How Do I Make a Texas Auto Insurance Claim for Tornado Damage?

Texas tornado warning sign
In order for tornado-related vehicle damage to be covered, the insured must have carried comprehensive coverage at the time of the loss. Motorists who do have this included in a policy and have had their vehicles damaged in the recent severe weather storms in the Dallas-Fort Worth area should contact their insurer as soon as possible to file an auto insurance claim. Company contact information should be located on the car policy documents and identification cards, or proof of coverage. Consumers should document and log the conversations they have with their insurers and representatives. Once the loss has been claimed, the insurer should be in contact throughout the process, but, given the circumstances made by the recent storm, it may take longer than usual for carriers to settle for the loss.

As of midnight on April 5, 2012, one of the largest car insurers in the nation reported that it had received over 6,500 Texas auto insurance claims with nearly 1,000 of those damaged cars now inoperable. This is just one carrier, and more losses are expected. Unfortunately, a high number of claimants can mean a delay in claim processing. But policyholders can help get the matter resolved as quickly and easily as possible. Since claim-processing centers are expected to be very busy, car owners can assist in avoiding delays by having all their information readily available.

The Claims Process

The first thing a claimant must do is locate and contact his or her carrier to file a claim. A toll-free number can be found on numerous auto policy documents provided by the insurer. If policyholders cannot find a contact number, they can call or visit the website of the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI), which has this information on file and also lists it online. If a car is still operable, policyholders can drive to the nearest mobile claim center if their company offers this service.

Once a claim is received, the insurance provider has 15 days to contact the customer to notify them that an investigation has begun on the claim. At that time, the insurer may need additional details, and, once the carrier receives the info, it will have another 15 days to accept the claim, reject it, or give the policyholder a reason that more time is needed for processing. In the event that the Commissioner of Insurance declares the event as catastrophic, the deadlines for companies handling claims is extended for 15 days.
Car crushed by a tree
Once a settlement has been reached, the carrier will have five days to issue and mail payment. It may take longer, and the 15-day extension may apply. If these deadlines are not met, the claimant should contact their agent or company. Texans can get assistance from the TDI, but this should only be done as a last resort.