Katy Magazine News - Katy, TX
August 29, 2017 - Katrina Katsarelis
Important financial strategies that you must be aware of now.
1. Contact creditors you may have trouble paying
Let your creditors know you are in the midst Hurricane Harvey and ask if they will let you delay/postpone any upcoming payments. Sometimes they will delay the payment for up to 3 months and other times they will move it to the back end of the loan for you.
2. Document everything with photos and video
Take photos of all your flood damage now before the water dissipates. You will need these photos for insurance and FEMA claims.
3. Initiate an insurance claim immediately
Your policies may deny you, but even if they do, this is a necessary formality. FEMA will ask if you have filed or attempted all claims with your insurance providers. Make sure you get claim numbers from your insurance providers by September 1. Why? Starting Sept. 1, House Bill 1774 becomes law in Texas and it was designed to limit lawsuit abuse. The new law limits homeowners rights to litigate issues. Filing before September 1, keeps you under the current law and maintains your right to litigate against unfair payouts, etc.
4. Contact FEMA
Both homeowners and renters are eligible for aid through FEMA. You can apply online for federal disaster assistance or call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362). You can also apply via smartphone or tablet: Go to m.fema.gov or download the FEMA app. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible for temporary housing, emergency home repairs, or other urgent measures. You'll need to provide the Social Security number from at least one member of your household, and have an estimate of your family's gross household income at the time of the disaster.
5. Avoid door to door or opportunistic contractors
After hurricanes and floods, areas will get hit with all kinds of traveling, questionable contractors offering to fix your home. Here are a few tips to help you NOT get scammed:
Beware of anyone coming door to door soliciting work. Chances are these are opportunists looking to take advantage of needy flood victims. Warn your elderly neighbors and shut ins of these scams.
Get three detailed quotes for your projects (in writing only) and be very wary of low ball offers. (Low ball offers could be too good to be true or they may add on costs later by not detailing them in the estimate). The written estimate should include price, scope of work to be done, who will do the work, and the deadline for completion. Verify your contractor on web and social media by searching by name, by company, for reviews, and checking websites like the BBB. Ask for references of other Katy customers they've done work for.
Take before and after photos of the areas to be worked on. You should also take photos of your contractor's vehicles and workers. Do not pay in full or half upfront. A reputable contractor will not require a down payment over 10 to 25 percent of the total. Ask for the contractor's proof of insurance and licensing status and verify it. Pay by credit card if possible to help you be able to dispute the charge later if the work doesn't get done or slips the timeline.
We're in this with you Katy, Texas! Stay strong!
Thank you to Helen Maldonado of Katy for suggesting this story idea!
If you have other flood financial tips, add them to the comments below!