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Senate Bill May Curb Lawsuits and Lower Texas Homeowners Insurance Premiums

Texas homeowners may soon have more trouble suing their homeowners insurance company for unpaid claims, especially over weather-related damage, thanks to a new Senate bill.

The bill, which was introduced by Senator Larry Taylor, has garnered a great deal of support from homeowners insurance companies throughout Texas, although it’s been opposed by consumer groups and trial lawyers. Groups opposing the measure say it would take away the rights of property owners.

Senate Bill 1628 would make sweeping changes to how businesses and homeowners can sue insurance companies that do not treat them fairly or do not pay out enough for homeowners insurance and casualty insurance claims. The bill would impose a two-year time limit for policy holders to seek claims.

Before being allowed to sue for unfair claims handling or deceptive practices, policyholders would be required to provide advance notice, sign a statement swearing that damages occurred, and provide proof of the damages. Policy holders would also be required to indicate an amount they would accept in settlement. The purpose of this is allowing insurance companies the chance to settlement legitimate claims after conducting a review. The lawsuit would offer some protection to insurance adjusters and agents while lowering the penalty Texas homeowners insurance face when they are caught delaying or denying claims that are legitimate.

There is one thing that both sides agree on: the number of homeowners insurance lawsuits over wind and hail damage to Texas homes has grown tremendously in recent years. Most of these lawsuits have been made by homeowners who suffered damage following Hurricane Ike hitting the Texas coast in 2008, as well as those who were affected by massive hailstorms.

Texas has more weather-related events than any other state in the country, and hail-related damages are estimated to have cost Texas a whopping $10.5 billion between 2004 and 2013.

According to proponents of the bill, these lawsuits are increasing homeowners insurance premiums in Texas for millions of homeowners.

Litigation rates on hail and wind damage claims have hit up to 30% for some Texas homeowners insurance companies, and about 80% of those lawsuits were filed after the initial claim was paid by the adjuster. Very few consumer complaints have been filed, however.

According to Taylor, the litigation is not consumer-generated. Instead, he claims that lawyers and roofers are making phone solicitations and turning to radio and television ads and door-to-door solicitation to find people willing to sue their insurance company. Immediately after a hail storm, lawyers go through affected areas and do what they can to create disputes, including promising Texans new “free” roofs and easy money if they agree to sue their homeowners insurance company. Homeowners insurance companies, meanwhile, usually pay out more than necessary to avoid costly litigation.

Forty-two Texas counties currently have ongoing hail damage litigation, with 300 lawsuits filed in 25 counties between April 15 and April 23, 2015 alone. Proponents of the bill say that real damages of just a few thousand dollars have been producing claims of more than $100,000. Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys have brought in more than $800 million in attorney’s fees from homeowners insurance lawsuits.

A report published last year found that 5,740 lawsuits were filed in Hidalgo County after two large hail storms in 2012. In April 2013, the number had swelled to 11,000. At least 10,000 people have now lost their homeowners insurance in Hidalgo County, and three major Texas homeowners insurance carriers have stopped offering coverage in the area.

At a recent hearing on this new bill, a housing advocate said that insurance premiums have increased by more than 100% for some households from $500 a year to over $1,200.

Industry representatives say that an estimated $250 million in hail and wind damage to roofs in McAllen, Texas increased to nearly $600 million due to lawsuits.

One example that highlights just how quickly homeowners insurance claims become inflated after an attorney gets involved comes from Mission, Texas, which experienced minimal hail in the 2012 storms. The insurance adjuster’s estimate of damage in one case was about $7,000. After the claim was paid by the insurance provider, the policy holder hired a trial lawyer. The lawsuit was eventually settled in 2014 for an extra $194,000, but no repairs have ever been made to the home. The insurance company in this example is one of three that has since pulled out of the market.

Critics have been quick to say that Taylor should not be carrying the bill as he owns an insurance agency called Taylor Truman Insurance Agency in southeast Texas. Taylor argues that he’s fighting on behalf of consumers by attempting to lower homeowners insurance rates.

Taylor did soften several provisions of the bill that had sparked complaints. The proposed legislation does preserve a homeowner’s right to sue their insurance company and collect an 18% penalty along with pre-judgment interest and attorneys’ fees if the homeowners insurance provider acted wrongly.

Texas already has the third-highest homeowners insurance rates in the United States, largely due to hailstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other weather-related issues. While Texas will always have some of the highest insurance rates in the country because of its location, a bill that limits litigation may just help to lower insurance rates for homeowners across the state, who are now paying more to cover these costs.

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Different Types of Texas Homeowners Insurance

When you invest in homeowners insurance, you must be sure that understand exactly what you are getting. For most people, the home is the largest asset that they will ever invest in. The proper homeowners insurance will make sure that this investment is properly taken care of if something happens to it.

Here is a rundown of the different types of homeowners insurance packages that you may want to consider if you live in the great state of Texas.

Dwelling Insurance

A dwelling policy is the basic homeowners insurance policy in Texas. This is the part of the policy that will pay if your home is damaged by a covered loss. Dwelling insurance also pays in the case of a total loss.

Personal Property Insurance

This is a part of homeowners insurance that many people do not understand: The homeowners insurance policy only protects the actual outer dwelling of the home unless a personal property insurance clause is added. Only then will the homeowners insurance policy cover the items that are in the home such as furniture, jewelry, appliances and clothing.

A homeowner should also look into individual insurance for especially important or expensive items such as jewelry, as there may be a limit as to the amount of money that an insurance company will pay on luxury items under a personal property insurance policy. Personal property is meant more for large items that are necessary as opposed to luxury items.

Other Structures Insurance

If you do not primarily dwell in a piece of property that is on your real estate but not attached to your primary dwelling, then you will need other structures insurance in the state of Texas. This homeowners insurance policy format covers structures such as fences, storage sheds and your garage. Even if your garage is physically attached, there are certain laws that may apply in Texas that view this part of the home as a non-primary dwelling. It will therefore need to be covered under this policy rather than under a dwelling policy.

Loss of Use Insurance

If your home must be repaired because of a loss that is covered by any part of your homeowners insurance policy, then a loss of use insurance clause on your homeowners insurance policy will come in quite handy to you. This policy can be equated to an attached rental car policy on your vehicle insurance.

If repairs need to be made because of a covered loss for any reason, then you and your family will be accommodated if you need to move out of the home temporarily. Although the exact nature of this help will be spelled out in the policy itself, it can include other lodgings, food for yourself and for your family and many other essential expenses that you may incur. When negotiating your homeowners insurance policy, you should make sure that the expense allotment is of a large enough size to accommodate all of the people in your home.

The loss of use policy has two ways in which it usually pays out. The first way is by paying a percentage of the amount of the dwelling coverage. This may be as much as 20% of the coverage. The second way that a loss of use insurance clause may payout is through paying you during a specific period after the loss. In most cases, the payment here can be stretched out to as long as 24 months.

Personal Liability

Personal liability is a very important policy to have if you have neighbors that are relatively close to your dwelling. For instance, if there is an incident with the weather that blows one of your trees into your neighbor’s fence, you can be held legally responsible for this. The expense for this can be quite large if all of it is coming out of your own pocket, and especially if there is damage done to a neighbors dwelling. A personal liability clause in a Texas homeowners insurance policy is one of the easiest ways to avoid an unexpected large out-of-pocket expense, especially when considering all of the weather based damage that is done in the state of Texas.

Personal liability homeowners insurance may also be expanded in order to protect you from having to pay on any personal injury that you are found legally responsible to cause. Keep in mind that just because you may not be directly responsible for an injury does not mean that you will not be held legally responsible. It is in every homeowner’s best interest to check the laws on the books in Texas when it comes to real estate and personal injury claims.

Medical Payments Insurance

If you hold social gatherings on your property, then you may also want to invest in medical payments insurance. A medical payments insurance clause in your Texas homeowners insurance policy is the part of your plan that will pay for people who become injured on your property.

This part of your homeowners insurance policy can also be expanded to include other instances that happen away from your home, such as a dog that you own biting someone in the grocery store. This part of your homeowners insurance can be modified to include much larger amounts than the base coverage pay that is initially negotiated.

Wind-related Incidents

Contrary to popular belief, most Texas homeowners insurance packages do not include coverage for any wind related events. However, the wind is usually what separates the homeowners insurance industry from profitability in most years. There are more accidents around the home that have to do with when than any other type of weather-related accident in the state of Texas.

If it is at all possible, be sure that your homeowners insurance package covers all wind related incidents. This includes damage from surrounding trees that wind may blow onto your property. This part of your homeowners insurance package should be detailed down to the letter so that you know exactly the type of coverage that you can expect from the company if something happens.

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Homeowners Insurance in the Lone Star State

From Tornado Alley to poisonous snakes close to home, Texans from the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains know that homeowners insurance is a must in the Lone Star State. If you are a new homeowner, you may be afraid to ask the question, “What does homeowners insurance entail?” because you think you are already expected to know the ins and outs of owning a home. However, knowing exactly what having homeowners insurance means will help you know what questions to ask when you meet with an insurance agent. Insurance for homeowners is a package policy that helps ensure your home, and the valuables inside your home, are financially protected in case of an unexpected disaster. In addition, a standard homeowners insurance policy should also cover any personal liability for injuries or property damage that occur to another person while in your home or on your land. It is important to note that when you talk to an agent about a homeowners insurance policy, flood and earthquake coverage are separate from a standard policy, so you need to consider if you wish to add those to your package. Also, as a standard rule for insurance for homeowners, damage to a home due to poor maintenance is not covered by any policy. Unfortunately, disaster doesn’t strike when convenient, so the sooner you get homeowners insurance the better you can protect your finances and property.

One of the most common disasters in Texas are tornadoes. The Texas Almanac points out that Texas experiences, on average, 132 tornadoes a year, especially in North Texas and the panhandle. 76% of tornadoes are classified as what is known as “EF0” or “EF1” with winds ranging from 65 mph to 110 mph, according to the Tornado Project. At these wind speeds the dangers lie in downed trees striking homes and minor structural damage. Being prepared with homeowners insurance can alleviate any worry about how you will pay for the total cost of a new garage or a portion of your roof. Furthermore, if on the off chance an “EF4” or “EF5” should come through your area with winds anywhere from 166 mph to above 322 mph and your home is severely damaged, you can have peace of mind knowing that purchasing homeowners insurance will help cover a good portion of the costs associated with re-homing your family.

It’s vital that you understand what you want to ask for concerning natural disaster coverage when you meet with your insurance adviser. Homeowners insurance varies from state to state and company to company, so find out what is considered “covered property” when discussing a plan. The Homeowners Insurance Guide maps out four different kinds of covered property. These include dwellings, other structures, personal property, and loss of use. The dwelling is the actual structure you live in with other structures being those which are not directly attached to the house, such as a shed or barn. The Texas Department of Agriculture states that Texas leads the nation in cattle, sheep, and goat production, so finding out the terms of insuring your barn in relationship to your homeowners insurance policy would be prudent. Personal property are those items within your own, such as electronics and furniture. Remember that, often times, guns and jewelry will need their own separate policies. Finally, loss of use refers to living costs associated with being unable to reside in your own home due to a tornado, severe storm, or other unexpected disaster. Knowing exactly what your homeowners insurance policy covers and what you wish to add will save you from any surprises during moments of crisis.

Another great feature of homeowners insurance is that most policies will cover personal injuries related to animals you own. “Personal” meaning damage done to you or your family. This is especially important in Texas, where owning horses is extremely common. According to the American Horse Council, 2 million people in the United States own horses with 979,000 of these being in Texas. Dangers such as being thrown off the horse or stepped on by your animal are quite common. Owning a homeowners insurance policy is a solid way to help reduce any costs associated with injuries. A homeowners insurance policy will often cover 2-4 animals, so choosing the animals you spend the most time with or looking into expanding your coverage may be the best route to go.

One of the final aspects of homeowners insurance that you will want to know about is theft coverage. Unfortunately, random break-ins are sometimes a reality of living in modern day America, and homeowners insurance can help cover the cost of items stolen from within your home. Again, with guns and jewelry aside, it is a good idea to have larger ticket items in your home appraised from time to time to get an exact amount of what they are worth. Knowing what your rare coin collection or antiques are worth can save you time and confusion when filing a claim after a break-in.

We often don’t want to think about worst case scenarios when buying a new home. Nobody wants to imagine losing a home to a tornado, being injured by their pet, or suffering a robbery. However, if you are able to consider these possibilities long enough to set up a quality homeowners insurance policy you can leave these fears behind for good, knowing that if they do come to pass you will have a great deal of help rebuilding or recovering. Often times, financial support provided by homeowners insurance policies makes the difference between surviving after a disaster and thriving after a disaster, so don’t get caught without proper homeowners insurance coverage- make an appointment with an agent today and buy peace of mind in the Lone Star State.

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About Homeowners Insurance Texas

Everything’s bigger in Texas. Unfortunately, so are homeowners insurance premiums. While the national average for homeowners insurance rates hovers around $860, Texas homeowners are paying an average of $1,100.

Sure, it would be nice to believe the higher rates suffered by Texas homeowners is due to our go big or go home attitude towards everything, including our homes, but a history of floods, unsettling foundations, and exposure to hurricanes are the actual driving factors that make insuring a home in Austin or Corpus Christi more expensive than almost anywhere else in the nation.

“We have been among the highest in the nation for as long as anyone can remember and have always been significantly higher than the national average,” said Alex Winslow of Texas Watch, in a 2010 interview with The Dallas Morning News.

With homeowners insurance premiums so high, homeowners in the lone star state should compare multiple rates and try to take advantage of every possible discount. Currently, there are over 100 insurance companies writing homeowners insurance policies in the state, which is a double-edged sword in many regards. While increased competition typically leads to lower rates, trying to find the right policy for your home at the right price can make the home buying process seem like a walk in the park.

Therefore, it helps to know as much as possible about Texas homeowners insurance before you choose an insurer. Understanding how homeowners insurance works, different types of policies, and typical policy coverages will allow you to make an informed decision and possibly save a ton of money each and every year.

How Homeowners Insurance Works

Your home is your biggest asset, so having adequate homeowners insurance is an absolute must. Essentially, homeowners insurance pays for the replacement of your home and personal property or any repairs that need to be made to your home if it is destroyed or damaged by an event covered under your policy.

A homeowners insurance policy is a written contract between a homeowner and an insurance company. With thousands of dollars on the line, it’s important to carefully read your policy to understand its coverages and limits.

Types of Texas Homeowners Insurance Policies

As a Texas homeowner, you can add endorsements to your policy to ensure your home and personal property is insured against almost any event, but there are really only two different types of policies sold in Texas.

All-risk homeowners insurance policies, also known as open perils or comprehensive coverage policies, provide broad protection, covering any cause of loss not explicitly excluded in the policy. Named perils policies, on the other hand, provide narrower protection, only covering causes of losses specifically stated in the policy.

Policy Coverages

Even all-risk homeowners insurance policies with seemingly comprehensive coverage often exclude coverage for some types of loss. Let’s take a look at the types of losses commonly suffered by Texas homeowners and see whether or not they are covered by a typical homeowners insurance policy.

Losses Covered by Most Texas Homeowners Insurance Policies

  • Hurricanes, windstorms, and hail (may be excluded in coastal locations)
  • Water damage suffered suddenly and accidentally
  • Smoke damage caused suddenly and accidentally
  • Fire and lightning
  • Explosion
  • Vandalism
  • Theft
  • Riots and civil unrest
  • Vehicles and aircraft

Losses Not Covered by Most Texas Homeowners Insurance Policies

  • Earthquakes
  • Flooding
  • Water damage from leaky pipes
  • Freezing pipes when unoccupied for a length of time (unless the home is heated and the water is turned off)
  • Hail and wind damage to trees and landscaping
  • Losses suffered if a home is vacant longer than allotted for coverage by the policy
  • Insects, termites, rats, and mice
  • Mold (except when in relation to water damage covered by the policy)
  • Wear and tear

Extra Coverage Endorsements

If you find yourself wanting extra coverage not offered by a homeowners insurance policy, you will need to add endorsements to your policy. Since most insurance companies charge a premium for extra coverage, you should determine what needs to be covered beforehand and compare premiums and rates with any extra coverage endorsements in mind.

Personal Property Coverage

Many Texas homeowners don’t know that homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for furniture, electronics, clothing, and other personal household items as a percentage of the total policy limit. For instance, if your home is insured for $200,000 and your homeowners insurance policy covers your personal property for up to 25 percent of your home’s coverage, your personal items will be insured for up to $50,000.

Of course, you can always pay a higher premium for more coverage. Some insurance companies may offer lower premiums than others for additional personal property coverage, so you should definitely keep this in mind as well.

Policy Dollar Limits

Many homeowners are happy with inadequate coverage in order to keep their homeowners insurance premiums as low as possible. After all, what are the chances of your street turning into the Mississippi River or Ferguson, Missouri? Unfortunately, these same homeowners are often left scratching their head when their insurance check barely takes care of their home’s value or worse yet, doesn’t cover it at all.

As a homeowner in the great state of Texas or anywhere else, it’s important to take an inventory of your personal items and add their total value to your home’s value when deciding on your policy’s coverage and dollar limit. A dollar limit on a homeowners insurance policy is the maximum amount an insurance company must pay if a home is destroyed. Therefore, it’s important to check your policy’s “Declarations Page” to see exactly what your policy will pay in the event of a disaster.

Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

As you can see, there are a number of pricing and coverage factors to consider when shopping for homeowners insurance in Texas. However, other factors like a company’s complaint index, license status, and financial rating should also be considered.

Fortunately, there are some well-known and respected Texas insurance companies that provide excellent coverage and score well in all these categories, allowing you to live comfortably knowing your home and family is protected.

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Saving on Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance is one of those responsibilities that come with home ownership. Anyone who is carrying a mortgage on a home must have homeowners insurance. However, the benefits of insurance not only benefit the bank should something seriously go wrong, but they also protect homeowners personal property. If you’re just getting acquainted with home ownership or have just moved to Texas, these helpful tips provide a good introduction to homeowners insurance.

Documenting Personal Property

One of the first things that an insurance agent will discuss with you is your personal property. Personal property insurance covers your possessions such as expensive jewelry, furniture, fine art, appliances, clothing, TV’s, stereos, cameras, tools, computers, antiques, collectibles and musical instruments.

Unfortunately, some people use random figures for personal property coverage on homeowners insurance and may not know where their receipts are located. In essence, if their personal belongings were destroyed in a fire for example, they really have no concrete evidence as to what they owned, the condition of the items or what they were worth.

Consequently, the best thing you can do for yourself and your homeowners insurance policy is to make documented records of your valuable possessions.

Video tape all your possessions in your home, or take photos if videotaping isn’t an option. Either one of these options should prove you own the items, and the condition of them for homeowners insurance documentation.

Next, you should keep a written list of each item stating the name of the item, manufacturer, location in the home and a receipt of the purchase. Whenever possible, include model and serial numbers.
Keep this documentation for homeowners insurance in a safe place like a relative’s house or in a safety deposit box where it won’t be destroyed if your lodging is damaged by fire, flooding or a hurricane.

It’s also a good idea to check with your insurance agent to discuss the preferred methods for documenting proof of ownership on belongings.

Texas Homeowners Insurance

House insurance is all about protecting your treasured belongings and of course the structure of the home. In many states, a general insurance policy takes care of most things affecting your home.

However, Texas is a little different. Homeowners are faced with a variety of naturally occurring events like hurricanes in the fall and tornados in the spring, which is important when buying homeowners insurance.
Average policies cover some wind damage, however, damage resulting from tornados or hurricanes could fall into another category.

For instance, flooding damage caused by a hurricane is not covered under standard insurance policies. When setting up new coverage for your home or re-evaluating coverage, you should always discuss the details of your policy and whether you need to get a separate policy for damage resulting from tornados or hurricanes.

Saving on Homeowners Insurance

When purchasing home insurance, it’s a wise idea to listen to your insurance agent that has the experience and expertise to guide you when selecting coverage. After all, they’re in the business, and they understand the legal terms that may be confusing to the average homeowner.

However, there are still several decisions that you should make, and there are many ways that you can save money on homeowners insurance. Remember each insurance policy should be tailored to each individual homeowner and home because every situation is just a bit different.

Size Matters

The size of a home greatly affects your costs for homeowners insurance. Obviously, larger homes run more to insure than smaller homes because of the size of the house and rebuilding costs.

Location is Key

The location of your new home really plays an important part in your premium costs for homeowners insurance. For instance, if you’re living relatively close to the neighborhood fire station, the insurance company feels more secure and is more likely to include a nice discount in your policy.

In addition, purchasing a home in the better area of town could reduce homeowners insurance rates because the chance of vandalism may be reduced.

Avoid buying in designated flood zones that can influence the need for a special rider and increased costs.

Save Big with Multiple Policies

Many people are surprised to learn that if you insure you home, boat or automobile with the same company, you’re probably qualified to receive a multi-policy discount. This can add up to a nice savings of about 10 percent, which may apply to each type of policy that you get.

Homeowners Insurance Rates are Lower on New Homes

Although, insurance companies are in business to cover damages to your dwelling when they occur, they prefer to avoid repairs. However, when you buy a newer home, it’s likely that the air conditioning, heating, plumbing and electrical will be in tip-top shape and not need repairs.

Therefore, homeowners that purchase new homes reap the benefits from insurance companies with lower rates on homeowners insurance. You might shave off as much as 8 to 15 percent.

Double Check Personal Property Coverage

Frequently, it pays off to examine your personal property coverage carefully on homeowners insurance. Your agent may suggest a coverage limit that fits typical homeowners. However, in your situation, the limits may be high if you don’t have many possessions. It’s certainly worth asking about.

Deductibles Make a Difference

If dealing with homeowners insurance is a new concept for you, you’ll need to learn about deductibles. This is the dollar amount you must pay out of your wallet for damage repairs, before your insurance coverage picks up the remaining balance.

Everyone is responsible for paying their monthly, quarterly or yearly premium for homeowners insurance. However, if you were to increase your deductible amount on the policy, your premium payment drops. In the end, you’ll save money on premium payments if you never have to make a claim. The downside is if you do have to make a claim, it costs you more because the deductible applied to the claim is higher.

Don’t feel awkward when you don’t understand everything in your homeowners insurance policy, or you need to talk about flooding coverage in Texas. Your agent is ready to help you with coverage and answer questions.

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Homeowners Insurance and Weatherization

Everyone is looking for a good deal on home insurance. That can make a big difference in your monthly budget. Assuming that you have shopped around for the best plan in your area, then you might think there isn’t anything more you can do. However, there are actually ways you can get a discount on your home insurance.

Your home insurance company benefits when you take steps to make your home safe from damage. They are willing to give you a reduction in your rate if you show them that you are reducing the risk that you will make a claim. One of the most common and useful ways to get a home insurance rate reduction is weatherization.

This varies considerably depending on where you are. In Texas, there are different ways to protect your home against natural damage and disasters. Home insurance companies would rather collect a reduced rate from you than deal with you making a claim after a storm or flood damages your home. That is an opportunity for you, because there are some useful ways for you to protect your home that will also reduce the cost of your home insurance. It’s a win win, because having your home suffer damage from natural weather and similar disasters leads to a difficult process, during which you need to make repairs while working with the home insurance carrier to find a solution. Reducing the risk of that happening and getting a discount on your monthly home insurance premium at the same time is a good deal.

The first type of weather-proofing you can undertake that can save you money is getting your gutters cleaned. Having leaves and similar detritus accumulate in your gutters presents a risk of water damage. This happens because the water in the gutters spills out onto the ground. That leads to cracked foundations, water leaking into the basement, water damage in any wooden parts of the house, and similar problems. Twice a year, either hire someone to clean out the gutters or clean them out yourself- it is not a particularly difficult task. Your home insurance carrier will not be eager to pay a claim on water damage if that damage came from preventable gutter overflow.

While gutters can lead to damage as a result of problems that build up over time, there are other problems that can cause damage suddenly. The most significant threat that can affect home insurance rates in Texas is probably storm damage. There are different ways for you to protect your home from storms. First of all, think about impact resistance. Heavy wind can cause objects to hit your doors and windows, which can lead to shattering. Installing impact resistant doors and windows will protect you from that risk. In addition, you might enjoy benefits like noise reduction. Because of the potential damage from glass breakage during a storm and the possibility of subsequent damage to the interior as a result of the wind and rain entering the home, home insurance companies are often willing to provide their customers with a discount or reimbursement if they install impact-resistant doors and windows. One important step to take before installing them is to find out if they meet the standards from the Texas Department of Insurance. The TDI sets rules for hurricane resistant installations, so it is important to make sure your choice of product is compliant with those rules before asking your home insurance company for a discount.

Aside from windows and doors, the roof is a part of the home that is vulnerable to storm damage. It is possible to make the shingles and the other components of the roof to resist wind, hail, fire, and other hazards. Hail in particular is one of the largest sources of home insurance claims in the state of Texas. In fact, it is so damaging that Texas state law requires home insurance carriers to offer homeowners a discount on their insurance if they can prove that they have installed a roof that meets the state insurance department’s standards. These standards can be quite demanding to ensure that the roof is of sufficient strength to actually withstand hails and storm damage. Roof damage is not always catastrophic. It can turn into leaks that build up and cause damage over time. Home insurance carriers are reluctant to pay claims on leaks if they are not addressed immediately, so heading off the problem with a strong roof is a good strategy.

To know how you might benefit from steps like these, call up your home insurance carrier. Your potential savings will vary depending on your plan, carrier, location, and your specific situation. The specific guidance in this article might or might not apply to your policy, but the underlying idea of saving money on home insurance rates through weather-proofing is common to all companies. Give your carrier a call and see if they are willing to tell you about any offers they might have for home insurance rate reductions in exchange for weatherizing your home.

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All you Need to Know About Homeowners Insurance in Texas

Purchasing a home is the biggest purchase the average American makes in their lifetime. It only makes sense that homeowners insurance is a common complimentary purchase. Homeowners insurance not only gives people peace of mind, but it also guarantees them a protection of their investment. Most people think homeowners insurance is the same in every state, but the reality is each state has different policies. Here is everything you need to know about homeowners insurance in Texas.

What is Covered by Homeowners Insurance in Texas?

There are six general situations that are covered by Texas homeowners insurance. Dwelling coverage handles any damage that is a result of a covered loss. Be careful here, as some homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude things like natural disasters that are common in the area. Personal property coverage takes care of any of your things that are destroyed by a covered loss, and also covers repairs for non-attached structures like sheds or garages.

Loss of use is a coverage designed to provide owners of homeowners insurance with supplemental funds to pay for living expenses when the occupant must move for repairs to take place. The final two coverage areas are personal liability and medical, which both cover costs associated with a person getting injured on the insured property.

This is the general gist of what’s covered by homeowners insurance in Texas, but it is important to remember that the specific amount of coverage for each category depends on the particular policy. As with everything in life, you get a better policy if you pay a higher premium.

The Two Types of Homeowners Insurance Policies

The two basic types of homeowners insurance policies are all-risk policies and named perils policies.

All-risk policies are the best choice for homeowners that want a broad and extensive coverage. These policies are much more expensive, but they provide homeowners with a true sense of security. On the other hand, named perils policies only cover what the customer chooses to pay for. This is much cheaper per month, but it does not offer the same extensive protection.

Two important concepts that pop up in both types of policies are replacement cost and actual cash value. Replacement cost is the complete cost it would take to repair your home. Actual cash value is what your house is worth at the time of damage. As a house gets older the value goes down. If your homeowners insurance policy just covers actual cash value, then you might have to pay out-of-pocket for some repairs.

Does an All-Risk Policy Cover Everything?

A grave misconception many homeowners have is that an all-risk homeowners insurance policy covers every single type of damage. The reality is that these policies often have language to specifically exclude certain types of damage. When it comes to Texas, natural disaster coverage is one of the biggest things that may be excluded from an all-risk policy. Two natural disasters generally not covered by homeowners insurance are floods and earthquakes.

Texas is a flat coastal state that is hardly above sea level. Flooding is a common occurrence, so general policies often exclude this damage. They chalk it up to a risk of living in such an area. Homeowners do have the option to buy specific insurance for things like flooding and earthquakes to ensure their peace of mind. Hurricane coverage depends on a county to county basis. An area in northern Texas is much more likely than an area on the Gulf coast to offer hurricane coverage.

Another thing not covered by an all-risk policy is pest damage. Any damage from things like termites, rats, and mice are seen as a result of owner negligence. Other issues that fall under owner negligence are natural wear and tear, water damage that results from continuous seepage, and mold damage. If the homeowner doesn’t maintain their home to protect it from these issues, then the insurance company believes these issues would not have occurred.

The final thought regarding all-risk homeowners insurance policies is to be aware of exactly what you are paying for when purchasing the insurance. It would be illegal for a an insurance company to omit language that excludes a type of damage for a policy they advertise as “comprehensive”. Anything they exclude is written in any document you sign and should also be communicated to you by your agent.

Since each state has its own unique issues, each state has differences in what their homeowners insurance policy covers. While the aforementioned information makes all-risk policies sound bad, the truth is these policies do cover a wide spectrum of events. Some of the things covered include sudden or accidental water damage, loss caused by aircraft or vehicles, damage done during a riot or civil unrest, vandalism, explosion, theft, lightning, fire, and sudden smoke damage.

The bottom line on homeowners insurance is that it is one of the biggest purchasing decisions any homeowner will face. Paying for the right homeowners insurance now can literally be a life-saver if the worst should happen. The most important thing to remember is that each state is different. By absorbing this information, you will unlock the toolkit for purchasing the best homeowners insurance in Texas.

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Why do you Need Homeowners Insurance?

Most people who have or are thinking of getting homeowners insurance just assume that it’s something that they need if they have a mortgage. While it’s essential for you to carry homeowners insurance if your Texas home currently has a mortgage, homeowners insurance can also help to pay for many damages and issues that could come up for you as a homeowner. Being a homeowner is quite a responsibility, and most people who own their own houses don’t necessarily know how to fix things that might need repairs or replacement entirely. This is where your homeowners insurance comes in handy, and it’s why lots of people are putting full trust into their policy to protect them from major expenses down the road.

What Exactly is Homeowners Insurance?

With homeowners insurance, you’re dealing with protective coverage very much like the one you have for your vehicles. Auto insurance often pays for all or most of the damages if you get into an accident or if something happens to your car. The same applies with your homeowners insurance policy. The insurance is there to protect you in the case of major or even minor problems. Wildfires, for instance, are quite common in Texas, and your homeowners insurance policy may cover this if it happens to your house.

While no one likes to think about major things happening to their home, homeowners insurance is that extra blanket of protection you need to prevent problems before they happen. Floods, fires, theft and even minor issues here and there can easily be covered by your insurance provider. Obviously, like your auto insurance, homeowners insurance coverage will vary depending on the type of home you have, dangers relevant to your specific location as well as the type of coverage that you want. Some homeowners go with the bare minimum amount of coverage, but this may still pay for certain things that come up.

What Can the Insurance Cover?

As stated before, your homeowners insurance policy can vary depending on how much you want to pay for it and what type of coverage you either need or want for the house. In general, homeowners insurance can cover anything within the confines of your house and property. These things can be minor in nature or even major in nature. For example, something minor that may be covered by your homeowners insurance plan would be a paint spill that ruins your flooring. Something major that may be covered by your insurance would be a fire that ravishes the entire house. Even though the paint spill may seem like something quite minor, it can be costly to repair and replace the flooring that was damaged. This is where the homeowners insurance comes in handy for you and your loved ones.

Minor things that may be covered by your homeowners insurance would be paint spills, broken windows, frozen or broken plumbing pipes and many others. More major things that could potentially be covered by your homeowners insurance would be fire, water damage, burglary, lightening damage and wind damage. Whether it is something quite minor or something incredibly major, your homeowners insurance policy is what you will turn to in the case that anything happens to your home.

How Does Home Insurance Work?

The way that homeowners insurance works is very similar to how auto insurance would work for you in Texas. You get the policy and plan that you need and pay for it monthly. Many people like to tie their homeowners insurance into their mortgage in order to pay one flat fee each month. The coverage goes into effect once you begin paying for it. If something happens to your home, whether it is minor or major, you will file a claim with your homeowners insurance company and they will send someone out to do an assessment of the damage to figure out how much money is needed to do repairs.

It’s vital that you find the right homeowners insurance policy for you because you do not want to get stuck holding the bag because your coverage doesn’t cover many things. It may be worth the extra money and investment put into the homeowners insurance so that it covers more for you and your family. This way, you will know that your damages are covered fully or mostly if something happens down the road. Having the ideal homeowners insurance plan is simple to get and can do you a world of good long-term. For anyone living in or around the amazing state of Texas, it’s vital to have a great policy for your home so that you do not have to deal with doing repairs or spending money to hire someone to do them for you simply because you do not have home insurance.

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Proposed Changes in Texas Law Impacts Homeowners Insurance

Severe weather is a fact of life for the residents of Texas. The arrival of spring brings some of the most damaging thunderstorms in the world, including torrential rain, hail, and tornadoes. Homeowners insurance is essential to protect the property owner in the event of damage from severe weather. Increased rates in homeowners insurance and an avalanche of lawsuits relating to property damage claims has created a situation where homeowners insurance is becoming too expensive, or not offered at all, for consumers in some areas.

An increase in the frequency and ferocity of storms in recent years has cost insurance companies and homeowners insurance policyholders in Texas billions of dollars. A June 2012 hailstorm caused $900 million in damage in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. In 2014 three towns in Texas reported storms that produced hail the size of baseballs, resulting in millions of dollars in damage to residential and commercial properties. There were also four hurricanes to make landfall in the state between 2005 and 2009. As a result, companies offering homeowners insurance policies in Texas began increasing rates. According to a September 2014 report in the Dallas Morning News, the three largest insurance companies in Texas increased rates on homeowners insurance by as much as 20.9% since the beginning of 2013. Insurers that write homeowners insurance policies claim that rates normally go up in areas that are affected by severe weather. However, some members of the insurance industry, along with some politicians in Texas attribute some of the rise in rates to an explosion in hail damage claims in the state since 2010.

A proposal to change the process of litigation involving hail damage claims is currently moving through the Texas Legislature. Texas Senate Bill 1628 is an attempt to address the significant increase in property damage claims resulting in litigation against insurance companies. The bill passed the Texas Senate on April 30 and is intended to help homeowners insurance consumers by reducing the ability of attorneys to solicit and file frivolous lawsuits involving property damage, with the main target being hail damage claims. According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, insurance companies nationwide saw an 84% increase in homeowners insurance claims related to hail damage between 2010 and 2012. The cause of the largest percentage of homeowners insurance claims in Texas is hail, producing approximately $10.3 billion dollars in claims from 2004-13.

Advocates of Texas Senate Bill 1628 claim that the increase in hail damage cases in Texas are primarily driven by aggressive solicitation practices by law firms and contractors, and that by reducing the number of lawsuits insurance companies will be able to avoid future rate increases and provide better service for their policyholders. Senator Larry Taylor, a co-sponsor of the bill, claims that the changes are also intended to help homeowners insurance consumers in parts of the state where insurance companies have stopped writing policies because of frequent storms. The bill proposes to further assist consumers in the homeowners insurance market in Texas by reducing the amount of fraud associated with storm damage claims and diminishing the motivation for contractors and law firms to proceed with fraudulent claims.

As of today, more than 30,000 lawsuits have been filed in Hidalgo County related to two storms that occurred there in 2012. Over 9,000 of those lawsuits are still pending. Some independent agents claim that they have seen an increase in the number of insurance companies that have ceased writing homeowners insurance policies in parts of Hidalgo County, which the proponents of Senate Bill 1628 claim will increase rates for homeowners insurance policyholders. The bill is designed to target these cases specifically by introducing time limits on plaintiffs seeking to resolve their claims with insurance companies in court. The bill also requires plaintiffs to be fully aware of the details of their case and the amount in damages they are seeking before the case is allowed to proceed, which is designed to slow the amount of lawsuits that firms are able to file.

Critics of Senate Bill 1628 claim that insurance companies, on the heels of record profits in the state in the last several years, are also responsible for the number of lawsuits homeowners insurance policyholders are taking to court. Texas Watch, a consumer advocacy group, claims that while insurance premiums have gone up in the state, the companies have been unfairly decreasing damage settlements in homeowners insurance claims, leaving homeowners insurance policyholders with no alternative but litigation.

Regardless of the outcome of Senate Bill 1628, the homeowners insurance market is rapidly changing in Texas. As the mercury rises, storms and hurricanes will threaten areas of the state, exemplifying the need for policyholders to stay updated and know what is in their current policy.

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Different Things that Can Impact your Homeowners Insurance

For most people who own their own house, homeowners insurance is one of the most vital things to get for yourself and your family. With homeowners insurance, different things can be covered for your own benefit down the road. For instance, a homeowners insurance policy that covers flood damages will help to get these damages paid for and repaired without you having to put too much into it out of your own pocket. As with any and all other insurance plans, homeowners insurance policies and rates can vary from one house to another. For those living in the great state of Texas, there are quite a number of factors that can contribute to the amount of coverage you can get as well as how much you will pay for your policy.

The Different Factors Affecting your Insurance

There are a wide range of factors that can easily affect your Texas homeowners insurance. Understanding these factors may help you to realize why your rate might be higher than another homeowner’s and why your coverage may be lacking.

The Age of the Home

Older homes have a tendency to cost more when it comes to their homeowners insurance. The reason for this is due to old designs and poorer quality in workmanship. When your older home was built, there may not have been very many building codes put into place for houses. Because of this, your home may not be seen as sturdy as a house that was freshly built in your area. There are many older homes around Texas, so it’s pretty common to own a very old house.

Heating and Air Conditioning Appliances

Even though many people in Texas do not necessarily need to use heat much of the year, certain homes have fireplaces or wood burning stoves put into place. These appliances as well as older AC systems can put more into your homeowners insurance because of the fact that they are seen as a liability. Gas-powered machines and appliances within your house may also negatively affect your homeowners insurance rate.


Believe it or not, some homeowners insurance companies will actually put more money into your rate if you have a large dog or a dog that is of a commonly aggressive breed. This is simply because the company sees the dog as a liability if it gets loose and causes trouble on the property.

Your Specific Area

Texas is well known for its droughts and wildfires, and this is why homes in this gorgeous state often have higher homeowners insurance rates. Your specific location will determine the type of issues you might deal with on a more regular basis. People living near the water in Texas may have higher homeowners insurance rates because of floods while others may be more inclined to deal with wildfires that jack up their homeowners insurance policy rates.

Pools and Trampolines

Your gorgeous swimming pool that you just cannot live without can also affect the amount that you pay for your homeowners insurance rate. Many insurance companies see swimming pools as a liability because of the fact that someone can get seriously injured using the pool itself. The same theory applies to homes that have trampolines and small children who may be using the trampoline on a routine basis.

Your Credit Score and Claim History

Just like other loans and insurances out there, your claim history and credit score may be taken into account when applying for homeowners insurance. If you have a history of constantly making claims for different things within your home, this may eventually negatively affect your insurance rates. Some companies will even take your credit score into account since this gives them an idea as to how financially sound you are and how easily it will be for you to keep up with your homeowners insurance.

When it comes to finding the absolute best insurance policy, it’s all about knowing what coverage is available and what types of costs are associated with this coverage. Many companies will enable you and even encourage you to tie in your homeowners insurance into your mortgage payments so that it is one flat fee for you to pay each month. Other people who do not have a mortgage on their own because it has been paid off can easily apply for homeowners insurance and get the policy that they need to just pay it when it’s due. Having a great quality homeowners insurance is one of the best ways to prevent you from having to pay for all of the damages if something happens on your property or inside of your home. For those living in Texas, it’s vital for you to get a great coverage plan that will give you peace of mind.

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