How to get ready for your insurance claim: What to do if your home is storm-damaged

Growing up in southwest Houston, Mike Canahuati knows the area’s destructive weather well. Actually, better than most.


For 11 years, he’s owned his own insurance agency, and for seven years, he’s operated that business in Bellaire and made his home here with his family.

He’s providing the following information “to help my city begin the long road to recovery.” 

By Mike Canahuati

If your primary residence has been damaged by Harvey…

STEP 1 – If you have flood insurance, contact your agent or flood insurance provider and file your claim immediately.

STEP 2A – Contact a restoration and remediation company and get on their list. You can Google search companies.
Ask the restoration company how quickly they’ll be able to get to you and seek advice on whether you should take steps towards limiting additional damage or mold.

STEP 2B – Separate damaged from undamaged property. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage to your home and possessions to prepare your repair estimate.
Take photographs and make an itemized list of ALL damaged property, including discarded objects, structural damage, and standing floodwater levels. Do NOT put your contents into a pile so that they cannot be individually viewed. You must document each item separately. Do not DISCARD any item until the adjuster has viewed, documented and verified the flood damage to each item unless officials require the disposal of the damaged items — in which case you may place those items outside of your home.

The itemized list should include to the best of your ability, the date of purchase, estimated value, and receipts, if possible. The best practice would include all of the following information: A description of the item; the make, model and serial number; the age of the item; the estimated replacement cost of the item; the regular location of the item in your home.

STEP 3 – Start searching for a general contractor and check references and reputability. While it is your choice, it is my personal recommendation that you use a reputable local company or contractor if at all possible.

STEP 4 – If you suffered damage to your car or other recreational vehicle(s) and you carry comprehensive insurance on them, don’t forget to notify your insurer and file a separate claim or claims on these items.

If you are a renter or homeowner you may qualify for assistance through FEMA. By law, FEMA assistance cannot duplicate the assistance you receive from your insurance company, but you may receive assistance for items not covered by insurance. If your home was impacted by a major disaster FEMA recommends you apply for assistance.
To apply for assistance visit:
When you register for disaster assistance either online or by phone, you will need the following to complete your application.
Social Security number
Address of the location where the damage occurred (pre-disaster address)
Current mailing address
Current telephone number
Insurance information
Total household annual income
Routing and account number for your checking or savings account (this allows FEMA to directly transfer disaster assistance funds into your bank account).
A description of your disaster-caused damage and losses

Business: FEMA does not offer assistance for small businesses. but they do partner with the Small Business Administration (SBA), which offers low interest loans for business damages.

Secondary Home: FEMA does not offer assistance for your secondary home.

Other Needs Assistance: FEMA offers disaster assistance for some of your other disaster-caused expenses including, medical and dental, child care, funeral and burial, essential household items, moving and storage, vehicle, and some clean-up items.

For additional information you can visit: