Damaging ice and snow. Power grid failures and power outages. Burst pipes. Little to no running water. It has been a hard reality for so many as Winter Storm Uri battered its way across the southern U.S. states over President’s Day weekend. Texas weathered the most damage, with millions fighting the bitter cold without electricity, heat and water. From hypothermia, house fires, drownings, carbon monoxide poisonings and car crashes, at least 58 people have died, and that number is expected to climb. The extent of the damages led President Biden to sign a major disaster declaration and the scope of the disaster is set to break records in insured losses, even surpassing multi-billion dollar Hurricane Harvey damages. Although the severity of the storm has passed, the impacts are overwhelming.
As the ice and snow melt, waves of claims for property damages are being filed. Another hard reality will be the hundreds of thousands of property owners that will be turned down for coverages. The unexpected storm ends up highlighting substantial variations in policy terms for damages that many policyholders expected to be covered. The old saying, “The Devil is in the Details” could really apply in this instance, as insurance policy languages construe winter storm coverages and ultimately exclude or deny them. Understanding your policy and what is covered could prove to be rather complex and confusing. It’s often a good idea to contact a claims attorney to help understand coverages, accurately measure the damages, and negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf.
Tips for Filing a Winter Storm Damage Claim
File Quickly – Some insurance companies limit the amount of time you have to file a claim. (24 – 48 hours is common)
Document Everything – Immediately take photos or video of your damages (interior and exterior), keep a log or record of all correspondence, inventory damaged property and possessions, and save all receipts and quotes for repairs. Make sure to get everything in writing or email from the insurance company and claims adjuster, as well.
Review your Policy – Understand what your insurance covers and what is excluded, as well as what to expect from the claims process. Having knowledge of your policy can help you better prepare for your specific situation.
Obtain Quotes – Contact trusted contractors and professionals to inspect your damages and write bids for the repairs.
When to Contact an Insurance Claims Attorney
Often many property owners find they have little trouble filing an insurance claim for their winter storm damages. Other times - usually when the stakes are much higher – there is a greater chance for dispute. You should consider contacting an attorney for help when:
You have questions regarding your policy coverages
The insurance adjuster’s estimate is lower than expected
Damages are extensive and claims are more complex
Claims are delayed or denied