “Housing Needs” Assistance?

“Housing Needs” assistance is assistance from FEMA that may be used to repair any of the following:

Structural parts of your home (foundation, outside walls, roof).

Windows, doors, floors, walls, ceilings, cabinetry.

Septic or sewage system.

Well or other water system.

Heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system.

Utilities (electrical, plumbing, and gas systems).

Entrance and exit ways from your home, including privately owned access roads.

Blocking, leveling, and anchoring of a mobile home and recon-necting or resetting its sewer, water, electrical, fuel lines, and tanks.

Do I Qualify for “Housing Needs” Assistance?

To receive money or help for “Housing Needs” that are the result of a disaster, all of the following must be true:

You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster by the president.

You have filed for insurance benefits and the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance or your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your losses.

You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.

The home in the disaster area is where you usually live and where you were living at the time of the disaster.

You are not able to live in your home now, you cannot get to your home due to the disaster, or your home requires repairs because of damage from the disaster.

You may not be eligible for “Housing Needs” assistance if:

You have other, adequate rent-free housing that you can use (for example, rental property that is not occupied).

Your home that was damaged is your secondary or vacation residence.

Your expenses resulted only from leaving your home as a precaution and you were able to return to your home immediately after the incident.

You have refused assistance from your insurance provider(s).

Your only losses are business losses (including farm business other than the farmhouse and self-employment) or items not covered by this program.

The damaged home where you live is located in a designated flood hazard area and your community is not participating in the National Flood Insurance Program. In this case, the flood damage to your home would not be covered, but you may qualify for rental assistance or items not covered by flood insurance, such as water wells, septic systems, medical, dental, or funeral expenses.

Other than Housing Needs
Money is available for necessary expenses and serious needs caused by the disaster. This includes:
• Disaster-related medical and dental costs.

• Disaster-related funeral and burial cost.

• Clothing; household items (room furnishings, appliances); tools (specialized or protective clothing and equipment) required for your job; necessary educational materials (computers, school books, supplies).

• Fuels
for primary heat source (heating oil, gas).

• Clean-up items (wet/dry vacuum, dehumidifier).

• Disaster damaged vehicle.

• Moving and storage expenses related to the disaster (moving and storing property to avoid additional disaster damage while disaster-related repairs are being made to the home).

• Other necessary expenses or serious needs as determined by FEMA.

• Other expenses that are authorized by law.
Do I qualify for “Other than Housing Needs” Assistance?

To receive money for “Other than Housing Needs” that are the result of a disaster, all the following must be true:

You have losses in an area that has been declared a disaster area by the President.

You have filed for insurance benefits and the damage to your property is not covered by your insurance or your insurance settlement is insufficient to meet your losses.

You or someone who lives with you is a citizen of the United States, a non-citizen national, or a qualified alien.

You have necessary expenses or serious needs because of the disaster.

You have accepted assistance from all other sources for which you are eligible, such as insurance proceeds or Small Business Administration disaster loans.

Insurance: At the bottom of the e-mail is a helpful list of frequently asked questions from the Texas Department of Insurance for those concerned about claims they may need to file. Please be sure to scroll to the bottom of this e-mail to read this helpful information from the Texas Department of Insurance. You can also read those frequently asked questions by clicking here. TDI’s Consumer Help Line (800-252-3439) is operating with extended and weekend hours until further notice: Mon through Fri 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sat 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sun 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Ice, food and water: Below is a list of Point-of-Distribution (POD) locations that have fresh water, ice and meals-ready-to-eat (MREs). This list is from Harris County and is current as of Thursday, Sept. 28; check the Houston Chronicle daily for up-to-date lists of POD locations as they are likely to change. If you run into trouble with PODs running out of supplies, please let us know by e-mail at garnetcoleman@garnetcoleman.com or by phone at 713-520-5355.

POD Locations (on Thursday, September 18)

1. Harvest Time Church – 17770 Imperial Valley 
2. Lomax Jr High School  – 9801 North Avenue L, 77571 
3. West Town Mall – 4100 Decker Drive 
4. Veterans Stadium – 2901 Dabney 
5. Clyde Abshire, Deer Park Football Stadium – 710 West St. Augustin @Center 
6. Bay Area Community Center – 5002 NASA Road #1, 77586 
7. Jim Fonteno Courthouse Annex – 14350 Wallisville, 77049 
8. San Jacinto Community Center – 604 Highland Woods, 77562 
9. Community of Faith – 1023 Pinemont Dr., 77018 
10. Ripley House – 4410 Navigation, 77011 
11. Sharpstown Mall – 7500 Clarewood 
12. Robertson Stadium at U of H – 360 Scott (Lot 12A) 
13. Greater Jerusalem – 8901 Jensen, 77093 
14. Fountain of Praise – 13950 Hillcroft,77085 
15. Zion Lutheran – 3606 Beauchamp, 77009 
16. Baytown Courthouse Annex – 701 West Baker Road, 77521 
17. Church Without Walls – 5314 Bingle, 77092 
18. Grace Community – 14505 Gulf Freeway, 77034 
19. S. Houston Community Center – 1007 State St, 77587 
20. St. Agnes Baptist Church – 3730 S. Acres Dr., 77047 
21. New Light Church – 7317 East Houston, 77028 
22. Humble Civic Center – 8233 Will Clayton Pkwy., 77338 
23. Houston Community College SE – 6815 Rustic Avenue @ 45 & Woodridge 
24. Cinemark Tinsel Town – 11450 East Fwy, 77029 
25. Kipp Academy Houston – 9634 Mesa, 77078

Houston Public Library Branches with Internet Access: As of 2:30pm, September 18, the following Houston Public Library branches were open and have free internet access and wi-fi:
• Central Library – 500 McKinney (Downtown), 832-393-1313
• Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research – 5300 Caroline (Third Ward/Museum District), 832-393-2600
• HPL Express Discovery Green – 1300 McKinney, R2 (Downtown), 832.393.2660
• Julia Ideson Building – 500 McKinney (Downtown), 832-393-1313
• Kendall Neighborhood Library – 14330 Memorial Drive (West Houston), 832-393-1880
• McGovern Stella Link Neighborhood Library – 7405 Stella Link (Near Reliant Stadium), 832-393-2630
• HPL Mobile Express will be at these locations 10 AM to 7 PM
◦ McCrane-Kashmere Gardens Neighborhood (5411 Pardee St.) – Thursday, September 18
◦ Bracewell Neighborhood Library (10115 Kleckley, near Alameda Mall) – Friday, September 19
Volunteering: Also below is a list of contact information for organizations providing help for Houstonians in need. If you are able, please consider donating money, time, clothing and/or food to any of these organizations.

Red Cross
(713) 526-8300
2700 Southwest Fwy, Houston, TX 77098

Houston Area Urban League
(713) 393-8700
1301 Texas Ave, Houston TX 77002

Neighborhood Centers, Inc.
(713) 667-9400
Central Office: 4500 Bissonnet #200, Houston, TX 77005

United Way of Greater Houston
(713) 685-2300
50 Waugh Drive, Houston, Texas 77007

End Hunger Network
(713) 532-3663
2445 North Freeway, Houston, TX 77009

Emergency Food Assistance Information from HHSC :
If you are from a Hurricane Ike disaster area and you don’t already get food stamps:
·          You might be able to get emergency help if you lost income this month due to the storm. A family of 4 earning up to $2,915 this month might be able to get help.
·          What we will need from you when you apply:
1.       Proof of your identity and home address, such as a driver license.
2.       Answers to questions about your family’s income and resources
·          Those who can get food stamps will get 2 months of benefits. If you can give more proof of income and resources, you might get benefits for a longer period.
·          You must apply by Oct. 17 by doing one of the following:
1.       Visiting an HHSC benefits office .
Download an application, fill it out and take it with you to the benefits office. English | Spanish
This is the fastest way to get help. If you can get benefits, you might get a Lone Star Card the same day.
2.       Going online at www.YourTexasBenefits.com .
You will need to register to use the website to send in an application.
3.       Calling 2-1-1.
You can get more information about getting food stamps and might be able to apply by phone.
After you dial 2-1-1, press 1 for English or press 2 for Spanish. Then press 2 for “Information about food stamps.”
If you can’t call 2-1-1 on your phone, call 1-877-541-7905. Both numbers are toll-free.
·          What we will need from you when you apply:
1.       Proof of your identity and home address, such as a driver license.
2.       Answers to questions about your family’s income and resources. A family of 4 earning up to $2,915 this month might be able to get help.
Maximum Monthly Food Stamp Amount

Family Size 

Monthly 
Food Stamp 
Award 

1
$162
2
$298
3
$426
4
$542
5
$643
6
$772
7
$853
8
$975

For each additional person, add: 

$122

Counties Declared Hurricane Ike Federal Disaster Areas:
Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Chambers, Cherokee, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Hardin, Harris, Houston, Jasper, Jefferson, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Newton, Orange, Polk, Sabine, San Augustine, San Jacinto, Trinity, Tyler, Walker, Waller and Washington.
As of 12:30pm on Thursday, Sept. 18, only two HHSC offices were open in Houston:
• 2110 Telephone Road
• 12121 Westheimer
We will send you updates as more HHSC offices open across our area.

Disaster-related Unemployment Insurance (from the Texas Workforce Commission): The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has announced that as a result of Presidential Disaster Declaration, TWC is accepting applications for Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) from individuals whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted due to Hurricane Ike starting September 7, 2008, and continuing. Applications for DUA must be filed by Wednesday, October 15, 2008. 

To file for disaster-related unemployment assistance, individuals may log on to http://www.texasworkforce.org. or call the nearest TWC Tele-Center from Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Central Time at (800) 939-6631.

My staff and I are in contact daily with the governor’s office and other emergency response officials and will send more updates as we receive them. Again, if you have any questions, problems or need additional information, don’t hesitate to contact my office at 713-520-5355 and ask for Ryan or Edwin.

Sincerely,

Garnet Coleman

2008 Disaster Assistance to Consumers Frequently Asked Questions (from the Texas Department of Insurance)

Auto FAQs
Q. My car was flooded. How do you determine if your car should be totaled?
A. Whether your car will be totaled is determined on a case-by-case basis like any other loss. Normally, when the cost of repair plus the salvage value equals or exceeds the actual cash value of the vehicle prior to the loss, it will be considered a total. A primary factor is the amount of water in your car. Generally, if water covered your dashboard or electrical components, the car will be totaled.

Q. My car was totaled due to flood damage and I have full coverage on it. The company is going to pay the Blue Book value but I still owe substantially more than that. Doesn´t the company have to pay what I owe on the auto?
A. No. The company is only obligated to pay the current market value of your vehicle. You can request that the adjuster explain to you how the value was derived to ensure that all of the vehicle´s equipment, features, upgrades and recent work was considered in determining the value. To cover the difference between the market value of your vehicle and what you actually owe, you would need an endorsement or separate policy, to provide Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) coverage.

Q. What will happen to the vehicle´s title if my car is totaled?
A. If you own the vehicle outright, you will have to sign the title over to the insurance company. In exchange, they will give you a check for the market value of the vehicle. If you still owe on a car loan, the insurance company will coordinate with you and your lender to have the title signed over to them.. In most cases, the insurance company will establish contact with the lender and be advised of the amount owed on the loan. If the insurance company has determined that the market value of the vehicle is $10,000 and the amount owed the lender is $8,000, the insurance company will issue a check for $8,000 to the lender to release the lien on the car. The insurance company will then issue a $2,000 check to you to obtain your signature on the title.

Q. The insurance company requested that I tow my flooded vehicle to a specific location for inspection. Am I responsible for the towing charges?
A. No. The insurance company should pay the towing expense by reimbursing you or paying the tow truck operator once the vehicle is delivered at the inspection site. You should not be responsible for the expense since you are assisting the insurance company in a prompt inspection of your vehicle, as well as protecting it from further damage.

Q. The insurance company agreed to repair my vehicle. Can the company require the use of used parts?
A. In some cases, used parts and after market parts may be permissible, depending on the age, condition, and mileage of the particular vehicle. Most Texas personal automobile policies require the insurance company to pay the lesser of the following: actual cash value of the property; the amount to repair or replace the property with other of like, kind, and quality; or the amount stated in the declarations page of the policy.

Q. Since my car was flooded, I had to rent a vehicle. Does my auto policy cover the cost of renting a car?
A. Your policy will provide coverage for renting another vehicle only if you have an endorsement on your policy for Rental Reimbursement Coverage. Under this coverage, the insurance company will pay up to the limit shown on the endorsement for the reasonable amount of time it takes to repair or replace your vehicle.

Q. Is my vehicle covered for flood damage?
A. Only if you carry Other than Collision coverage, also called Comprehensive coverage, on your policy. This information can be found on your policy´s declarations page. If you do not have a copy of your policy, you may wish to check with your agent or company.

Q. What if I do not agree with the settlement offered by the insurance company, particularly the market value amount for my totaled vehicle?
A. Ask the adjuster to explain how the settlement amount was derived. If you still disagree, the Personal Auto Policy allows you to demand an appraisal of the loss. There is a specific provision in the policy for appraisal which lists the responsibility of both parties.

Q. My car was washed away in the flood. How do I find out where it is now?
A. Contact the Unclaimed Autos department of the area police department. Also, your vehicle may have been towed to a storage facility without your consent. If the vehicle was towed without your consent, and the storage facility wants to charge you a fee, you might contact the Texas Department of Transportation at 1-800-285-6997 (general information line).

Q. I´ve received a check from the insurance company, but am not satisfied with the amount. I plan to file a complaint to request additional funds be paid. Should I cash the check? If I cash the check, does it mean that I accept their decision and amount of payment?
A. Be careful about endorsing a check before discussing your concerns with the company. Call the adjuster or company first before cashing the check. Some companies have a release from further liability disclaimer printed on the back of the check.

Q. How does replacement cost coverage work?
A. Replacement cost coverage replaces or repairs your damaged property with new material and/or items of like kind and quality.

Q. Is replacement cost coverage available on all policy types?
A. Replacement cost coverage is not available under a typical auto policy.. Some insurers provide new car replacement for a limited number of years if the auto is insured when new. You should check with your agent or company to see if they offer replacement cost coverage on all policy types.

Q. If an insured vehicle is financed, how are claim checks issued? If issued to both insured and lien holder, how does insured collect?
A. The loss payee endorsement requires the insurer to pay to the insured and the loss payee as their interest may appear. The insured and the loss payee may both be named on the check. The insured and the loss payee will agree on the release of funds.

Q. What is the insured´s recourse if the check made payable jointly to the lien holder and insured is sent directly to th
e lien holder and cashed without the insured´s knowledge or endorsement on the check?
A. That is a legal question that TDI cannot answer. However, your first step would be to contact the insurer and your lien holder. You can also contact the Texas Department of Banking at 1-877-276-5554 or visit their web site at www.banking.state.tx.us.

Q. What determines if a flooded vehicle should be totaled?
A. It is determined the same as any other loss. Normally, when the cost of repair plus the salvage value equals or exceeds the actual cash value of the vehicle prior to the loss, it will be considered a total loss.

Q. Does the insured have to agree to have their vehicle totaled if they will be “upside down” on their loan?
A. The policy contract states how the loss will be paid and it is the insurance company that decides whether or not to total a car. If the cost to repair exceeds the actual cash value, the company will pay the actual cash value of the vehicle. The insured and the insurance company may negotiate the settlement in which the insured may retain the salvaged vehicle; however the insured would be responsible for the cost of repairs at that point. Insurance coverage for the difference between the actual cash value of a vehicle and the outstanding loan amount can be covered by a GAP (Guaranteed Auto Protection) endorsement or a separate GAP policy.

Q. Describe how the title on an insured vehicle is processed if the vehicle is determined to be a total loss from flood damage or from collision damage.
A. For information about how titles are processed, please contact the Texas Department of Transportation at 512-465-7611.

Mobilowner/Mobile Home FAQs
Q. Are there different types of policies that provide coverage for mobile homes?
A. Yes, mobile homes may be written on a various types of policies, including a homeowners policy. The majority of mobile homes are currently written on a mobilowners policy. You should check with your agent or company to see what type of policy you have.

Q. Wind caused my tree to fall on my mobile home and damaged my roof. Does my mobilowners policy cover the damages to my home and would the company pay to remove the tree from my property?
A. If your policy provides coverage for windstorm it will pay for the damage to your roof. The tree itself will not be covered. Most mobilowners policies provide a limited amount of debris removal coverage. Some companies may provide an option to increase coverage. You should contact your agent or company regarding debris removal coverage.

Q. Does my mobilowners policy provide Additional Living Expense?
A. Most mobilowners policies provide some additional living expense reimbursement in the event the mobile home is damaged or destroyed from a peril or perils insured against by the policy and the mobile home is thereby rendered uninhabitable. Some companies may provide an option to increase this coverage. It is important that you contact your agent and/or company regarding your additional living expense coverage.

Q. My mobile home was flooded. Will my mobilowners policy pay for my damage?
A. Some mobilowners policies do provide coverage resulting from a flood. Other mobile home policies exclude flood coverage. It is important to check your policy and/or contact your agent regarding flood coverage for your mobile home.

Homeowner FAQs
Q. Can I make repairs to my property immediately?
A. Generally, you should make temporary repairs if necessary to protect your property from further damage. Do NOT make permanent repairs until an adjuster has inspected the damage. Your policy covers the cost of necessary temporary repairs, so save your receipts for materials and labor. You may wish to take pictures of the damage before making temporary repairs.

Q. What do I do if my home is uninhabitable?
A. If you can´t remain in your home because of loss from “a covered peril,” your homeowners or renters policy will pay for staying in a hotel, motel or other temporary shelter. However, payments are limited based on policy provisions. If the damage does force you to move, be sure to tell your insurer where you are and how to reach you by phone. Also, leave a note at your damaged residence telling the insurance adjuster how to find you.

Q. My home was not flooded by rising water; however, the sewer line backed up and caused damage in my home. Is this covered under my homeowners policy?
A. It depends on your policy. Some policies exclude water or sewage from outside the residence premises plumbing system that enters through sewers or drains. Contact your insurance company or agent regarding coverage.

Q. My house was flooded and I placed my furniture and household items in the front yard to dry out, but they were stolen. Will my homeowners policy cover this loss?
A. It depends on your policy. Even though there is an exclusion for flood losses, many policies contain an exception to that exclusion such as “We do cover an ensuing loss by theft or attempted theft or any act of stealing.”  Contact your insurance company or agent regarding coverage.

Q. My policy states that if a claim results from a weather-related catastrophe or a major natural disaster, each claim-handling deadline… is extended for an additional 15 days.” Does this mean that I have coverage under my policy for damage caused by the flood?
A. This language does not alter or amend what is covered by the policy. It merely extends the time requirements of the Texas Insurance Code.

Q. Under a homeowners policy, who determines the cause of damage and who pays for an expert if one is needed?
A. The insurance company usually determines the cause of damage as its adjusters investigate and evaluate the loss. If an expert is required to determine the cause of the loss, the cost is usually borne by the insurance company, but in some cases may be paid by the insured.

Q. My house got water in it from the flood. I had damage to the roof and the roof is sagging and rain water came in through the roof. I don´t have flood insurance, but I do have homeowner´s insurance. What, if anything, may be covered under my homeowner´s policy?
A. If a covered peril such as wind or lightning caused damage to the roof and created an opening, then water damage to your home and personal property resulting from rain water coming through that opening may be covered under the standard homeowners policy.

Q. I´ve received a check from the insurance company, but am not satisfied with the amount. I plan to file a complaint to request additional funds be paid. Should I cash the check? If I cash the check, does it mean that I accept their decision and amount of payment?
A. Be careful about endorsing a check before discussing it with the company. Call the adjuster or company first before cashing the check. Some companies have a release from further liability disclaimer printed on the back of the check. The check may be a partial payment to initiate repairs. Additional funds may be released when you submit proof that repairs have been completed.

Q. How does replacement cost coverage work on policy types such as flood, homeowners, dwelling, and mobile home?
A.  Replacement cost coverage replaces/repairs your damaged dwelling or personal property with new material and/or items of like kind and quality.  In most cases, you should only be responsible for paying the deductible.  Some homeowners and dwelling policies automatically include replacement cost coverage for the dwelling; others may be endorsed for an additional premium; and some may only provide actual cash value.  Companies may also offer replacement cost coverage for mobile home policies.  You should check with your agent or company to see if your company offers replacement cost coverage on your policy.

Q. I´ve received a check from my company for damages to my home. It is going to cost more to repair than t
he amount received. Did they pay me enough for damages?
A. If you have replacement cost coverage, you should only be responsible for paying your deductible in most cases. If you believe your company is not offering an amount sufficient to repair/replace your damaged property, minus your deductible, you may want to request appraisal in accordance with the provisions in the policy. Have your company explain the basis for its payment and clarify if additional funds are forthcoming.

Q. What´s the difference between the different types of homeowner 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 is used to describe policies that typically cover all perils unless specifically excluded in the policy. Named peril means the damage must be caused by a peril that is specifically named or listed in the policy. The homeowners policy provides coverage for the dwelling, personal property, and personal liability. A dwelling policy provides coverage for the dwelling and/or personal property.

Q. Do checks from insurance companies have to be endorsed by both the insured and the mortgage company? Does the same procedure apply to mobile homes?
A. Insurance claims payments for damage to property that is security for a loan must be made payable to the policyholder and the mortgage company, so they would require endorsements from both parties.

Q. What recourse does the insured have if the check was issued directly to the mortgage company? How long can a mortgage company hold money before releasing any to the insured? 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 refuse to accept it and demand the check be re-issued to you and your mortgage company.

The Texas Insurance Code provides that the mortgage company must, within 10 days after they receive the insurance proceeds, tell you what their requirements are in order to have the funds released. Once you have provided sufficient evidence to show that you have met those requirements, the mortgage company has 10 days to release the funds.

Q. Are plumbing problems/backed up toilets covered by any types of insurance, even after a flood?
A. Some homeowners policies provide coverage for accidental discharge, leakage or overflow from within a plumbing system and if rising flood waters cause toilets to overflow, the loss may be covered. Contact your insurance company or agent regarding coverage.

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. The policy will normally only provide loss of use coverage if your home is damaged by a peril covered in your policy and, as a result of the covered damage the residence premises is untenantable or unfit to live in. You must check the specific language in your insurance policy.

Q. I bought my house several years ago and last year my mortgage was bought by another mortgage company. My original company provided flood insurance, but now I find that the new mortgage company did not provide it. What can I do?
A. Mortgage companies are required by statute to ensure that a property in a flood zone has flood insurance. A mortgage company must provide notice to the borrower of the requirement of flood insurance. If the borrower fails to purchase flood insurance, then a mortgage company may purchase flood insurance for the property. For information regarding the statute, contact the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) representative at a Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) or the NFIP. Remember that it is important as a homeowner to ensure that all necessary insurance coverage is in place.

If you have a concern about a private mortgage lender, you should contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 214-767-5501 or 5503. You may also reach the FTC at www.ftc.gov.
If the lender is a state-chartered savings and loan, or bank, contact the Texas Savings and Loan Department at 512-475-1350.
If the lender is a Federal Chartered Lender, contact the Office of Thrift Supervision at 972-281-2000.
In some instances, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can help. Call HUD at 1-800-669-9773.
Q. Wind 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. If your policy provides coverage for wind, the roof damage caused by the tree is covered. Homeowners policies will not pay for the tree itself; however, most policies 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. Contact your insurance company or agent regarding coverage.

Q. My neighbor´s tree fell down on my house and damaged my roof. Will my neighbor´s homeowners policy pay for the damage to my home and remove the tree?
A. Probably not. Your neighbor is not legally liable for an act of nature.. However, if the tree was dead, your neighbor may be responsible for the damage to your home. If your neighbor´s policy does not pay for your damage, you can make a claim under your policy if the peril that caused the tree to fall is a covered peril in your policy. You should contact your agent and/or company regarding the damage.

Q. Some trees blew down in my yard during a storm. Will my homeowners insurance policy pay for the loss to and removal of the trees?
A. No. Wind is not a covered peril for trees, shrubs, plants and lawns. Removal of the trees is not covered either since they did not fall on or damage covered property.

Q. A windstorm blew my fence down. Will my homeowners insurance cover loss of my fence?
A. If your policy provides coverage for wind, you may have coverage for the fence. Coverage for fences is usually limited to actual cash value which is the replacement cost for the damaged property less depreciation. Some policies do not provide any coverage for fences damaged by wind. You should check your policy and/or contact your agent regarding coverage.

Q. Who should I contact if I have damage to my home as a result of a windstorm and my windstorm insurance is provided through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)?
A. For questions on policy coverage or filing a claim on your TWIA policy, please contact your insurance agent or contact the TWIA at 1-800-788-8247 or via their website at www.twia.org.

For questions regarding inspections of your property for certification to the Windstorm Building Code, please contact the Texas Department of Insurance Windstorm Inspection unit at 1-800-248-6032 or refer to the website at www.tdi.state.tx.us and click on More Windstorm Info.

Q:  What coverage do I have for my house and personal property under my TWIA policy?
A:  Generally, the TWIA Dwelling Policy provides coverage for direct physical loss to your dwelling, other structures such as detached garages, and personal property, including clothing.  The amount of insurance for other structures is included in the limit of insurance for the insured dwelling and will not exceed 10% of that limit unless you have specifically insured other structures on the Dwelling Policy. You should contact your agent and review your policy and any applicable endorsements for specific coverages.

Q. During the storm, a tree fell on the roof of my home which allowed rain to enter from the opening made by the tree. I now see mold growing – do I have coverage?
A. Most homeowners policies will provide coverage for the property damaged by rain that entered through an opening caused as a direct result of wind. Generally, mold is excluded in the homeowners
policy; however, some policies will cover an ensuing mold loss caused by or resulting from covered water damage. Coverage for ensuing mold loss would include the reasonable and necessary costs to repair or replace your damaged property. Most policies do not include any additional cost for remediation or testing of ensuing mold unless your policy includes mold remediation coverage.

Q. During the storm, my home was flooded. Does my homeowners policy cover mold damage from the flood water?
A. Typically, homeowners policies do not cover damage caused by or resulting from flood, surface water, waves, tidal water or tidal waves, overflow or streams or other bodies of water or spray from any of these whether or not driven by wind. If there is no flood coverage provided in the homeowners policy, any ensuing mold loss resulting from flood would not be covered under the policy.

Q. Do I have to hire a public insurance adjuster to file and help in the settlement of my auto or homeowner’s insurance claim?
A. No. Hiring a public insurance adjuster to assist you in filing a property insurance claim is optional. Public insurance adjusters charge fees to help negotiate claim settlements with insurance companies. Be aware that the public insurance adjuster fee is normally a percentage of the claim settlement and therefore is paid out of settlement monies received from an insurer.

Q. Are there any limitations on the compensation of a public insurance adjuster?
A. Yes, the following limitations apply:

If a claim is settled within 72 hours of the date the loss is reported to the insurance company, the public insurance adjuster is entitled only to reasonable compensation for time and expenses.
The public insurance adjuster’s fee may not exceed 10 percent of a claim settlement and must be disclosed in the public insurance adjuster written contract.
Q. Is a public insurance adjuster permitted to be involved in the repair of damaged property for which the public adjuster negotiated settlement?
A. No. The public insurance adjuster may not participate, either directly or indirectly, in the reconstruction or repair of damaged property that is the subject of a claim adjusted by the public insurance adjuster.

Q. Are public insurance adjusters required to be licensed by the Texas Department of Insurance?
A. Yes, a person may not act as a public insurance adjuster in this state or hold himself or herself out to be a public insurance adjuster in this state, unless the person holds a license or certificate issued by the commissioner. You may verify the license status of a public insurance adjuster at http://www.texasonline.state.tx.us/NASApp/tdi/TdiARManager.

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 provide up to $500.00 for spoilage of refrigerated or frozen food caused by an off premises power failure, if the power failure is a direct result from 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 $500.00. Other policies may not provide the $500.00 for a loss resulting from a power failure off premises unless added by an endorsement.

Q. If I evacuate due to a storm, and my personal property is damaged or stolen while in another location, will my personal property be covered by my auto or 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% 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 an insured, unless the insured is temporarily living there. Generally, a personal automobile policy will not cover personal property.

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) FAQs
Q. What is the difference between a flood insurance policy issued by the NFIP and a policy issued by an insurance company? Does one provide better coverage than the other?
A.  Flood insurance is provided by the federal government through the NFIP. The policies that are sold by insurance companies are usually NFIP policies sold through the Write Your Own (WYO) program. This is done to make it easier to purchase flood policies through local insurance agents. Even though the policies are purchased through the insurance companies, they are NFIP policies. Claims are handled by NFIP adjusters and by insurance company adjusters that are certified by the NFIP to handle flood claims. Questions and complaints can be referred to the NFIP at 1-888-225-5356.  Some insurance companies may also offer flood coverage other than the NFIP policy.  You should check with your agent or company to see if flood coverage other than the NFIP policy is available, and to compare the coverages being offered to determine the best coverage for your needs.

Q. How can I obtain insurance coverage to protect my home and contents from damage caused by flooding?
A. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) makes flood insurance available to people who live in communities that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Contact your agent or the NFIP at 1-888-225-5356 to purchase a NFIP policy. The home need not be near a body of water or in a floodplain to qualify.

Q. Is flood insurance expensive?
A. The average flood insurance policy costs $300 a year for $100,000 of coverage. People in low risk areas can purchase flood insurance for just over $100 a year.

Q. Why would I buy flood insurance if my property is in a low or moderate risk area?
A. Twenty to twenty-five percent of all flood insurance claims come from low to moderate risk areas.

Q. Can I buy flood insurance if I rent?
A. You can buy up to $100,000 of flood insurance for your contents.

Q. How much flood insurance can I buy?
A. You can buy up to $250,000 for the dwelling and $100,000 for your contents.

Q. Does the policy provide any coverage for additional living expense?
A. No, the NFIP policy does not provide coverage for additional living expense.

Q. How is damaged residential property valued after a loss under an NFIP policy?
A. If the property is insured to at least 80 percent of its value and is your principle residence, the dwelling will be valued at replacement cost if the dwelling is replaced. If the dwelling is rebuilt at a new location, the replacement cost won’t exceed what it would have cost to replace at the former location.

Contents, appliances, carpets and carpet pads and outdoor property are valued at actual cash value. Actual cash value is the cost to repair with new material of like kind and quality less depreciation.

Q. Is there coverage for the cost of debris removal? What about loss avoidance measures?
A. The cost of removing debris on your property, and the cost of removing debris of your property that is on someone else’s property is covered, but it’s subject to the limit of the policy. You will be compensated at the Federal minimum wage if you perform the work yourself. Loss avoidance is limited to $1,000 for the cost of sandbags, temporary levees, pumps and plastic sheeting and lumber, including the value of your work. An additional $1,000 is available for the cost of moving insured property to protect it from flood. These benefits do not increase the limit of insurance.

Q. If my automobile was parked on my property and damaged by flood, does the flood policy cover the damage?
A. No, automobiles are not covered property under the NFIP policy. If you have comprehensive or full coverage under your auto policy, flood should be covered by that policy. If you have liability only
, there is no coverage for the auto.

Q. Does flood insurance cover damage to built-in appliances?
A. Check to see what flood insurance coverage you have. Then, call the NFIP at 1-888-225-5356 to determine what would be covered in a flood insurance policy. Generally, flood policies provide coverage for the structure and personal property. Built-in appliances may fall under either category.

Q. What coverage is available for commercial buildings?
A. Up to $500,000 is available for non-residential buildings, and an additional $500,000 for contents of non-residential buildings. Buildings and contents are valued at actual cash value.

Q. When does coverage become effective under an NFIP policy?
A. There is a 30-day waiting period before coverage goes into effect after an NFIP policy is purchased. However, there is an exception to the 30-day waiting period when a new policy is initially purchased in connection with a loan. In that case, the policy becomes effective at the time of the loan closing.

Q. What if my dwelling or commercial building is valued over the maximum limits available?
A. The insurance company that insures your commercial building for fire might add excess flood coverage. That coverage usually has the NFIP maximum limits as a deductible. Availability might depend on the Flood Zone of each location. There may be insurers that will write excess policies for dwellings over the $250,000 maximum limits. You should contact your agent to learn more about available coverage.

Q. Where can I get more information about flood insurance?
A. Check out www.floodsmart.gov and http://www.iii.org/prepare/home/.

For more information contact: ConsumerProtection@tdi.state.tx.us

Categories: archived