Home, business owners urged to contact insurance reps


By Christopher De Los Santos

 

With mounting damage from the recent winter weather, insurance industry representatives advise owners of homes or businesses to contact their insurance company or agent to file a claim as soon as possible.


Camille Garcia, public affairs director at the trade group Insurance Council of Texas said, “The claims we’re seeing at homes and businesses are burst pipes — not roof or siding damage. As water begins to thaw, we’ll start seeing more water damage losses.


Pipes that expanded because of the freeze might have some small cracks, she said, and once water begins to flow again, “that’s when water losses may begin.”


Erin Dufner, chief marketing officer for the regional Better Business Bureau in Austin, also cautioned that it could be a red flag if an insurance adjuster, contractor or repair person is unwilling to explain the issues or answer questions.


Ms. Garcia noted the arctic storm was a statewide event, and she expected to see a long recovery period.


Roof and siding damage claims typically follow wind and hail events, she said, not ice/snow storms. 


“Right now,” Ms. Garcia continued, “start taking photos/video and document your home’s condition.” A written list may also be helpful to facilitate informed conversations with insurance adjusters. 


Ben Gonzalez, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Insurance recommended protecting homes and businesses from further damage. He provided a list of actions:

• Turn off the water supply. 

• Cover broken windows and holes in the roof if possible.

• Save receipts for any materials purchased to protect from further damage. Insurance may cover these costs.


The insurance representatives agreed that an owner should be present when the insurance adjuster inspects the damage.


“If you can’t stay in your home, or you have to be somewhere else, leave a note with information on where you can be reached,” Mr. Gonzalez said.


Ms. Dufner advised owners to get at least three bids for repairs and to “get all quotes and scope of work in writing.”


The BBB recommends doing as much research as practical on remediation contractors and repair people, including a check of licensing and the company’s reputation on bbb.org.


Ms. Garcia said patience, perseverance and ongoing communication are keys to resilience.