Snowmaggedon 2021 belted Texas in February and produced possibly the largest number of insurance claims in the state’s history. Insured losses from the storm for property and casualty insurers are expected to total in the billions of dollars. But getting your insurance company to approve your claim isn’t always easy. Brad says, “Insurance companies are in the business or making money NOT paying money. If they can minimize or deny on some hyper-technical reason, it benefits them to do so.”
Another issue is that many people aren’t familiar with what is covered under their homeowner’s insurance. “Texas has allowed insurance companies to move away from certain standards. All policies are different. In a typical homeowner policy, there is a provision that applies to coverage if there is an unexpected discharge of water as opposed to a slow drip over weeks and months. But it’s important to read your policy closely to ensure you are getting what you deserve,” Brad says.
In many cases insurers have denied recent claims for burst pipes and water damage if the heat was intentionally shut off in the home for a period of time during the winter storm. They can also deny coverage if the policy holder failed to adequately safeguard water pipes from freezing.
There are things that many homeowners don’t realize are covered under their insurance policies. For instance, some homeowner insurance policies will cover hotel bills and other additional living expenses (known as ALE) when a disaster that’s covered by the policy essentially kicks you out of your home. ALE coverage will also reimburse you for other extra expenses you have to pay for because you can’t live at home, such as restaurant meals, emergency clothing and other unexpected costs. Homeowners may also be surprised to learn their insurance policies might cover the cost to replace perishable food items that were spoiled because of lengthy power outages. Receipts must be submitted for all your extra expenses in order to get reimbursed.
Because fraud is prevalent following any natural disaster, the Texas Department of Insurance advises getting multiple bids from contractors and comparing them with the adjuster’s report before settling a claim. Choose a contractor through references and don’t hand over the insurance check to the contractor but instead pay the contractor in increments as the work is completed.
Tips for Filing a Successful Claims
No matter what kind of insurance claim you need to file, here are tips from the Texas Department of Insurance.
Review your policy
Figure out what’s covered, what’s not covered and what the deductibles are.
Document the damage
Take photos and videos of damage caused by the winter disaster.
Hang on to receipts for any temporary repairs, which may be covered by your policy.
However, don’t make any permanent repairs until an insurance adjuster has evaluated your damage, as that could jeopardize payment of a claim.
Keep track of all of your communication with the insurance company
This should include the date, name and title of each person you speak with and what was discussed.
If an insurance claim adjuster is scheduled to visit, plan to be home at the time so you can point out all of the damage.
Obtain repair bids from several contractors and compare them with the insurance adjuster’s report before settling your claim.
Save proof that you paid the deductible on your claim.
A state law in Texas prohibits contractors and roofers from promising to waive a deductible or provide a deductible rebate. The law lets insurance companies request proof, such a receipt or canceled check, that you paid for repairs in the amount of your deductible.
Stand up for yourself.
Politely assert your right to the full protection you paid for. Be prepared to negotiate for a fair settlement of your claim.
Some insurers will go above and beyond to ensure your claim is paid promptly and adequately, while others may vigorously fight a claim.
Don’t let the insurance companies take advantage of you during an already vulnerable time. Download our brochure, a How-To Guide on Filing Your Insurance Claim, for more details on the steps you should take. If you have any questions or concerns, or are unsure what to do next, give our office a call at 817-440-3888 and we would be happy to walk you through the process. We are dedicated to helping you during this tough time.
At Parker Law Firm, our experienced personal injury lawyers believe people matter. We are committed to our clients, not case numbers, and we believe in the power of the civil justice system. With years spent both representing accident victims and participating in the state legislative process, our founder, Brad Parker, has developed a deep understanding of the law and gained unique experience that helps him get results for his clients.