fbpx

Texans were thrown for a loop a few weeks ago when Winter Storm Uri blew through the state leaving many in dire situations. With power outages, frozen pipes, lack of clean water, it was a frightening time for many Texans. The storm may be over, but we still must pick up the pieces of the damage left behind. But you do not have to do it alone. If you find yourself in need of aid after the storm, keep reading to find resources that can provide relief as soon as possible. 

 

Financial Assistance

  • If you sustained damage from snow and ice during Winter Storm Uri and you have insurance, contact your insurance company first and then FEMA. 
  • If you are uninsured, apply for FEMA assistance. FEMA will not be able to reimburse you for food lost due to power failure, however, if you call 211, you can find out what community resources you have available. 

 

Insurance Claims 

  • Filing a claim 
    1. Inspect the damage to your property – document, document, document!
      •  Make sure you take photos/videos of the loss or damage.  
    2. Contact your insurance company as soon as possible.
    3. Your company will assign an adjuster to investigate the damage. 
    4. Find a contractor as soon as you can and get estimates. 
    5. You want to be sure that you keep all your receipts.
  • Inspection Tips 
    1. Be available – many people are filing claims right now, so you might have to be patient for an inspection appointment. 
    2. Review the damage WITH your adjuster. Ask questions and be sure to show them all the damages.
    3. Provide all documentation to adjuster and report additional damage immediately.
    4. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING!
      • Make sure to take notes and keep your own record of damage estimates, receipts, etc. 
  • Estimates and Payments 
    1. You want to make sure you get a copy of estimates from your insurance company AND contractor. 
    2. The insurance company will then issue you a payment, however you will only be responsible for the deductible. 
    3. You also want to make sure you keep your mortgage company up to date on what is going on. It is possible that they may need to sign off on the check from your insurance company. 
    4. Make sure to ask your adjuster for any clarification you may need for the estimate, payment, deduction, and any possible depreciation. 
  • Contractor Tips 
    1. It might be worth getting a few contractors’ estimates for the repairs, the sooner the better. 
    2. If the contractor’s estimates are higher than what your insurance company estimates, call your insurance company. 
  • Problems with your claim? 
    1. You are required to notify your insurance company of any disputes – make sure you keep a record of this. 
    2. Contact your adjuster or insurance company
    3. Contact OPIC 
      • OPIC is the Office of Public Insurance Counsel. They are an independent agency established by the Texas legislature. 
    4. You can also file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance 
    5. If applicable, you can contact an attorney 
  • Additional Resources
    1. Texas Department of Insurance 
    2. OPIC

 

FEMA Assistance 

  • The deadline to apply for FEMA assistance for recovery for Winter Storm Uri is April 20, 2021. 
  • If you need immediate assistance, Critical Needs Assistance from FEMA can be up to $500. 
  • Before you apply for FEMA assistance, be sure to:
    • Take photos of your damaged home and belongings – make a list of all damaged items.
    • If you have insurance, first file a claim with your insurance company, then apply for FEMA 
      • FEMA can help you with needs that are not covered by your insurance or give you money while you wait for the insurance money, however, you will need to reimburse FEMA after receiving your insurance money. 
      • FEMA will not cover your deductible. 
  • Ways you can apply 
  • Who can apply? 
    • US citizens
    • Non-citizen nationals 
    • Qualified aliens may be eligible 
  • Once you apply for FEMA, there will be an inspector visit – as of now, all inspector visits will be conducted virtually. 
  • Financial Assistance from FEMA comes from Total Housing Assistance (HA) and Total Other Needs Assistance (ONA). As of now, the max benefit for a single-family is $34,000. However, this amount could change in the future. 
  • Other ways FEMA can help: 
    • Provide assistance with temporary housing,
    • Provide rent assistance,
    • Repair your home,
      • FEMA can provide homeowners with a limited amount of help to make their residence safe, sanitary, and functional. 
      • Homeowners who have the means to take out a loan, can also get a government-backed loan to fully repair their home. 
    • Replace personal belongings, and
    • Assist with other expenses caused by a disaster.
  • Additional Resources

 

Renter, Homeowner, and Small Business Loans

  • SBA disaster loans are available for small businesses, nonprofits, homeowners, and renters experiencing financial hardship due to a disaster.
    • For SBA loans, applicants DO NOT have to wait for their insurance claims to fully settle before applying. 
    • You can apply for Physical Disaster Loans, Home and Personal Property Loans, and Economic Injury Disaster loans. 
  • For personal property, renters and homeowners may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars, or appliances damaged or destroyed in the disaster. 
  • For homeowners, you may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace your primary residence to its pre-disaster condition. 
  • Because deadlines vary depending on the type of loan, apply IMMEDIATELY. You don’t need to wait to hear back on claims submitted to your insurance company before applying. 
  • Resources 

 

2020 Tax Return Deadline Extended 

  • Due to Winter Storm Uri being declared as a disaster, the IRS is allowing an extension for filing 2020 Tax Returns until June 15th, 2021 for the entire state of Texas. This deadline applies to: 
    • 2020 business returns due on March 15th 
    • 2020 individual and business returns normally due on April 15th 
    • The fourth quarter estimated tax payment due on April 15th 
    • The quarterly payroll and excise tax returns normally due on April 30th 2021, and 
    • Tax-exempt organizations, operating on a calendar-year basis, that have a 2020 return due on May 17th, 2021
    • In addition, penalties on payroll and excise tax deposits due on or after February 11, 2021, and before February 26, 2021, will be abated if the tax deposits were made by February 26, 2021
  • You will also have until June 15th to make 2020 IRA contributions. 
  • Casualty Losses 
    • Texas is a federally declared disaster area which means you can claim disaster-related casualty losses on your tax return for either this year (2021) or the prior year (2020). 
    • Individuals may deduct personal property losses that are NOT covered by insurance OR other reimbursements.
  • If you do not live in Texas, but were affected by this storm, you can check the current list of eligible localities.
  • Resources 

 

Other Resources

  • For our Austin clients: 
    • Austin City Council approved $10 million in emergency bill relief, effective immediately, for customers experiencing financial difficulty because of Winter Storm Uri and COVID-19.
      • There will be reductions to residential water rates, effective until April 26th, to help mitigate high bills due to above normal water usage. 
      • You will be able to apply a one-time $10 credit on electricity bills issued after March 19th
      • Late fees will temporarily be suspended beginning February 12th for all residential customers. 
    • Check out austintexas.gov to find out more. 

 

Give us a call, we are here to help.

Up Next

A Note to Our Clients Regarding COVID-19

Read More »

Charitable Giving in 2021

Read More »

Sign Up for Our Newsletter