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  • choices-slideshowComparing Policy Coverages?

    Are you shoppping for new insurance or thinking about changing your current coverage? Our easy-to-use Policy Comparison Tool can provide the information you need to make an informed decision.  
    To use the compare tool, click here.

  • stormTexas Insurance Rates Again Among the Highest in the Country

    The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) again announced that Texans pay some of the highest insurance premiums in the country.  A recent OPIC report titled, "Why Is Texas Homeowners Insurance So Expensive?" examines this issue.

    The report is available here.

Residential Property Highlights

Did You Have Storm Damage to Your Home or Auto and Need Help Understanding Your Insurance Coverage?

The information below is intended to provide some basic information for anyone with insurance questions related to the recent flooding and storm damage experienced in Texas.

Homeowners Coverage

·       Wind, including a tornado:  A typical homeowners policy covers damage caused by wind, including tornadoes.
·       Hail:  A typical homeowners policy covers damage caused by hail.

WIND and HAIL NOTE:  If your home is located in one of Texas' 14 coastal counties, or parts of southeastern Harris County, your homeowners policy MAY NOT cover damage caused by wind and hail. If your home is located in the above area, your wind and hail coverage may be written through the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA.) If so, for additional information contact TWIA at 1-800-788-8247 or visit its website at www.twia.org.

·       Flood:  A typical homeowners policy DOES NOT cover damage caused by a flood.

FLOOD NOTE:  To protect your home from damage caused by flood, you will need to purchase a separate flood policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) administered by FEMA.  Flood policies typically have a 30-day waiting period before you will have coverage.  This link has a summary of coverage, https://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pdfs/Summary_of_Coverage_English.pdf 

For additional information, contact NFIP at 1-888-FLOOD 29 (356-6329) or visit its website at www.floodsmart.gov.

Auto Coverage

If you purchased comprehensive (commonly referred to as “other than collision”), your personal auto policy may cover damage to your auto caused by flood, hail, or wind (including a tornado).  Comprehensive coverage typically pays for damage to your auto caused by events other than a collision, including theft, fire, flood, hail, and wind.  Comprehensive coverage also pays for a loss to your auto from contact with birds or animals or breakage of glass. 

Auto Note:  If you only purchased auto liability insurance and did not purchase comprehensive coverage for damage to your auto, your personal auto policy will not pay for damage to your auto caused by events such as flood, hail, or wind.  Auto liability insurance pays for injuries to other people or property of others that you, or a covered person, cause in an auto accident. 

Do You Need to File a Claim or Have Coverage Questions?

If you have damage that may be covered under your insurance policy or questions about your coverage, contact your agent or company as soon as practical.  

·       Be sure to keep a record of all contacts you have with your agent or company.  
·       Be prepared to answer questions about the extent and severity of the damage. 

Are You Temporarily Out of Your Home Due to Damage Covered by Your Homeowners Insurance Policy? 

If so, ask your agent about coverage that may be available to you for your additional living expenses (ALE).  Homeowners insurance policies pay for your additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your home because of a covered loss.  You will need to provide documentation regarding your expenses.

Flood Note:  Flood policies DO NOT cover your additional living expenses if you are unable to live in your home due to a covered flood loss.

IMPORTANT: If you are making repairs prior to settling your insurance claim,  only make repairs necessary to protect your home and property from further damage, such as covering broken windows and holes to keep rain out. 

•       Don't make permanent repairs until instructed by your insurance company. 
•       Save all repair receipts. 

Tips That May Assist You With Your Claim

•       If you are temporarily out of your home, make sure your insurer knows where they can reach you.
•       Inspect your property and cars for damage.
•       Inventory your damage.
•       Photograph or video the damage.
•       Don’t throw away damaged property until your insurance adjuster has seen it.
•       Get your insurance company’s approval before you make any permanent repairs.

Try to be present when the insurance adjuster inspects the damage. Be sure your address is visible. If you moved out of your house temporarily, leave a note or a plywood sign with your temporary address, phone number, and name of your insurance company.

For additional information, contact the Office of Public Insurance Counsel at 512-322-4143.

OPIC Files Amicus Brief With Texas Supreme Court Seeking Review of Appraisal Process in Texas

OPIC recently filed an Amicus Brief with the Texas Supreme Court in the case of Richardson East Baptist Church v. Philadelphia Insurance Company in support of review to address the appraisal process in Texas.  A copy of the Amicus brief is available by clicking here.  
Case information is available at this website:  http://www.search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=16-0347&coa=cossup

OPIC Study Shows the Longer You Stay With the Same Insurance Company, the More Likely It Is You Are Being Overcharged

A study conducted by The Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) supports the idea that shopping your insurance policy can yield savings.  The agency’s Executive Director, Deeia Beck said, “according to our data, the longer a policyholder stays with the same company, the more likely it is that they are overcharged.”  The study is available for review here.  A Spanish version is available here.

What is a C.L.U.E. Report and What is in it?

The information contained in a C.L.U.E. report for you, your car, your home, or a home you may purchase can have a negative impact on the cost of insurance for that auto or home.   C.L.U.E. (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) is a claims history database generated by LexisNexis® that enables insurance companies to access certain consumer information, such as claims information, when they are underwriting or rating an insurance policy.  C.L.U.E. reports are used to underwrite and rate new policies or property.  The C.L.U.E. report contains up to 7 years of claim information, including the date of loss, type of loss, amounts paid, and a description of the property covered.

You can obtain a copy of your C.L.U.E. report from LexisNexis at 1-866-312-8076 or at: https://personalreports.lexisnexis.com.  Under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, C.L.U.E. reports can be accessed only by the owner, insurer, or lender for the property.  You can ask the owner of the property you wish to purchase order the C.L.U.E. report for that property.  If you discover an error on your C.L.U.E. report, you should contact LexisNexis® directly and report the problem. LexisNexis® will then contact the insurance company on your behalf, ask for clarification on the matter, and notify you of the results within 30 days.    
To view a news story revealing mistakes on C.L.U.E. reports, please visit:  http://www.click2houston.com/news/mistakes-on-insurance-reports-lead-to-massive-price-increases/34299658

United Policyholders has a Great App That Helps Consumers Create Home Inventories and Recover After a Loss

United Policyholders has released a great (and free!) app to help people create home inventories. Insurance companies and the IRS often require detailed inventories to document losses. But, after an event most consumers struggle to pull together all the information. United Policyholders’ new free tool can help policyholders create an inventory and prepare for future events. For more information and to download the app check out United Policyholders’ website at www.uphelp.org

Office of Public Insurance Counsel Announces Historic $352.5 Million in Refunds for State Farm Lloyds’ Policyholders

The Office of Public Insurance Counsel (OPIC) announced on February 27, 2015 that it has reached a settlement requiring State Farm Lloyds to refund $352.5 million in premium overcharges and interest to policyholders. 

Public Counsel Deeia Beck stated, “OPIC is very pleased to settle this long-standing rate dispute with significant refunds to policyholders.  We are particularly glad that OPIC’s legal arguments resulted in the inclusion of policyholders from September 2006 through July 2008 in the settlement.  These policyholders will receive $119.1 million in refunds that they would not have otherwise obtained.” Beck also said, “While we argued for an even larger amount, at the end of the day it comes down to what is best for policyholders. We could have continued the litigation for years resulting in larger refunds, no refunds, or something in between.  Given all of the considerations and risks involved, we concluded that a settlement at this time on our agreed terms was in the best interests of policyholders.”   

A copy of the Settlement Agreement is available for review by clicking here