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Hurricane Ike Consumer Resource Page


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Red Cross | Contact FEMA | Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) | Contact Your Insurance Carrier | Contact TDI | Safety Tips | Catastrophe or Emergency Adjusters in Texas | Current Conditions | Contact NFIP | Contact TWIA | Contact FAIR | Additional Disaster Resources/FAQs | Consumer Bill of Rights | Helpful Publications | Prevent Insurance Fraud | Flood-Damaged Vehicle Alert | Contact the Office of the Texas Attorney General | File an Insurance Complaint | TDI News Releases | Commissioners' Bulletins | ZIP code list (PDF)

Hurricane Ike made landfall near Galveston Island on Saturday, September 13, 2008, causing extensive damage on the Texas Coast and to areas inland. For general insurance questions or to file an insurance-related complaint, you can call TDI at 1-800-252-3439.

The Texas Department of Insurance invites you to mediate your Hurricane Ike residential property insurance claim dispute through the 2009 Hurricane Ike Mediation Pilot Program with three participating insurers: AAA Texas, Allstate, and Farmers. Read more about the process in the mediation flier. You can request a mediation using the Mediation Request Form.

Updates:

  • (December 23, 2009) -- FEMA extended the Direct Assistance program by four months for individuals and families living in temporary housing after the storm. The program was originally slated to end March 12, 2010 but has been extended until July 9, 2010.
  • (June 17, 2009) --The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) extended its waiver surcharge program for residential dwellings through Sept, 1, 2009. The waiver program allows certain residential dwellings to qualify for coverage without the submission of a WPI-8. The surcharge for the waiver of the WPI-8 increased from 10 to 15 percent on Nov. 1, 2008. A WPI-8 certificate of compliance is required for homes that were constructed or had additions, structural repairs, or structural alterations on or after January 1, 1988.
  • (April 4, 2009) -- Consumers in the Houston and Galveston should be wary of deceptive advertisements from companies using names similar to that of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). TDI on April 3, 2009, issued a cease and desist order against Randy Barber and various unauthorized entities after they distributed advertisements giving the false impression that they are affiliated with TDI. Read the information sheet for more details.

Immediate Disaster Assistance from the American Red Cross   

If you have immediate emergency needs for food, clothing, shelter, or medical care, visit one of the local offices of the American Red Cross or call the toll-free number. Visit the website to donate to the Red Cross to assist with disaster relief.

1-800-Red Cross
www.redcross.org

Contact FEMA   

If you have uninsured losses due to Hurricane Ike, register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) and 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) or register online at www.fema.gov/assistance/index.shtm. The deadline to register with FEMA was February 20, 2009.

FEMA assistance summary with a list of counties affected by the Hurricane Ike disaster declaration (PDF)

Hurricane Ike Information and Resources

Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC)   

All FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers are closed as of April 10, 2009.

Contact Your Insurance Carrier   

Contact TDI   

If you need information, have a complaint, or can’t locate your agent or company, call the toll-free TDI Consumer Help Line

1-800-252-3439

The Consumer Help Line is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Insurance assistance disaster flier - Who to Call for Help:

Safety Tips   

  • Safety Tips from the Centers for Disease Control
  • Learn how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning and stay fire safe after a hurricane. Also view the Health Alert: Carbon Monoxide Warning Health Alert (PDF).
  • Visit the Texas Department of State Health Service's Hurricane Ike resource page for information about health-related concerns after the hurricane.
  • Return to your home only when authorities have said it's safe to do so. Listen to news reports to find out if the water is safe to drink. Stay out of any buildings surrounded by flood waters.
  • Do not enter your home if you smell gas, floodwaters remain, or your home was damaged by fire and authorities have not said it's safe to enter.
  • Continue listening to the radio for emergency updates and news reports.
  • If you are returning home after evacuation, enter your home with caution. Also, be wary of wildlife or other animals and use a stick to poke through debris to avoid encountering snakes. Use caution when walking, as there could be hidden foundation problems.
  • Be careful to avoid fire ants. Ants often float in colonies, or "rafts," after floods and should be avoided. View the Texas Cooperative Extension's information for Managing Fire Ants after a Flood and Managing Mosquitoes After a Flood.
  • Turn flashlights on before you enter your home to avoid sparks that could cause a fire or explosion if there's a gas leak. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.
  • Be cautious of your surroundings outdoors. Watch for fallen objects; downed electrical wires; and weakened walls, bridges, roads, and sidewalks.
  • Clean up household chemical spills. Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria, or chemicals. Also clean salvageable items.
  • Throw out all food and other supplies you suspect may have become contaminated or come in contact with floodwater. If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then unplug the appliances and let them dry out.
  • Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
  • Disconnect all electronic equipment and appliances and move them to a dry place. Move all damaged household items to a dry place.

Catastrophe or Emergency Adjusters in Texas    

Current Conditions   

Weather

Road Closures

To view current information about road closures and other road information, call the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) or visit its website

1-800-452-9292 (Texas Travel Information Center)
www.txdot.gov/travel/road_conditions2.htm

Health and Safety

To view Department of State Health Services information, visit

www.dshs.state.tx.us/preparedness/hurricanes.shtm

Additional Disaster Resources and FAQs   

Texas Department of Insurance (TDI)

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)   

The NFIP encourages policyholders who experienced flood damage to file their claim through the agent who issued their flood insurance policy. Consumers interested in purchasing flood insurance should ask their agent about such coverage. For more information about flood insurance, call NFIP or visit its website.

1-888-FLOOD 29 (356-6329)
www.floodsmart.gov

  • NFIP Summary of Coverage (PDF)
  • After the Flood Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Texas Flood Fact Sheet (PDF)
  • Filing Your Flood Insurance Claim (PDF)

Contact information to help resolve flood insurance-related questions:

  • Insurance/Floodplain desk phone: 713-770-4451
  • Mitchell Beardsley: 337-281-4688
  • Linda Delamare: 940-232-4500

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA)   

Coverage for wind damage may be provided separately from your homeowners insurance by a TWIA policy. If you have wind coverage through TWIA, call TWIA or visit its website

1-800-788-8247
www.twia.org

Hurricane Ike Fact Sheet: TWIA

TWIA claims process

Steps to take when filing a TWIA claim:

  1. file your claim using the TWIA claim form (First Notice of Loss)
  2. contact your agent to file a claim
  3. call the toll-free TWIA/FAIR plan number. Due to high call volume, wait times are shorter in the evening. The call line hours have been extended to Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Your options if you disagree with the TWIA claim settlement amount

Note: Insurance companies that do not provide windstorm coverage should advise their policyholders who attempt to file windstorm claims with them to contact TWIA to find out if there is a TWIA policy in effect.

Texas FAIR Plan Association   

Steps to take when filing a FAIR Plan claim:

  1. file your claim using the Claims Reporting Form (PDF)
  2. contact your agent to file a claim
  3. call the toll-free TWIA/FAIR plan number. Due to high call volume, wait times are shorter in the evening. The call line hours have been extended to Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

1-800-788-8247
www.texasfairplan.org

Consumer Bills of Rights   

Helpful Publications   

The following publications will help you prepare for a disaster and become more knowledgeable about insurance issues:

General

Windstorm

  • Repairs After a Storm (PDF)
  • No Inspection Required (PDF)
  • Repairing My Exterior Siding After a Storm (PDF)
  • Repairing My Garage Door After a Storm (PDF)
  • Repairing My Roof After a Storm (PDF)/li>
  • Repairing My Windows and Doors After a Storm (PDF)

Homeowners

Auto

Prevent Insurance Fraud   

If TDI recently contacted you to complete the Disclosure of Information Consent and Release Form, the form is available here (PDF).

Consumer Alert: Beware of Disaster-Related Fraud (PDF)

Insurance Fraud Toll-Free Hotline - 1-888-327-8818

Online Fraud Reporting: Secure Transmission, Fast, Comprehensive, Easy Data Entry

Flood-Damaged Vehicle Alert   

Consumer Alert: Car Buyers Urged to Beware of Flood-damaged Vehicles (PDF)

Contact the Office of the Texas Attorney General   

Call the toll-free complaint line or file an online complaint form to report fraudulent business practices or price gouging. The complaint line is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more information about price gouging, visit the OAG website at www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/price_gouging.shtml.

1-800-252-8011
Online Complaint Form | (PDF)
www.oag.state.tx.us/

File an Insurance Complaint   

Read about TDI's consumer complaints process in the Helping You With Your Insurance Complaint publication. You may also e-mail, mail, or fax your complaint along with copies of your supporting documents to

Texas Department of Insurance
Consumer Protection Program
(MC 111-1A)
P.O. Box 149091
Austin, TX 78714-9091
Fax: 512-475-1771
E-mail: ConsumerProtection@tdi.state.tx.us

Insurance Complaint Forms

TDI News Releases   

Commissioners' Bulletins    

Frequently Asked Questions about the Bulletins

Q: Could the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) give some guidance regarding the expected duration of the Hurricane Ike bulletins?
A: The official period of the Commissioners' Bulletin Nos. B-0056-08 through B-0064-08 and B-0070-08 extended throughout the duration of the Governor's disaster proclamation. Under Section 418.014 of the Texas Government Code, a state of disaster will continue until disaster conditions are resolved or not more than 30 days unless extended by the Governor. The Governor renewed the disaster proclamation effective October 8, 2008, November 6, 2008, December 7, 2008, January 2, 2009, and February 4, 2009. The proclaimed state of disaster renewed effective February 4, 2009, remained effective through March 6, 2009.   TDI will not extend the duration of the Hurricane Ike bulletins beyond March 6, 2009. 

Governor's Proclamation 9/8/2008
http://governor.state.tx.us/news/proclamation/11087/

Governor's Proclamation 9/12/2008 - extended to additional counties
http://governor.state.tx.us/news/proclamation/11142/

Governor's Proclamation 10/7/2008 - extended until 11/6/2008
http://governor.state.tx.us/news/proclamation/11386/

Governor's Proclamation 11/6/2008 - extended until 12/6/2008 (PDF)

Governor's Proclamation 12/7/2008 - extended until 1/5/2009 (PDF)

Governor's Proclamation 1/2/2009 - extended until 2/4/2009 (PDF)

Governor's Proclamation 2/4/2009 - extended until 3/6/2009 (PDF)

Q: Do the emergency rules in Commissioner's Bulletin Nos. B-0056-08 and B-0061-08 apply to all policyholders, certificate holders, insureds and enrollees, or only to those policyholders, certificate holders, insureds and enrollees who contact the insurer or health maintenance organization (HMO)? Are insurers and HMOs automatically prohibited from sending out cancellation notices to all of the policyholders who reside in these counties for the period of time stated in the bulletins?
A: TDI clarifies that Commissioner's Bulletin Nos. B-0056-08 and B-0061-08 are not emergency rules. The Commissioner's bulletins identify considerations that the Commissioner and TDI expect insurers and industry to apply with respect to Texas policyholders and beneficiaries affected by the catastrophe as outlined in the bulletins. TDI expects insurers and HMOs to utilize judgment and discretion with respect to the "suspension" of premium payment and coverage of prescription medication, regardless of who initiates contact. In making a decision, insurers and HMOs should consider extent of damages, availability of utility services, postal services, relocations, road closures, and any other conditions that may hinder the ability of policyholders and certificate holders to make timely premium payments, to contact the insurer or HMO, or to access prescription medication which had recently been filled. TDI expects insurers and agents to continue to demonstrate their best professional behavior in serving Texas consumers with respect to all communications.

Q: Are there notices similar to notices of cancellation that carriers and HMOs should not send?
A: TDI expects insurers and agents to continue to demonstrate their best professional behavior in serving Texas consumers with respect to all communications, including but not limited to notices of cancellation, non-renewals, and non-reinstatements. TDI encourages carriers to use all available means to provide prompt and immediate relief to those residents and policyholders, including but not limited to the suspension of premium payments to allow continuing insurance coverage. TDI will work with carriers to minimize the regulatory effects of a carrier's suspension of premium payments. Carriers are not expected to forgive payment of premium. TDI expects that carriers will grant policyholders an extended grace period for the payment of any premium due. Carriers are encouraged to work with policyholders in the collection of premiums, including payment plans.

Q: Will the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) and the FAIR Plan honor Commissioner's Bulletin Nos. B-0056-08, B-0058-08, B-0060-08, B-0062-08, and B-0063-08?
A: Yes. TWIA and the FAIR Plan will honor those actions, terms, and conditions addressed in Commissioner's Bulletin Nos. B-0056-08, B-0058-08, B-0060-08, B-0062-08, and B-0063-08.

Q: Does Commissioner's Bulletin No. B-0062-08, relating to underwriting actions for property and casualty coverages of disaster victims or evacuees, apply to new business?
A: For new business, an insurer may apply reasonable underwriting standards independent of the person's relocation. The statement in the bulletin that "...it is not reasonable to change policyholders' rating classifications or increase their insurance rates solely because they are victims or evacuees of Hurricane Ike" applies to in-force or renewal business. Moreover, the Department will not entertain the introduction of any classification or tiering system, whether for new, in-force, or renewal business, that directly utilizes the fact that the covered person was a victim or evacuee of Hurricane Ike.


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