Texas Department of Insurance tips and information

Gardner Selby
The Texas Department of Insurance is offering tips on filing claims and preparing for summer vacations.

My car was totaled! Now what?

Was your car declared a total loss after an accident or flood? Here are some answers to questions you might be asking.

What does ‘totaled’ mean? Your insurance company compares the value of your car and the cost to repair it. If the repair costs are about the same or more than the car’s value, it will likely consider the car totaled.

What if I think my car is worth more? If you think your car is worth more than the insurance company is offering, you can try to negotiate. Be prepared to show what a car like yours would sell for in your area:

Get quotes from used car dealers.

View prices online and look for local ads for similar vehicles.

Document special features or custom parts on your car.

Can I fix my car instead? To keep your car, let your insurer know quickly. The company will subtract the car’s salvage value from the amount it was planning to pay you. The car also may be issued a salvage title, which could make it harder to insure or sell later.

Is your house ready for your vacation?

Planning an out-of-town trip? Before heading out, take time to make your home is as safe as possible:

Set timers on interior lights. Criminals look for easy targets. Use a timer on a few lights to make it appear someone is home. Also, don’t let newspapers or mail pile up. Make sure valuables aren’t visible to someone looking through windows, and don’t leave a key outside.

Don’t post on social media. It’s wise not to post online that you’re away even if you think only friends and family can see your social media updates.

Lock doors and windows. This seems obvious, but it’s easy to overlook. Before you leave, walk around the house to make sure everything is locked.

Unplug TVs and computers. It’s Texas. So you never know when an electrical storm could cause a power surge. To protect expensive electronics, unplug them or plug them into a surge protector.

Turn off the main water supply to your home. Even a minor leak can cause major damage if no one is home to catch it.

After you marry, look for insurance savings

If you’re getting married, we can’t you help find a caterer or band.

But this insurance checklist could help you save money:

Renters insurance: The average Texas renters policy costs about $20 a month. That’s an affordable way to protect your wedding gifts. The coverage will pay to replace items damaged by a burst pipe, fire, or other cause. It also will cover personal items stolen from your home or car.

Auto policies: Combining your auto policies may save you money. Most insurance companies offer a discount if you cover more than one vehicle. Also, rates are usually lower if you’re married.

Health coverage: You have options. If both of you have coverage through work, compare policies. One may offer better benefits, a lower deductible, or a lower cost to add a dependent. Check if there’s a deadline to add a spouse.

Life insurance: Life insurance helps your spouse and family maintain their standard of living after you die. Consider how much income would need to be replaced to help with childcare, your mortgage, and other debts.

Have a question about insurance? Call the Texas Department of Insurance at 800-252-3439 or visit www.tdi.texas.gov.