If your home has been impacted by Hurricane Harvey and you plan on making a claim against your homeowner’s insurance policy, you need to understand generally how the process will work. Here are some general steps:

  • You must contact your insurance company and let it know that you will be making a claim.
  • You have an obligation to make any reasonable, temporary repairs you can to make sure no further damage occurs (e.g. cover up a hole in your roof or board up a window).
  • After you have made a claim, your insurance company will send out an adjustor to inspect the damage to your home and provide an estimate of either the actual value or replacement cost (this depends on the type of coverage you have under your policy).
  • Once the adjuster comes, detail all of his/her actions (i.e., what he/she inspected).
  • From this point you have a few options:
    • Accept the estimate provided by your insurance company (we generally do not recommend this option unless you are absolutely sure that you claim is being adjusted fully and appropriately);
    • Try to negotiate with your insurance company on your own (remember almost everything is negotiable because there is no set price for a repair);
      1. The success of this effort will depend on how you have documented your claim and your understanding of the company’s legal obligations.
      2. For the most part, if you are told that the company can’t legally do any more for you then you are not being told the truth.

    • Hire a public adjuster. A public adjuster will help evaluate your loss and help you document your claim, which can sometimes help get more money. However, a public adjuster can not give you legal advice and can not take any legal action on your behalf to make the insurance company treat you fairly. If you do hire a public adjuster, only do so after your initial offer and make sure that the fee is based on new money obtained not the entire amount.
    • Hire an attorney. The decision to hire an attorney is an important one and when to do so depends on the individual. However, we recommend not hiring a lawyer until you have at least received the insurance company’s initial offer. You should generally expect the following from your lawyer:
      1. a meeting to go over your policy, the loss you sustained and where you are in the claims process;
      2. assistance in documenting your claim and the value of your loss;
      3. the retention of an expert to help give a full and fair estimate as to the value of your loss;
      4. the handling of all matters with your insurance company;
      5. open lines of communication as to where things stand with your claims; and
      6. advice on your legal rights and recommendations as to how you should proceed.
  • If you hire an attorney, your attorney will likely try to get the insurance company to be fair without the need for a lawsuit. However, if the insurance company refuses to be fair, then your lawyer will typically file a lawsuit so that, if necessary, a jury can decide what is fair.