The record-breaking deep freeze that has impacted all 254 Texas counties is finally coming to an end as the temperatures start to warm up again. Hundreds of thousands of claims from broken water pipes, downed trees, wrecked automobiles and weather induced destruction have been pouring into insurance companies. Camille Garcia, communications director for the trade group Insurance Council of Texas, stated “It is unique in so far as we have not had (an event) in years in Texas that involves claims from the entire state.” Although a precise financial estimate of the destruction isn’t available yet, insurance industry executives already anticipate the price tag for recovery could approach $19 billion in insured losses in Texas. 

As previously frozen landscapes thaw, we advise everyone to do a thorough investigation of their property to assess conditions and inspect for damages. Here are 10 helpful tips to guide home owners: 

  1. Check your roof and ceilings – look for leaks in the attic, cracked/crooked/missing shingles, nail pops, and the gutter/chimney. On the inside of your home, check your ceilings and walls for structural damage that might’ve occurred from frozen pipes being busted. 
  2. Look for damage done to flooring. 
  3. Check your heating and plumbing systems. 
  4. Check the sides of your home on the outside – look under the eaves and near gutter downspouts. Check for signs of water staining which indicate a leak from above. Also make sure to check your windows and look for broken panes. 
  5. Inspect wood outdoor structures like fencing and decks – look for warping, popped nails and loose boards.
  6. Inspect your landscaping – look at your trees and shrubbery and remove any broken or fallen branches.
  7. Document everything through photos, videos and/or written notes. 
  8. Get plumbers and contractors out as quickly as possible to get estimates. Be weary of solicitations, fraud is more common in the wake of weather disasters. 
  9. Pay out of pocket if you can and make sure to keep receipts for everything. 
  10. Contact insurance providers as soon as possible. Some insurance companies allow you to start the claims process virtually. 

Garcia states “I would never wait to make a repair of significant damage — if I have the opportunity to get that repaired, I would take it.” We agree and advise policyholders to begin to file claims and report damages as soon as they can, but not to delay essential repairs.

Read more about the financial toll this storm has had on Austin as well as insights on how to deal with property damages and insurance companies at Austin-American Statesman, or download the PDF here

PICTURE:

Bronte Wittpenn (American Statesman)