As communities across Texas begin to slowly recover from the crippling winter storm of 2021, insurance companies are bracing to shell out more than six times what they typically pay for Texas storm damage claims in an average year.
That’s because insurance companies are anticipating storm damage claims and lawsuits from renters, homeowners, and commercial property owners, as well as vehicle owners, business owners, and others.
And the onslaught has already begun. Texans have already filed more than 20,000 winter storm claims with United Services Automobile Association alone, according to reports from Bloomberg. Other insurers in Texas have also reported receiving thousands of claims while temperatures were still freezing in some parts of the state.
If you are one of the millions who have suffered losses and property damage in the recent deep freeze that gripped our state, you can learn more about the different types of claims you may be able to file below. To get answers about your claim and experienced help navigating the storm damage insurance claim process, contact Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers. We are here to help you 24/7.
2021 Texas Winter Storm: A Glance at the Devastating Grip of the Deep Freeze
Anyone who lived through the Texas winter storm knows just how rough and extraordinary it was. Painting a picture with numbers, these facts, sourced from ABC News, provide some concrete details regarding the storm’s devastating impacts. They also highlight why storm damage insurance claims will be both massive and expensive for personal and commercial losses.
- There were 8 consecutive days of below-45˚ The last time that happened in Texas was about 80 years ago in 1940.
- During the storm’s peak, about 4.3 million Texans had no power. Blackouts lasted hours to days for many.
- About 13 million were left having to boil tap water for at least 2 minutes in order to have safe access to water.
- House fires surged by 187%, as many reportedly started fires in a desperate attempt to stay warm or even survive during power outages and freezing temperatures.
These facts don’t even begin to capture the physical injuries and deaths from the storm. Still, they demonstrate the rarity and extent of the Texas winter storm of 2021, showing some of the unique aspects of the insurance claims arising from it.
In fact, although Texas insurers are used to handling storm damage claims from seasonal hurricanes, the claims from the 2021 winter storm are coming from all 254 counties in the state; that does not usually happen with hurricanes, which typically cause regional, not statewide, damage. On top of that, the average Texas winter storm claim is expected to be more expensive than the average hurricane claim.
What does this matter?
Because you may have a more challenging fight ahead of you if you have filed or will be filing a Texas storm damage claim. Under the threat of a multi-billion-dollar payout—which comes on the heels of insurers’ billion-dollar losses from COVID-19—it’s safe to expect that insurance companies will do what they do best: delay, dispute, and deny. Don’t expect them to play fair or do the right thing by you.
With that in mind, here is some important information for anyone who will be filing (or who has already filed) a Texas storm damage claim.
Texas Winter Storm Damage Claims for Homeowners
Texas homeowners’ claims are arising from all sorts of winter storm damage, including damages and losses caused by frozen pipes, ice and snow, power outages, fallen trees, water, and fires. Claims related to frozen pipes and roof damage are expected to be the most prevalent types of Texas storm damage claims filed by homeowners.
In addition to the structural damage caused by these elements, claims have also been seeking coverage for damaged personal property within homes, damage to fences on residential property, food spoilage, and the costs of staying at hotels.
It’s important to note that, while standard homeowners’ insurance policies may cover damages from ice and snow, they may not cover damage from floods or fires. Many insurers only cover that type of damage via policy add-ons.
Texas Winter Storm Damage Claims for Vehicle Owners
The deep freeze caused all sorts of damage to vehicles in Texas. Snow and ice crushed vehicle roofs and cracked windshields, either under their own weight or by knocking trees and other objects onto vehicles. The icy road conditions have also caused auto accidents, including collisions between multiple vehicles and between vehicles and road features.
For these Texas winter storm claims, questions of liability will be important for those involving car accidents between two or more vehicles. If vehicles have been damaged outside of a crash event, like by a tree branch falling on them, claims may be filed under homeowners’ policies, instead of auto insurance policies. And depending on what object caused the damage, those claims may proceed under neighbors’ or others’ policies, instead of your own.
Texas Winter Storm Damage Claims for Business Owners
Beyond the extensive damage to personal property, the Texas winter storm wreaked havoc on businesses. From small businesses to major corporations, companies across the state halted their operations without the power, water, and supplies they needed to carry on. According to ABC News, the Texas winter storm of 2021 closed at least 500 Walmart stores and 775 CVS stores across the state.
For stores that have been able to stay open or reopen, frozen supply chains have left shelves barren, and spoilage of perishables has meant massive quantities of food have been thrown out all why Texans are scrambling for necessities.
Consequently, business owners and commercial property owners filing Texas winter storm damage claims will likely be seeking payouts for commercial property damage and business interruption losses.
How to File an Insurance Claim for Storm Damage
No matter what type of Texas winter storm damage claim you will be filing, it’s always a good idea to review your policy first, before filing your insurance claim, so you understand your coverage. Here’s what else you can do and what you should know to protect your rights and claim from there:
1. Take extensive pictures and/or videos of the damage.
These are your records, so try to capture as much detail as possible. Snap photos from multiple angles. Try to include a size reference in pictures when needed (like a ruler or anything that provides a point of contrast). Take close-ups and panoramic pictures, if necessary. Your photos and videos can prove the extent of the damage, especially if you have pre-damage pictures to show the contrast.
2. Keep some damaged items if possible.
This could be a small piece of furniture, a portion of water-damaged drywall or carpeting, pieces of roofing tiles, or other damaged elements. Like your pictures and videos, these items can show your losses in a more objective light. They can also tell more of the story of how certain areas or floors in a building were damaged.
3. Be on guard with the insurance adjuster.
Don’t think of the adjuster as your friend or even someone who wants to help you. Insurance adjusters are there to do one thing—protect the insurance company. For you, that means that adjusters are looking for ways not to pay, and you shouldn’t count on them to just hand over what you may deserve for your claim.
4. Talk to a lawyer ASAP.
The storm damage insurance claim lawyers at Stewart J. Guss, Attorney at Law are ready to help you now. Our team of attorneys and legal professionals are nationally recognized leaders in the industry. We have been standing up to insurance companies on behalf of our injured clients for more than 20 years, and we have recovered millions for people just like you. We are ready to make our next victory yours!
When you reach out, we will give you honest answers and the advice you need. We’ll tell you what we think about your potential claim and, if we can help you, we will! Plus, we only work on a contingency fee basis, so you will not owe us a DIME unless we recover compensation for your Texas storm damage claim.
Stewart J. Guss, Injury Accident Lawyers
12777 Jones Rd #297
Houston, TX 77070