SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- State and federal officials are offering helpful hints to anyone who plans to file a claim for reimbursement on insured losses or damaged property, or who may be considering using the services of an independent adjuster.
When filing a claim:
- Telephone your insurance agent immediately following damage, and follow-up with a written claim to protect your rights under Texas' prompt-payment law.
- Photograph damages if possible. Make only emergency repairs until after an adjuster inspects the damage. Save all receipts.
- Leave a note with your temporary address and phone number, and the name of your insurance company if property damage forces you to move. Be present when the adjuster comes.
- Review your property and flood policies. Knowing the contents can ensure that you tap all appropriate coverages, such as debris removal and temporary additional living expenses.
If uninsured, call the local Red Cross office or the FEMA toll-free teleregistration line at 1-800-462-9029 (TTY 1-800-462-7585) to find out about disaster assistance.
When considering utilizing the services of an independent adjuster:
- Be aware that the Texas Department of Insurance requires insurance companies to settle claims promptly and fairly; therefore, representation by an independent adjuster should not be necessary.
- Be advised that independent adjusters are not required to be licensed or regulated through the Texas Department of Insurance; therefore, any formal complaint against an independent adjuster may require legal action.
- Adjusters who handle flood claims must be certified by the National Flood Insurance Program.
- Obtain a contract that outlines the fee base. Independent adjusters usually charge a percentage of the total claim payment, which can include reimbursement for property damage and additional living expenses.
- Find out if your insurance company sends the claim check to you or to the adjuster. Independent adjusters can deduct their fee before transferring the balance to you.
Contact the Texas Department of Insurance at 1-800-252-3439 for answers to questions not addressed above. Call the Texas Attorney General's office at 1-800-337-3928 to report concerns.