Many Texans will lose their right to additional flood insurance money that they’re entitled to – this situation is urgent. The most important deadline for Texans with Hurricane Harvey flood damage is quickly approaching – it’s only one month away on the anniversary of Harvey – and Texans largely have no clue.
Texans with flood insurance claims must submit their sworn proof of loss document along with documents to support the proof of loss by the anniversary of Hurricane Harvey. As discussed more below, the Proof of Loss is a requirement under the flood insurance policy that people must submit on the below referenced form. If you fail to submit an accurate proof of loss with the full amounts of damage you are claiming to the flood insurance company and the Flood Insurance Adjuster by August 25, 2018, you cannot challenge the adjuster’s determination and/or collect any additional money for your flood damaged home or business. This applies to anyone who is unhappy because the insurance company didn’t pay them enough for their flood damage; anyone with a supplemental claim for their property or personal property (contents) claim; anyone still working with the insurance company or adjuster on their claim; anyone whose claim has been denied in part or in full; and so many more. Basically, unless you are 100% satisfied with how much you have been paid on your Harvey flood claim, you need to submit your Proof of Loss.
Many people do not realize that their flood insurance policy contains a section titled “Requirements in Case of Loss.” That flood policy provision states:
In case of a flood loss to insured property you must:…send us a proof of loss, which is your statement of the amount you are claiming under the policy signed and sworn to by you, and which furnishes us with the following information: (a) The date and time of loss; (b) A brief explanation of how the loss happened…(f) Specifications of damages buildings and detailed repair estimates…(i) The inventory of damaged personal property…
5. In completing the proof of loss you must use your own judgment concerning the amount of loss and justify that amount.
7…..you must still send us a proof of loss within [the deadline for Harvey is 1 year after Harvey or August 25, 2018] even if the adjuster does not furnish the form or help you complete it.1
Texans must know that they are not required to sign and submit the Insurance Adjuster’s Proof of Loss that contains the insurance company’s amounts of claim and damage—and Texans should not sign and submit the Insurance Adjuster’s form unless they understand and agree to the amounts contained because signing means you’re swearing to its accuracy under the penalty of perjury. No one wants to swear to something they do not agree with!
As discussed more below, policyholders can fill out the Proof of Loss form with their own amounts claimed that they believe are correct to fix their flood damages and submit that to the insurance company and adjuster. Remember, the policy requires that “you must use your own judgment concerning the amount of loss and justify that amount.”
Unfortunately, that process is not as easy as it may seem. I regularly get calls and emails from Texans with flood claims, as well as from public adjusters handling flood claims, where people are looking for information about submitting their own proof of loss – I am always happy to help answer questions and offer guidance.
I was recently speaking with a public adjuster (who has been a public and independent adjuster for at least 3 decades) who had no clue that flood insurance policies require the Proof of Loss to be submitted on their special form, and he was shocked that the deadline is only a month away for Harvey. I realized if someone of his caliber and experience was in the dark, then certainly the average homeowner or business owner would have limited knowledge about these things.
These is the information I gave to the public adjuster:
The Proof of Loss is not the same as filing your claim or submitting a contractor’s or public adjuster’s estimate for your damages and claim. The Proof of Loss is a form that is required under the Flood Insurance Policy. A copy of the required form can be found below:
Texans need to submit this form with all information filled in and completed to the best of their knowledge. They should provide complete and accurate documentation to support the amounts claimed within the Proof of Loss. Good examples of documentation to provide with the proof of loss may include detailed itemized estimates for flood damages and repairs from a public adjuster or contractor; paid invoices, receipts, estimates, bids, or proposals for completed repairs; photographs of damages as well as pre-Harvey photographs; detailed contents inventory that includes personal property damaged and amounts to replace each item; among anything else that you have to show flood damages, repairs needed, and pre-loss condition.
FEMA has incredibly strict requirements related to the proof of loss and supporting documents. The deadline is quickly approaching, and it is imperative to timely submit these required documents. If filling out a proof of loss seems too complicated or confusing, seek assistance from a professional with significant experience handling flood insurance claims and matters – like an attorney or public adjuster.
Remember to submit your completed sworn to proof of loss by August 25, 2018.
1 See Standard Flood Insurance Policy at p. 19 – 20, https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1449522308118-6752c210f65aed326a9ddf4a0ddaca1f/F-122_Dwelling_SFIP_102015.pdf.