Homeowner's Insurance: Useful Information
Homeowners insurance pays to repair or replace your house and personal property if they're damaged or destroyed by an event or occurrence covered by your policy. These events or occurrences are called "covered losses."
Note: An insurance policy is a contract between you and your insurance company. Read it carefully to understand exactly what it covers and the dollar limit of the coverage. You should also understand your rights. Texas has a Consumer Bill of Rights for homeowners and renters insurance. Your company must send you the Bill of Rights when you get or renew a policy.
Most homeowners insurance policies in Texas include the following coverages:
- Dwelling: pays if your house is damaged or destroyed by a covered loss.
- Personal property: pays if the items in your house (such as furniture, clothing, and appliances) are damaged, stolen, or destroyed.
- Other structures: pays to repair or rebuild structures not attached to your house, such as detached garages, storage sheds, and fences.
- Loss of use: pays your additional living expenses (housing, food, and other essential expenses) if you have to temporarily move because of damage to your house from a covered loss. Your policy will pay either a percentage of the amount of your dwelling coverage (typically 10 to 20 percent) or for a specific period after the loss (such as 24 months).
- Personal liability: pays to defend you in court against lawsuits and provides coverage if you are found legally responsible for someone else's injury or property damage.
- Medical: pays the medical bills of people hurt on your property. It might also pay for some injuries that happen away from your home, such as your dog biting someone at the park. A basic homeowners policy pays $500 in medical bills, but you may buy up to $5,000 in medical payments coverage
Windstorm and Hail Insurance
Most homeowners policies don't cover windstorm and hail damage if you live in any of the 14 coastal counties or parts of Harris County on Galveston Bay. The Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) is the state's insurer of last resort for windstorm and hail coverage. You may buy TWIA coverage through local insurance agents if you need it.
When a hurricane enters the Gulf of Mexico (80 degrees longitude and 20 degrees latitude), you may no longer change or buy windstorm coverage.
If you plan to build, add to, or renovate a home or other structure and want to get or maintain TWIA coverage, you must get a certificate of compliance (WPI-8) by having your property inspected during the construction phase. You can get an inspection from a TDI windstorm inspector or from a Texas-licensed professional engineer appointed by TDI. Ask your agent how to get an inspection. For more information about windstorm coverage, visit the TWIA website at twia.org or call 1-800-788-8247.
For more information or questions about TWIA claims, visit TDI's Coastal Outreach and Assistance Services Team (COAST) program website or call 1-855-35COAST (1-855-352-6278).
Homeowners policies don't cover flood damage. To protect yourself from losses caused by most flooding, you may buy a separate flood insurance policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) runs NFIP. If your property is in a special flood hazard area, your lender will require you to have flood insurance. A special flood hazard area has a 1 percent chance of being flooded in any given year.
Local insurance agents sell NFIP flood policies and can tell you about the program in your area. For more information, visit the NFIP website or call 1-800-427-4661.