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Like most of you across the country, we here at Ramsey Solutions have been overwhelmed by the devastating images from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey striking Southeast Texas. Our hearts and prayers go out to each and every individual being impacted by this tragedy.
If you or a loved one were in the path of Harvey, you likely have an onslaught of pressing questions on your mind right now—everything from flood insurance to disaster relief efforts. We’re here to walk with you and shed some light on a few of the questions you might have:
Is flooding covered by normal home owner’s insurance as an "act of God"?
No, because floods are considered separate from hurricane damage, you need specific flood insurance to cover it. Wind damage is covered through homeowners insurance, but any water damage is not. Flood insurance is provided through the federal government with The National Flood Insurance Program. You are required to purchase it if you live inside a flood zone. Unfortunately, most of the city of Houston isn’t considered to be in a flood zone area. But be sure to check with your insurance company. Depending on the nature of damage to your house, you could be partially covered.
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How do I file a flood claim?
Step 1: Notify your insurance company
First, you need to let your insurance company know you’ve experienced flood damage. This will get the process started for you. Ideally, the sooner you contact them, the sooner you should receive your claim check. Make sure you have your policy number and contact info handy when you give them a call.
Step 2: Document all the damage
You need to take pictures of all the property that was damaged. This should include structural damage, standing floodwaters, and objects that were ruined. Be sure to make a list of all items with as much information you can provide, like estimated item value, date of purchase, and any receipts you may still have on hand.
Step 3: Provide a Proof of Loss statement
The Proof of Loss is your signed and sworn statement that provides documentation of the damage to your possessions and home. You need to file Proof of Loss documentation with your insurance company within 60 days. Your adjuster will help you with this process.
What can I do if I don’t have flood insurance?
You can apply for federal disaster relief benefits, but those come in the form of low interest loans—which we do not recommend. This is exactly why having an emergency fund is so essential. It puts a buffer between you and the curve balls life can throw at you. If you have an emergency fund in place, now is the right time to use it.
Are banks offering forbearance programs for mortgage holders who are flood victims?
Honestly, it depends on the bank. For example, if you are impacted by a natural disaster, Wells Fargo will suspend negative reporting to credit bureaus and won’t charge you late fees. Customers who contact them can get disaster relief and postpone their payments.(1) Only do this if you absolutely can’t make it work any other way. There is no need to dig a hole financially if you can avoid it.
Does the Red Cross charge for their services?
This is completely false. The shelters and services Red Cross provides are free.
I’ve been told to file homeowner’s insurance claims before Friday, September 1, because of a law that is about to change—is this true?
This law only applies to people filing a lawsuit against their insurance company, so it doesn’t affect the majority of Texans. Plus, the law only relates to private insurance companies, while flood insurance is generally provided by the government.
Here’s How You Can Help!
Volunteers from all over the country are descending upon Southeast Texas to lend a hand. If you’re able to help by volunteering on the ground, please do. But even if you don’t live near the area, you can still help those in need through donating to the relief efforts.
You can volunteer your time or donate money through the aid of Samaritan’s Purse.
You can also send a donation through the Salvation Army.
Crosspoint Church — Pearland, Texas
Make a donation through the church here. Absolutely 100% of the donations received will go directly toward helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Donate funds through the Red Cross as they help families affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Red Cross Shelters
Are you in need of safe housing during this time? These shelters across the Southeast Texas area provide a place to sleep, meals, water, and health services for free. Pets are welcome too! No reservation is needed to stay. Find a local Red Cross shelter here.
The need in Southeast Texas will be vast, even after the media attention has subsided. Consider donating to local shelters and food banks that will continue to bring aid to the area in the weeks and months to come.
Don’t Mess With Texas
"Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit." — Bern Williams
Despite the circumstances of today, we always have hope to cling to for tomorrow. Although you may be experiencing the harsh impacts of Hurricane Harvey, it cannot defeat the structure that makes up your human spirit. We stand with you, Texas.