Insurance in Texas

With the amount of severe weather the North Texas area receives, there’s a good chance that property owners will need to file a claim for storm damage due to hail, strong winds, and the like. Often, the insurance process can feel complex and confusing for property owners.

What to Expect

A typical insurance claim includes the same basic steps, which include information gathering, evaluation of damage, repairs, and submission of receipts. That process usually follows a progression similar to this:

    • Severe weather (or another covered peril, such as fire or flooding) impacts your property.
    • Your roof is inspected by a reputable local roofing contractor, who determines the amount of damage merits replacement of the roof.  (The rest of your exterior may also be inspected by the same contractor, depending on the services provided.)
    • Property owner contacts his/her insurance carrier to make a claim.
    • Insurance carrier gathers information about the potential damage, including the storm date.
    • Insurance carrier sends an adjuster to inspect the property, and determines (from the carrier’s perspective) the extent of the damage.
      [Tip:  It is best to have your preferred roofing contractor present for the adjuster meeting so the roofing contractor can point out storm-related damage the adjuster may miss.]
    • Once the claim is approved, the insurance carrier/adjuster sends the property owner a list of the items covered by the policy that the adjuster has identified as damaged. This is called a “scope.”
    • Insurance carrier releases the ACV (Actual Cash Value) of the items on the scope. (The ACV is the amount your damaged items are currently worth, based on the estimated age & condition of those items.)
      [Tip:  If you have a mortgage on the property, allow extra time for payments to clear, as the mortgage company often needs to counter-sign insurance checks before funds can be provided to your contractor(s).]
    • Provide a copy of the scope to your roofing contractor for review.  Your contractor will assess the thoroughness of the scope, verify that your carrier has used pricing reflecting fair market value, and identify missing items required to restore your property to pre-storm condition and/or required by current building code in your municipality.
    • Discrepancies between your contractor’s assessment and your carrier’s assessment are addressed (through a process called supplementation).
    • Work can begin on your property.  Typically, a partial payment will be requested by your contractor at this stage.
    • When work has been completed, a final invoice is submitted to your insurance carrier, including any additional items discovered during the repair process.
    • Depreciation and/or supplemental funds are released.  [Check out the easy infographic from TDI to better understand ACV, RCV, and depreciation.]
    • Final payment is provided to your contractor
    • You receive your closeout paperwork (payment receipt, warranty, IR roof certification, etc.)

Check out the Texas Department of Insurance’s Glossary of Common Insurance Terms for help understanding the terms on your insurance paperwork.

Tip:  By law – Texas Administrative Code Section 5.9970 (d) & (e), to be exact! – you are entitled to choose the contractor you want to repair the damages to your property.  You are not required to get bids/estimates or choose from a “preferred contractor list.”

We encourage you to contact your insurance carrier or insurance agent directly for questions regarding coverage, terms, and exclusions on your policy.

Resources for Property Owners

Texas property owners can visit the Texas Department of Insurance website, which offers information such as the Consumer Bill of Rights, Frequently Asked Questions, forms such as the Impact Resistant Roof Certification (to get a discount on your insurance), and much more.

Other helpful resources include the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association [NTRCA], the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas [RCAT], and the National Roofing Contractors Association [NRCA], all of which offer information for consumers.

The State of Texas does not currently require licensing for roofing contractors, and building regulations vary from city to city.  GreenLeaf Roofing and other reputable local contractors support continued efforts to have mandatory licensing in Texas, so that property owners have peace of mind, vetting of contractors, and recourse for the “bad apples” in the industry.

Want to contact your elected representatives to encourage them to vote for licensing?  Reach out to your representatives using the contact information on the Who Represents Me? website from the State of Texas.

Changes in Texas Law:

House Bill 1774 (Senate Bill 10), also known as the “Blue Tarp Bill” took effect September 1, 2017.  The bill weakened policyholder protections in the state of Texas by adding new hurdles for policyholders disputing coverage, limiting penalties for carriers who underpay claims, and restricting the ability of contractors to advocate on behalf of their clients with insurance carriers.

Due to these changes, only licensed Public Adjusters and attorneys may now advocate on a client’s behalf.  While this may sound like a benefit to property owners, in reality, a very limited number of licensed Public Adjusters provide services to the average property owner.  Because many Public Adjusters work almost exclusively on large-scale commercial projects, this leaves very little opportunity for residential and small-scale commercial representation – previously provided by local contractors.

The limiting effects of the bill make it crucial for property owners to educate themselves, be involved in the insurance process, and utilize their roofing contractor as a knowledge resource.  These steps will allow property owners to advocate for themselves, ensure payment of the fair market value, and verify receipt of the coverage to which they are entitled by payment of their insurance premiums.

For more details on the bill check out some of the many articles on the topic, including those written for My San Antonio, The Dallas Morning News, Austin-American Statesman, and The Texas Tribune.