Texas has recently experienced winter weather not seen in ages. Temperatures fell to minus 2 degrees in some of the hardest-hit areas. Power suppliers never prepared to withstand these conditions. Power outages across the state left almost all Texans to struggle with the cold. The combination of freezing weather and power outages caused plumbing to burst and damage homes, businesses, schools, and churches.
Texans are strong and will recover but it will take time. The scale of property damage from this winter event has never been seen before and insurers are struggling to meet the volume of insurance claims coming in. The que is long and insureds are having to wait weeks for their insurance company’s first inspection.
If you are a property owner, home or business, your insurance policy specifies your responsibilities when you have a claim, notify the insurance company of your claim and mitigate the damage. TAKE PICTURES, SHOOT VIDEO, KEEP RECEIPTS. Try to capture the entire state of damage, you can never have too many pictures. With a backlog of claims, many Texans have had to start moving wet carpets and sheetrock out before their insurers first visit. Ask your carrier if there are any specific requests they have to document the damage during remediation.
All insureds’ policies are unique but are derived from the same general forms approved by the Texas Department of Insurance. Each carrier has their own name for each of the forms and variations of the same. Most of these are “all risk” or “named peril.” If you don’t have an “all risk” policy, your agent would have discussed other options which may include the accidental discharge of water or the option to add accidental discharge of water to your policy. Read this section and be familiar with the terms; make sure the adjustment of your claim complies with those terms. Make certain to document everything. Here are some good guidelines to plan for filing your insurance claim:
- Start a journal documenting your insurance claim that includes dates, conversations, names, and contact information related to your insurance claim
- Collect receipts showing payment for damaged property.
- Collect evidence of loss and store it in a safe place.
- Take pictures and videos of the property damage.
- Get your insurance claim submitted on time.
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SHOULD I HIRE AN INSURANCE ATTORNEY?
If you think your insurance policy covers your loss and your insurer doesn’t, or if you feel the damage you sustained is far more than what your insurance company compensates you for, or if your carrier neglected your claim altogether, then the Texas Insurance Code allows recovery of “actual damages, plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s fees” and if the insurer acted in bad faith you may pursue an award of up to “three times the number of actual damages.”
If you’re unsure of whether or not your situation warrants filing a claim against your homeowners insurance company, contact us. Free consultation. No recovery equals no fee.