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North Texas storm damage often results in insurance claims

Anyone living in North Texas for any significant period of time knows that thunderstorms are not to be taken lightly if they are accompanied by high winds and hail. Indeed, the North Texas area is subject to numerous and sometimes severe storms each year. The Texas Department of Insurance observes that the spring and summer months bring especially favorable weather conditions for the development of these strong and severe storms. Although thunderstorms are common and often brief, they are also unpredictable and dangerous to both lives and property.

The University of Texas at Dallas advises that straight-line winds over 100 mph are sufficient to cause substantial damage to homes and other buildings and uproot trees. According to the University, a "severe thunderstorm" is defined as a storm of winds in excess of 58 mph, hail three-quarters of an inch in diameter or a tornado. Hail falling from the sky often causes significant damage to roofs. Nationally, hail storms alone cause over $1 billion in property related damage annually. Interestingly, the HelpInsure.com website ranks Texas as being near the top in the nation in weather-related property damage each year. For those who own a home, having good homeowners insurance in force is imperative.

Ameriprise Financial offers some valuable tips on how to prepare your home in advance for storms that could pose a risk of significant damage. It is suggested that you should make sure that your roof covering is properly reinforced. Housing contractors agree that second-rate roofing can lead to more extensive losses due to a storm. It is advised that you think about investing in top-quality roofing-and a stronger grade of shingles-in order to fortify your home's roof. In addition, it is prudent to strengthen windows and doors since these are your home's weak links when a storm strikes. Using double-pane glass for windows is also a good home improvement investment against storm damage.

Following the storm

The consumer protection group Texas Watch offers some tips on how to deal with an insurance company in the aftermath of a natural disaster which damages your home. First, take notes and pictures immediately after a storm and document everything that you can. Second, obtain a repair estimate from a local contractor that you can use as a guide when you talk to the insurance company's adjuster. Third, if you and your family had to seek shelter elsewhere-such as a hotel-make sure that you keep the receipts since you could be entitled to reimbursement pursuant to the "loss of use" portion of your homeowners' insurance policy.

Keep a journal of all of your contacts with the insurance company as well as unsuccessful attempts to reach the company or your agent. Documenting conversations with the insurance company's agents could be important if you subsequently need to consult with an attorney. Do not sign any documents nor cash any checks from the insurance company without understanding what it means for your claim. If an insurance company tells you that certain damage is not covered, demand proof in the form of insisting that the insurer point out the relevant section of the policy justifying its position.

Seek legal help

Unfortunately, insurance companies can often prove to be difficult to deal with in the aftermath of storm damage. If you find yourself embroiled in a dispute with your insurance company following storm damage to your home, you should contact a Texas attorney experienced in handling insurance cases. The attorney can assist you in resolving your insurance claim.