Texas Winter Storm Brings Avalanche of Insurance Claims – Here’s What You Need to Know as a CAT Adjuster
The extreme cold weather crisis in Texas has resulted in a catastrophe on par with Super Storm Sandy, surpassing Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Katrina – where the entire state is affected rather than a single city. People literally froze to death in their own homes due to the extreme cold and lack of heat, and died of carbon monoxide poisoning trying to stay warm. Just look at how this guy in Dallas tried to heat his home with his car! I have to wonder what the damage and loss is in his house.
The photos have been shocking: Fish tanks frozen all the way through, toilets overflowing with ice, ceiling fans encased in icicles from burst water pipes above. And now that the weather has warmed above freezing, already-burst pipes have thawed and flooded homes across the state. Plumbers from all over the country are headed to Texas to help repair the extensive damage. And the insurance industry expects a record $18B in losses as a result of this this winter storm event.
What You Need to Know as a CAT Adjuster
As a catastrophic insurance adjuster, what’s the right way to evaluate a homeowner’s insurance claim for burst water pipes? What should you look for? What’s covered, what’s not, and why? Here’s what you need to know:
- Is damage caused by burst water pipes following this Texas freeze typically going to be covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy? The short answer is most likely yes, but the exact wording of the homeowners policy has the final determination. Even though a homeowner is calling because their home is flooded with water from burst pipes, homeowners insurance generally covers damage due to broken pipes if their collapse is sudden and unforeseen. By contrast, if you live in a northern climate and your broken pipe is a result of freezing due to a lack of heat in the home, an insurance company could cite your negligence and deny your claim. However, because the broken pipes in Texas happened suddenly and by accident and shouldn't have been easily preventable, the homeowner’s claim should be covered.
- What’s likely to be covered? After a pipe bursts, homeowners insurance covers damage occurring to the carpet or rugs, the floor, drywall, paint, and so on; anything that got wet and damaged. Any service needed to clean up the water, dry out the home, and possibly prevent mold would also be included in this coverage. Furthermore, the cost of repairing the busted pipe—the cause of the problem—may be covered, too. Of course, every homeowner’s policy is different, and the homeowner would have to call their agent to see exactly how their coverage works.
- As an insurance adjuster, what should you look for to make sure the homeowner gets paid everything they are owed? Many homeowners in Texas are facing a daunting recovery from this deep freeze, and it’s our job to make sure they get everything they are entitled to so they can bounce back as quickly as possible. You are the middle-man between the homeowner and insurance carrier. Finding everything that the insured is entitled to per their policy is what is fair to the homeowner and also fair to the carrier; No More, No Less.
The Bottom Line
As a catastrophic insurance adjuster, it's important to review the exact wording of the homeowner’s policy to make sure the homeowner gets everything they are entitled to. Because suffering through an historic deep freeze is bad enough without getting frozen out by the insurance company.
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