SAN ANTONIO - There's been a lot of confusion from those impacted by Hurricane Harvey about what to do next. USAA says they've already received 15,000 claims and the National Flood Insurance Program says 35,000 people have filed Harvey-related claims.
Some lawmakers are urging their constituents to file their claims by Friday because of a new law that is set to go into effect September 1. The law would lower the penalty that insurers have to pay if they don't process insurance claims quickly. Governor Abbott and the Texas Department of Insurance say that this will not impact people who have flood damage or people who seek FEMA assistance.
Insurance agencies recommend filing claims about property damage as soon as you can.
"Report a claim just so we can get you into the queue and we can assist you as fast as possible," said Rebecca Hirsch with USAA.
Homeowners insurance does not include flood damage. People must purchase separate flood policies through the national flood insurance program that falls under FEMA. On Wednesday, FEMA announced it will also provide expedited assistance that could give people with flood policies up to $10,000 fairly quickly.
"We are registering people as we speak in the shelters. We have FEMA people in the shelters and talking to people one on one saying, 'Here's what's available to you,'" said Jann Tracey with FEMA.
Some studies show that only 15 percent of homes in Harris County had flood insurance. If you don't have any insurance and live in one of the 18 disaster-declared counties, you can apply for individual assistance from FEMA.
"We have assistance for homeowners whose homes were damaged. We have assistance for renters, you don't have to be a homeowner. The maximum grant is $33,00 for housing and what we refer to as 'other needs.' Other needs could include clothing, appliances, furniture, your vehicle," she explained.
Experts say that when you're ready to begin the recovery process and it's safe, take pictures of damaged and destroyed items before having them removed or repaired. Also, work with your insurance company or the Better Business Bureau to find reputable contractors before attempting to fix anything.
FEMA also says that for those who lost everything, FEMA can use the individual assistance money to help you find temporary housing at good rates.
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