Losses from Texas wildfires expected to exceed $100 million
Insured losses from Labor Day weekend wildfires in Texas easily will surpass $100 million, the Insurance Council of Texas says.
“The fire losses for 2011 are already the worst on record in Texas,” says Mark Hanna, a spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. “These wildfires over the Labor Day weekend will only add to what has become a catastrophic year for Texas.”
|Hundreds of homes were destroyed over Labor Day weekend in wildfires across Texas.|
Over Labor Day weekend, wildfires around Texas destroyed more than 500 homes and scorched more than 25,000 acres. The worst damage was in Bastrop County, just east of Austin. In the northeast Texas town of Gladewater, a 20-year-old woman and her 18-month-old daughter were killed when their mobile home was destroyed in a wildfire.
Strong winds and extremely dry conditions have fueled the Texas wildfires, which firefighters continued to battle in many places after the holiday weekend.
The Insurance Council of Texas offers these tips for Texans dealing with property losses triggered by the wildfires. This advice can apply to any sort of natural disaster, however.
• Carefully check your home and cars. If you think your property has been damaged, contact your insurance agent or company as quickly as possible.
• Take photographs or video of the damage for your records.
• Make temporary repairs that are necessary to prevent further damage to your home or property; keep receipts for reimbursement.
• Prepare a list of personal property that was damaged or destroyed. Do not make any permanent repairs until a claims adjuster arrives. The adjuster will work with your list of records and assess the damage to come up with a dollar amount for your claim.
• Contact your insurance agent or company representative immediately to discuss possible reimbursement of temporary living expenses.
• Let your insurance agent, insurance company representatives, relatives and neighbors know how you can be reached.
For victims of the Texas wildfires, an insurance company has 15 days to notify them that it either has accepted or rejected your claim. Faced with numerous disaster claims, insurance companies may be granted additional time by the Texas Department of Insurance to notify wildfire victims.
Most home insurance policies allow for an appraisal process to settle claim disputes. Carefully read your policy or ask your agent about how the process works, the Insurance Council of Texas says. Once all differences have been settled, the insurance company has five business days to mail a check to a policyholder.
“The goal of every insurance company is to put the disrupted life of their policyholders back together,” the council says. “In any catastrophe, insurance companies do their best to fairly and accurately assess damage and bring relief to their policyholders as quickly as possible.”