A Devastated Texas and Property Insurance Issues [Video]
NORTHBROOK, Ill.—February 23, 2021—After a week of unprecedented winter weather across much of the country, Texas has found itself in a state of emergency due to massive power outages and crippled infrastructure that was unprepared for the frigid temperatures. Frozen pipes, flooded homes and businesses, and lack of resources are rampant, and insurance companies and contractors are facing critical issues. In this edition of Straight Talk! with Jeff Cross, Peter Crosa, an independent insurance adjuster, discusses the winter storm disaster, providing commentary and guidance for restoration professionals, homeowners, and Texas property insurance policy holders.
As the recovery process begins in Texas, many frustrated homeowners are struggling to get a response from their insurance companies. Crosa points out this is something to consider when shopping for property insurance policies. There can be a wide range of rates for the same policy, but the cheaper insurance companies are able to offer the policy for less because they also have less staff—meaning that in a crisis, their adjusters will be overloaded and unable to get to every claim quickly. Crosa also notes that although the language of most insurance policies is the same, customers can have vastly different claims experiences. “The difference is the insurance company’s philosophy on how to service that language in the policy, and therein lies the difference between paying x-amount for premium or half of that amount for premium,” Crosa says. “You get what you pay for.” A more expensive policy will cost more up front, but will likely provide better service and a faster, smoother claims process when disaster strikes.
However, Crosa also points out that the Texas disaster is unprecedented and even the best companies may not be able to get to their clients quickly due to hazardous conditions. “You’re on your own for the time being,” Crosa acknowledges, “and let me tell you what the policy requires of you. You’ve got to mitigate your own damage.” Crosa explains that homeowners are required by their policies to mitigate and prevent as much additional damage as possible while they wait for their adjuster. This means you may need to buy supplies or hire someone to make a temporary repair, paying out of pocket to prevent further damage. These costs may be reimbursable through your policy, so be sure to save receipts, take photos, and document the mitigation steps you took.
Crosa says most Texas property insurance policies should cover damage resulting from burst pipes, including contents and belongings that were damaged. He recommends that homeowners make an inventory of everything that was damaged, including how old the item was and the cost to replace it. It is also possible that adjusters will handle claims virtually or via phone, so photographs and thorough documentation can streamline the process and ensure nothing is missed.
When asked what he would do in this situation as a homeowner, Crosa said that if he could afford it, he would hire his own contractor to get the work completed as soon as possible and then work with his insurance company on reimbursement. He also notes that reimbursement may be easier if you hire a large, well-known contractor that often works with insurance companies. “Document, document, document. If you can afford it, incur the expense because they’re going to have a hard time denying your claim under these legitimate circumstances.”
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