3 Steps for Policyholders with Harvey Claims to Take Before the August 25th Deadline

All policyholders should know that the deadline to submit a Proof of Loss form for a Harvey flood insurance claim is August 25, 2018. In just a few short weeks, any policyholder who has filed a flood insurance claim will not be able to submit a supplemental Proof of Loss or file an appeal for a potentially underpaid or wrongfully denied claim.

Policyholders file a flood insurance claim after a flood and typically have 60 days after the date of loss to file a Proof of Loss. This form is a sworn statement from the policyholder stating the amount of money needed to repair the damage. The Proof of Loss also requires additional documentation showing the property lost or damaged by flooding.

Hurricane Harvey is one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit southeast Texas. Thousands of homeowners and businesses faced nearly irreparable damage. To date, policyholders have filed more than 91,000 insurance claim while FEMA has paid over $8 billion in claims.

In the aftermath of the storm, FEMA chose to extend the 60-day deadline to 365 days. This extension is common after natural disasters when many policyholders face an extraordinary amount of damage.

Flood insurance policyholders must not miss this deadline. If a policyholder has yet to file a supplemental Proof of Loss (to submit additional damages after the initial claim and Proof of Loss has been filed), he or she will lose the right to pursue any further action like file an appeal or legally contest an underpaid or wrongfully denied claim at a later date.

Though the Proof of Loss and any additional documentation must be submitted by August 25th, policyholders are still able to dispute the claim amount or start the appeals process after the deadline if they have submitted the necessary Proof of Loss.

If you still have an open claim, or a claim that was wrongfully denied or underpaid, follow these next steps before the August 25th deadline passes by.

1. Do not delay—take action

While the 365-day extension may seem like a lot of time, flood insurance claims can be incredibly complex, not to mention time-consuming, for policyholders.

After a disaster such as Harvey, flood insurance claims are often handled by multiple insurance adjusters. These are adjusters may not be local to the area and/or may be juggling a huge case load. Consequently, policyholders can face longer wait times and unresponsive adjusters.

If you are still debating how to handle a flood insurance claim, do not delay any longer. With the August 25th deadline fast approaching, it is imperative to act as soon as possible. Even if a policyholder has a rightful claim to a higher claim amount for the flood damage, he or she will lose the ability to seek additional damages after August 25th.

Despite the many complications that can occur during the flood insurance process, the FEMA deadline is final. Policyholders must submit all Proof of Loss forms before the August 25th deadline.

Policyholders should act quickly if they have additional damages or their claim has been underpaid or wrongfully denied. They should not sign anything without speaking with an attorney with previous flood insurance claim experience who can review their case and discuss their options with them.

Regardless of what the best course of action is for a policyholder, it is vital not to waste time.

2. Collect all necessary documentation

Because the flood insurance process can be so demanding and go on for months, it is important for policyholders to gather as much documentation as possible. Insurance companies will use any reason to deny a claim outright or pay out the lowest claim amount possible.

Therefore, policyholders must be diligent and keep all relevant documentation and correspondence involved in the claim. The property owners also should have a copy of their flood insurance policy readily available to reference.

Policyholders should keep all documentation in organized in one central place such as a binder. If they have photos of their home before the flood or have recorded water or flood damages on video, it is important to have easy access to the files.

After property is destroyed or badly damaged after flooding, policyholders must deal with numerous contractors. When policyholders receive estimates and oversee repair work, they should also make sure to receive everything in writing.

Any receipts for property lost or damaged in flooding should be saved in a central location as well.

These types of documentation may be crucial in claiming the full amount to which the property owner is entitled. When policyholders have detailed and thorough documentation, it is much easier for an attorney to quickly and correctly assess their case.

3. Consult with an attorney and file a supplemental Proof of Loss if needed

The August 25th deadline is important because if the initial payments given by the insurance company are not enough to cover the flood damages and make the necessary repairs, the policyholder must file a supplemental Proof of Loss to claim the full amount needed to properly fix the property.

The typically flood insurance policy reimburses up to $250,000 for residential damage and $500,000 for businesses. Policyholders are entitled to receive the full amount needed to fix their damaged property.

This upcoming August deadline is the last opportunity for policyholders to submit a supplemental claim. After this deadline, they will no longer have an option to pursue additional damages under their flood insurance policy per FEMA rules.

If policyholders have already submitted more than one Proof of Loss, they can still submit additional Proof of Loss forms. There is no limit to the number of Proofs of Loss that a policyholder can submit.

If a policyholder has previously submitted a Proof of Loss but made a mistake on the form, August 25th is also the last day to correct the error and resubmit the form. Furthermore, if policyholder did not submit sufficient evidence (or documentation) to accompany the Proof of Loss, August 25th is the deadline to submit the Proof of Loss with the necessary evidence.

Our attorneys have handled many flood insurance claims. Too often a policyholder misses out on the opportunity to resubmit a claim, submit a supplemental Proof of Loss form or take legal action because he or she was unaware of the August 25th deadline. Essentially, the claim will be closed after the deadline if the policyholder fails to submit a Proof of Loss.

Though the August 25th deadline is fast approaching, an experienced attorney can handle the tight deadline and prevent policyholders from forfeiting a higher claim amount.

If you think your flood insurance claim has been wrongfully denied or underpaid, consult with one of our attorneys as soon as possible.

With a free consultation, you can find out if your best option as a policyholder is to file a supplemental Proof of Loss, start the appeals process or take another course of legal action.

If you are unsure what next steps to take regarding your claim, or if you feel your claim is stuck either in appeals or with red tape from the insurance company, reach out to the experienced trial attorneys at Fitts Law Firm. We can help you make sure that you receive everything to which you are rightfully owed.

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