Natural disasters can happen at any moment, often without warning. Before you have a chance to avoid the problem, they can cause severe damage to your property—as can the negligent or deliberately damaging behavior of another individual or even unexpected circumstances.
What can you do? At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we help our clients understand their legal right to compensation following severe damage to their properties. We can help with every step of the process, from negotiating with insurance companies to helping ensure that our clients understand the full compensation they deserve. Contact our San Antonio property damage attorneys today to learn more.
Common Sources of Property Damage in San Antonio
Some damage to your property occurs naturally over time from wear and tear. In those cases, you may need to take care of this property damage. On the other hand, if a natural disaster or other event damaged your property, you may seek compensation through your insurance company. Take a look at these common sources of property damage throughout the San Antonio area.
An earthquake can quickly cause structural damage to your property. Without quick repairs, you may find the condition of your property deteriorating quickly. Earthquakes can also do significant damage to your personal possessions, including many of the items insured inside your home. Furthermore, earthquakes may result in immense damage to vehicles, which you may have no way to protect.
Fires and Wildfires
While San Antonio has not experienced the same devastation from wildfires noted by states like California, the San Antonio area does have the potential for wildfires that could devastate neighborhoods. In windy conditions, wildfires could quickly grow out of control, especially in neighborhoods with heavy vegetation.
Fires can also spring up in any San Antonio home because of a mistake in the kitchen, electrical problems, or unsafe fire practices. Fires not only result in damage due to the heavy flames moving through your home or vehicle, they may cause severe water damage as firefighters act to control the blaze. Failure to address that water damage quickly can also result in mold and mildew, which can cause additional damage to the property and may even result in further health problems for people living in it.
Some areas throughout the San Antonio community suffer a high risk of flooding in heavy rains. Flood damage can send water and debris cascading through homes, resulting in immense water damage to anything not above the rising water level. Worse, even when those floodwaters recede, floods often leave behind dirt, grime, and other hazards that homeowners must deal with to recover their properties. After a flood, dealing with water damage becomes the top priority, since mold and mildew can pose immense problems throughout the house.
Floods also pose a significant challenge to vehicle owners. Often, vehicle owners cannot get their vehicles to safety, especially in the event of a flash flood. Vehicles that end up submerged by rising floodwaters may end up permanently damaged, and make the vehicle less reliable than before. Flooding can also damage the value of a vehicle, since many people do not want to purchase a vehicle with significant flood damage. Even after repairs, the vehicle may not seem trustworthy.
Tornadoes can quickly sweep through a community, leaving devastation in their wake. Tornadoes can tear off roofs, shatter windows, or even reduce a home to rubble in a matter of moments. Unfortunately, San Antonio does have a risk of suffering several tornadoes each year.
Heavy storms can cause just as much damage to your property as severe weather like tornadoes and floods in the right circumstances. High winds may send part of your roof flying away or bring branches down on your roof or flying into your windows. Heavy storms can also result in lightning damage to your home or vehicle.
Winter storms can also cause immense damage to your home. Freezing temperatures can freeze your pipes, especially if you do not take adequate precautions to protect them and prevent those hazards. Winter storms can also cause damage to the exterior of your home. If the interior temperature of your home drops too low due to power loss, it can cause damage to your pipes and electronics.
Broken pipes in your home can quickly make an immense mess. A broken pipe can send water all over your home, resulting in major damage. The longer the water sits, the more damage it may cause. Worse, water that sits for more than a short time can result in mold and mildew in your home—even if you try to clean up the mess.
Auto accidents can cause immense damage to your vehicle, which can cause a substantial financial burden. With the average cost of a new vehicle rising to $40,000, many vehicle owners have a lot invested in their new vehicles. An accident can cause staggering financial losses, especially for drivers who may not carry adequate insurance on their vehicles.
Understanding Your Insurance Coverage: What Do You Deserve After a Disaster?
To understand how much compensation you deserve for property damage following a disaster, you need to understand the insurance coverage you carry and how it can influence your right to compensation.
If you own a property, you should carry property insurance on that property. While a lender holds the mortgage on a home, you may have to carry adequate insurance to replace the building itself or take care of any damage to the property.
Landlords often carry property insurance that covers the structure alone—insurance designed to protect it if a fire or natural disaster causes extreme damage to the property. Property owners who reside in the same building, on the other hand, usually carry insurance that will protect the contents of the home as well as damage to the building itself.
Because renters do not own the property where they live, they do not need to cover the building itself. Savvy renters, however, protect their personal possessions—including furniture, electronics, and collectibles, and heirlooms. Renters' insurance typically insures the contents of a home up to a certain amount.
Renters should check with an experienced insurance agent to help make sure that the insurance policy protects specific collectibles, other important items, and the furniture and basic electronics in the house itself (since the average renters' insurance policy may not protect jewelry, artwork, and other expensive collectibles).
Auto insurance offers confusing options.
At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, we work with our clients to go over their insurance policies, discover what coverage they have, and help determine how those policies impact the compensation they deserve after an auto accident.
- Liability insurance. Liability insurance provides protection when the policyholder damages the vehicle belonging to another individual in an accident. If you have an accident due to another driver's negligence, you would turn to their liability insurance first to see compensation for the damage to your vehicle. Liability-only insurance does not provide any compensation to the covered driver, but rather compensates anyone who suffered serious property damage or injury due to that driver's negligence.
- Collision insurance. Collision insurance offers coverage for vehicles damaged in an accident due to the policyholder's negligence. Collision insurance does protect the driver of the vehicle, up to the value of the vehicle. Collision insurance, however, only offers compensation following an accident, and may not provide coverage if the vehicle suffers damage in another way.
- Comprehensive insurance. Comprehensive coverage offers financial assistance covering the damage to a vehicle regardless of how that damage occurred. For many drivers, comprehensive insurance offers the best way to ensure that their vehicle will get repaired regardless of what happens to it. Comprehensive insurance kicks in when the vehicle suffers damage through no one's fault. For instance, if a tree falls on the vehicle, the vehicle suffers serious damage during a flood, or the vehicle gets stolen, comprehensive insurance can help offer compensation.
- Uninsured coverage. Uninsured insurance coverage, which usually adds a relatively low fee to auto insurance, provides coverage following an accident with a driver who does not carry insurance. An estimated 8.3 percent of drivers in Texas do not carry auto insurance. These drivers could cause immense damage in an accident, but have no way to pay the other driver's bill. Uninsured motorist coverage offers the insured driver compensation for a vehicle damaged by a driver that does not carry adequate insurance.
- Underinsured coverage. While uninsured coverage covers the policyholder in an accident with an uninsured driver, underinsured coverage provides additional coverage when the policyholder gets in an accident with someone who does not carry adequate insurance coverage. Texas law requires drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 in liability protection. If the driver who hit you caused more damage to your vehicle than that, but only carries minimum liability insurance, you may need to use your underinsured coverage to pay for the rest of your vehicle's repairs.
How Can Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers Help?
Following serious damage to your property for any reason, you may find yourself reeling and unable to figure out your next steps. Then the other shoe drops: The insurance company will not pay out the amount you expected for the damage to your home.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers can help. We work with our clients to increase the odds that they will receive the best possible resolution regarding their claims.
Go over insurance policies and check to see what coverage our clients have.
The insurance policy will help offer the blueprint for how much compensation you could expect after a serious incident, including a natural disaster, a fire, or theft. Your policy may have specific exceptions or details concerning what coverage it will offer. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, we take a close look at that policy and go over the coverage you could expect for the damage to your home, which will help you understand what the insurance company should offer.
Help you find an independent evaluation of the damage.
Sometimes, the insurance company will send in its own team to conduct an evaluation. That team may look for a reason to reduce or deny your coverage if at all possible, especially after a natural disaster that resulted in a great deal of damage throughout San Antonio. We could help you connect with independent evaluators who can give you a better idea of what compensation you should expect for damage to your home.
Negotiate with the insurance company for you.
Dealing with the insurance company after serious property damage can add immense stress to an already difficult situation. At Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, we can often take over those negotiations on behalf of our clients, helping to secure the compensation they deserve and reducing the stress they have to deal with as they work to get their homes repaired. Often, just knowing that you have a lawyer can help convince the insurance company to offer more of the compensation you deserve. In other cases, we have helped negotiate on behalf of our clients as they pursue that vitally-needed financial assistance.
San Antonio Property Damage FAQ
Do you have questions about the coverage you should receive after serious property damage that you cannot find in the FAQ below? Contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA to learn more.
1. What should I do if my San Antonio property suffers significant damage?
Any time your property suffers significant damage, you should act to protect your investment as soon as possible.
Taking these key steps can help protect your property and increase the odds that you will get the insurance coverage you deserve.
- Step One: Take photos of the damage. Quickly take pictures of the damage to your property. While the insurance company's evaluators will come through and do their own checks, circumstances can change quickly when it comes to property damage. Taking photos of that initial damage can make it easier to prove exactly when that damage occurred and what led to it. For example, if mold and mildew develop because of water left sitting for too long because the insurance company will not release the funds you need, you may need to go back to those photos to show the severity of the initial water damage.
- Step Two: Make what temporary repairs you can. In general, you should not make full repairs to your property until you have a chance to talk to the insurance company. The insurance company may need to come out and take a look at the damage, which they cannot do if you make repairs immediately. If you make repairs as soon as the damage occurs, you may also not know how much insurance coverage you will have, which could cause you to overspend on those repairs. However, you may need to make some temporary repairs or patches that will help protect your home against further damage in the event of an emergency.
- Step Three: Notify the insurance company. As soon as possible after the disaster that damages your property, notify your insurance company. Following a major disaster, when many homes in your area have suffered substantial damage, you may have a longer wait for an adjuster to come out, take a look at the damage, and notify you about how much compensation you should expect.
- Step Four: Contact an attorney, if needed. In some cases, you may need to contact an attorney to help you deal with a property damage claim. An attorney can help go over your insurance policies, take a look at the damage to your home and who or what caused it, and give you a better idea of how much compensation you should expect through your insurance policy.
2. When do I need to contact an attorney regarding San Antonio property damage?
Sometimes, your homeowner's insurance, renter's insurance, or auto insurance may pay out quickly following damage to your property, and you may receive exactly the money you expected for your damages. However, in some cases, you may suffer a bad faith insurance case, in which the insurance company tries to avoid paying out the compensation you really deserve for the losses you faced.
You may need to contact an attorney to help you deal with a bad faith insurance claim if:
- Your home suffered substantial damage, requiring you to claim close to your policy limits.
- Your home suffered severe damage in a natural disaster that also caused immense damage to many other properties in the area.
- You do not understand your policy or the coverage you have.
- Your insurance company has offered a payout that seems far lower than you deserve for the damages to your property.
Any time you have questions about your insurance coverage and how much compensation you should expect, contacting a lawyer can help you better understand and pursue the full compensation owed by the insurance company.
3. I rent a property in San Antonio that suffered serious damage in a recent disaster. Whose insurance has to pay for that damage?
If you live in a rental property, the property owner should carry insurance to protect the structure of the home itself. You, on the other hand, should carry renters insurance that will protect the contents of the home, including your possessions. The property owner should not ask a renter for assistance with the cost of repairing that property unless the renters caused that damage through an act of negligence.
4. What tactics could property insurance companies use to reduce the compensation they have to pay?
In many cases, San Antonio property insurance companies will reduce their burden as much as possible.
- Try to claim that you deliberately damaged your property. If you suffered damage in a fire, for example, the insurance company might attempt to claim that you set the fire deliberately, which would fall under an exclusion in most insurance policies.
- Try to withhold the compensation you deserve. Sometimes, insurance companies will simply make a low, flat offer that they claim represents everything you deserve for the damages your property suffered. If you accept that offer, it may prevent you from pursuing further compensation through your insurance company for that incident. You should consult an attorney before accepting an offer for property damage, especially if you receive an offer that you feel does not reflect the full compensation you deserve.
- Try to show that your property damage fits into an exception in your policy. Many insurance policies contain exceptions and exemptions that limit the coverage those policies offer. For example, if you have a home in a flood-prone area, you may have to carry an expensive additional flood rider to protect your home in the event of a flood, even if your home has never seen flooding before. If your home suffers damage in a storm, or if you suffer any water damage, you may need to show that it does not fall under those exceptions and that you deserve coverage for those losses.
5. Does my insurance policy cover theft?
Many insurance policies, including renters insurance and homeowners insurance, do cover theft. You may have a deductible on your policy that you will need to pay yourself before the insurance coverage will kick in.
In the case of your vehicle, your insurance policy may cover theft only if you carry comprehensive insurance on your vehicle. If you do not carry comprehensive insurance, your liability or collision policy may not protect you from theft.
6. If a tree limb hits my car, breaking the windshield, will my insurance company pay to repair it?
Unfortunately, your insurance company will likely not consider damage from a tree limb to fall under collision coverage. If you carry comprehensive insurance, however, your auto insurance provider will probably pay to replace your windshield, though you may have to cover the deductible.
7. Do I have to pay the deductible to get my property repaired in San Antonio?
Often, insurance companies consider the amount of your deductible the amount you, as the property owner, must take responsibility for to receive coverage. That does not necessarily mean that you will have to pay out that exact amount. Instead, the insurance company will evaluate the damage to your property, then subtract your deductible.
The insurance company will then provide you with payment for the amount over the deductible that you deserve for the damage to your property, regardless of what you pay. However, you may struggle to effectively repair your property for less than the amount initially established.
Typically, if you suffer damage to your vehicle in an accident caused by another driver, that driver's policy will not include a deductible that you have to pay. However, you may have to cover your deductible if you need to use your underinsured motorist coverage to pay for additional damage to your vehicle, or if you need to use your uninsured motorist coverage to pay for the full cost of those damages.
8. I completed repairs on my home before the insurance company had a chance to take a look at it. Can I still seek compensation for the cost of those repairs?
You may still have the right to seek compensation through your insurance company for the damages to your home, even if you repaired those damages before the insurance company came out. However, the insurance company may claim that the damages cost less to repair than you claim, or that you did not suffer as much damage as your claim suggests. You may have a harder time acquiring the full compensation you deserve for those damages.
To increase your odds of recovering as much compensation as possible, take photos of the damage and each stage of the repairs. Then, get in touch with an attorney to learn more about your rights and get access to someone who can help fight for the compensation you deserve.
9. How long do you have to file a property damage claim in San Antonio?
In Texas, you have until the statute of limitations runs out to file a property damage claim. Usually, that means you have up to two years to file that claim. However, that does not mean that you should wait until close to that deadline to file a property damage claim. The sooner you file a property damage claim with your insurance company, the sooner the insurance adjuster can come out and look at your property, determine how much compensation you deserve, and issue that payment. Seeking out compensation early can also make it easier for you to manage repairs, since you will more likely get the compensation you deserve quickly.
10. I do not agree with the insurance company's adjuster regarding the compensation I deserve for the damage to my home. What should I do?
If you do not agree with the insurance adjuster's estimate following severe property damage, contact a San Antonio property damage attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can give you a better idea of what steps you need to take next to seek the compensation you deserve.
11. Someone else damaged my property. What should I do to get it repaired?
In some cases, you may have the right to pursue compensation from the individual that damaged your property. However, in many cases, you will need to turn to your homeowner's insurance policy to provide the compensation you need to repair damaged property. Contact an attorney to learn more about your right to compensation and how you should handle any case where someone else deliberately or negligently damaged your property, from a neighbor that failed to trim a tree branch hovering right over your roof to a teenager who deliberately broke your windows or caused other damage to your home.
12. Does my insurance policy provide coverage for living arrangements if I have to leave my home during or after a natural disaster?
Sometimes, disasters can cause such severe damage that you have to leave your home. In the case of major natural disasters, you may evacuate under specific warnings from the San Antonio government. In other cases, you may have to leave your home because it becomes unlivable after a disaster. Fire damage, for example, can make it dangerous or even impossible to remain in your home while the damage gets repaired.
Contact your insurance company to learn more about your policy and the coverage it offers. Sometimes, your policy will cover alternative living arrangements while your home gets repaired. Since that coverage may have specific time and monetary limits, make sure you read over your policy or contact an attorney to make sure you understand your coverage trying to use it to pay for a hotel or other alternative while you wait for repairs to your home.
Do You Need a Property Damage Lawyer in San Antonio, TX?
If you suffered severe property damage and need to better understand your right to compensation, or you have struggled to convince the insurance company to offer the compensation you deserve, contact Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA today at 833-552-7274 for your free consultation.
San Antonio Office
921 S St Mary's St #2
San Antonio, TX 78205
Phone: (210) 361-2039