Do I Have Options If My Insurance Company Isn’t Covering All of the Damage Caused by Harvey?
Nearly 80 percent of homeowners in Houston do not have flood insurance, and 40 percent of the homes that have been flooded were in low-to-moderate risk zones, meaning flood insurance was not even required. On top of that, private insurance companies refuse to offer flood coverage to homeowners because it doesn’t make the insurance company any profit. If your damages were the result of flooding and windstorm damage, your insurance company will fight your claim tooth-and-nail.
So, What Are the Options for Homeowners?
Well, if you have flood insurance, you can file a claim with the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). However, the program is $25 billion in debt and stretched thin. The coverage will help, but it won’t cover every expense. It’s an option—but not an ideal one. For homeowner’s insurance claims, you’ll need to isolate the damage to ensure that your claim only includes damage caused by high winds or direct rainfall. In this case, windstorm damage could include uprooted trees, broken windows, etc. The only thing it won’t include is damage resulting from rising water levels. Thanks to “anti-concurrent causation” clauses, your adjuster can refuse to cover any damage that might have been caused or contributed to by the flooding—even if the primary cause was wind damage. The Texas courts have enforced these clauses before, so there’s little hope that they’ll make an exception for your case.
Since all of these efforts still won’t completely rebuild a flooded home, here are two more options:
SBA Disaster Assistance:
The SBA offers low-interest loans to help business owners and homeowners get money for rebuilding as quickly as possible. Since it’s a loan, it’s not “relief” in the way that insurance or grants might offer—but it’s immediate, and it’s fairly simple.
Inverse Condemnation Claim:
If governmental entities knew your housing development was built in an area vulnerable to flooding, but they did nothing to stop development or mitigate the risk of flooding, then you may be able to sue for the damage to your home.
You can also apply for relief from FEMA for temporary living expenses, long-term housing, and other costs. Since insurance companies will delay payment or delay adjuster visits in order to pressure you to settle, applying for government assistance quickly could allow you to hold out for longer. Consider applying for grants from other disaster relief programs as well. The Disaster Unemployment Assistance program offers unemployment benefits for those left jobless by Harvey.
Arnold & Itkin has been fighting its clients for over a decade, winning billions in verdicts and settlements for its neighbors and community. If you want to hear about all of your legal and financial options after Hurricane Harvey, do not hesitate to call us today at (888) 400-2101 or contact us online for a free consultation.