Power outages, burst pipes, and other consequences from the winter storm that wreaked havoc in Texas may lead to hundreds of thousands of insurance claims, according to The Dallas Morning News. The weather event, which some are calling Winter Storm Uri, is expected to become the costliest in Texas history – with some estimates exceeding the cost of Hurricane Harvey.
If you suffered property damage, had to stay in a hotel because your power failed, or accrued any other losses as a result of Winter Storm Uri, you may be able to make a claim under your homeowner's insurance or renters insurance policy. Similarly, businesses that were unable to operate or suffered physical losses can make claims under their business insurance policies.
The most common claim after the storm has been for burst pipes. State Farm told WFAA TV that the company had already received 34,300 claims as of February 23, 2021. These claims – from one storm – have already exceeded the number of nationwide claims from all of last year, in which State Farm had about 3,800 burst pipe claims total.
Homeowners' insurance companies may also be “on the hook for hotel costs and additional living expenses” for families that needed shelter while their homes were uninhabitable because of cold temperatures. Of course, depending on the terms of your policy, your homeowner's insurer will be responsible for other property damage and losses, as well. For some, policies may even cover spoiled food in the fridge and freezer.
In the same way, renters insurance can protect everything you have in your apartment – from your favorite coffee mug to your desktop computer or television set.
Business owners may face many of the same property losses as homeowners and renters, but business insurance policies cover more than just physical damage. If your commercial property was unusable during the storm, business interruption coverage may apply, along with contingent business interruption coverage and service interruption coverage.
Certain policies may also cover ingress/egress if access to your commercial property was impaired or prohibited, as well as extra expenses like food, water, and shelter for employees, overtime, cleanup and repairs, extra security, and expedited shipping.
Winter Storm Uri impacted countless businesses inside and outside of Texas, so don’t hesitate to review your business insurance policy and make a claim when appropriate.
What To Do When Filing a Claim
The first step when filing an insurance claim is to protect people and property. Make sure your family and pets are safe and protect your home from further damage. Take care of your employees and secure your business, and document your actions and expenses during this process.
Next, take a look at all your insurance policies and determine what coverage may apply. Some policies have a property damage trigger, and you may even be covered by another company’s insurance policy.
Once you identify all available coverage, get the details – including limits, deductibles, waiting periods, conditions, and more.
Remember, a good attorney can always help you with identifying coverage and interpreting your policy’s language.
Once you understand your policies and the details of your coverage, notify your insurers of pending claims via email or an online portal. Notifying the insurance company that you might have a claim will help protect you from coverages with short timelines. For example, some insurance companies require you to report burst pipes within a matter of days.
After notifying the insurance company, you can begin building your claim by carefully documenting losses and trying to mitigate the damage. Take photos, videos with your smartphone, keep track of all receipts, correspondence, etc. The more documentation of the damage the better. Keep records of what actions you take and why, use a separate account for all the costs you accrue, and keep your receipts. Don’t allow any room for your insurer to second-guess you.
Maximize Your Recovery With the Law Office of Shane McClelland
Whether you need to file a property damage claim for your home or use business interruption insurance to recover lost revenue, you should not hesitate to engage experts. If you want an advocate on your side, consider hiring an attorney like the Law Office of Shane McClelland, PLLC.
Lawyers like ours can help you estimate the financial impact of the storm, maintain control of your claim, and facilitate clear and valuable communication with your insurer. Our team puts itself in your shoes, so we can provide the best service possible.
Clarity and professionalism are especially important considering much of the claims process may occur online due to the continuing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
We are dedicated to your compensation and have more than 15 years of experience to put on your side. If you need help filing a claim or building a working relationship with your insurance company, please call us at (713) 242-1302 or send us your information online today.