You might own a home in Austin, Texas, but this does not mean you are safe from hurricanes that batter the Texas gulf coast. While your home might not bear the brunt of the storm, hurricanes can move inland causing a significant amount of rain to fall and damaging winds to blow even in central Texas.
Substantial rain and wind can seriously damage your home. While you likely carry a homeowner’s insurance policy, can it deny you coverage if the flooding rains or damaging winds were caused by a hurricane?
Damage to your physical dwelling caused by hurricane winds is generally covered by homeowner’s insurance policies in Texas. However, damage to trees or shrubs on your property caused by high winds is generally not covered by homeowner’s insurance.
Note that insurance policies for homes on the Texas coast or in Harris County likely will not cover wind damage at all. Homeowners in these areas must purchase coverage from the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). These homeowners will want to plan for potential wind damage, because obtaining TWIA coverage is not possible once a hurricane develops in the Gulf of Mexico.
Most standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding. Homeowners in Austin and on the Texas gulf coast need to purchase separate flood insurance, especially if they live in a flood zone.
Your rights if your claim is denied
If you have appropriate insurance coverage for wind and flooding, and your insurer denies your claim for damages following a hurricane, you have rights. Insurers cannot drag their feet in approving or denying a claim for damages. There are timelines they must adhere to once a claim is filed and assessed. There are also deadlines for the payment of approved claims.
If a claim is wrongfully denied or payment is received late or not at all, you might register a complaint in writing or online with the Texas Department of Insurance. You might even need to take legal action to obtain what you are owed. Note that you must provide your insurer with written notification within a certain timeframe if you intend to sue.