NBC 5 Responds

NBC 5 Responds: Managing Insurance Claims as Disaster Damages Mount

NBCUniversal, Inc.

As many of you are getting power back, you’re now facing the next crisis: mitigating the damage to your homes. Here’s what you could expect.

Plumbing Damage Will Become More Apparent As Temperatures Rise

“Those pipes that were solid ice are now thawing out just enough so that water pressure can push that ice plug out and they burst,” explained David Butler – a master plumber with Milestone. “Now we're seeing the leaks come out of those splits in the pipes.”

Butler says crews are making house calls from early in the morning until late into the night – prioritizing those with water damage and flooding. Even with long days and plans to work Saturday and Sunday, Butler says Milestone is booked for a week.

“If your pipes burst and you're flooding, we're going out there and taking care of those. That's where our priorities are right now, just to try and help everyone we can get water so they've got a place to use the restroom and drink water,” said Butler.

“It's likely most every plumbing company out there is going to be that way. We don't have enough plumbers in the whole metroplex to cover the catastrophe we've had here,” explained Butler.

If your pipes burst, you can find information about steps to take here.

Managing Insurance Claims: What’s Covered?

“We don't have absolute damage estimates yet. We do know that from a claims standpoint, this is going to be one of the most significant claims events that we have seen here in the state of Texas,” said Camille Garcia with the Insurance Council of Texas.

Garcia says read your policy to confirm your coverage.

Generally, water damage related to broken pipes would be covered.

Actual repairs to pipes and the cost of plumbing services are sometimes excluded. Garcia says policies may extend coverage to pay for pipe repairs since the loss was caused by a freeze and not wear and tear.

Damage to pools and pool equipment is typically not included in most standard home insurance policies.

Take a close look at your policy and talk to your insurance company or agent to be sure you understand what your policy will cover.

“It's going to take a lot of communication, a lot of perseverance and a lot of patience,” said Garcia.

She said contractors, plumbers and those working on repairs will be in short supply for several weeks.

Garcia said take photos and videos of your home even if damage isn’t yet apparent. If you become aware of damage, follow up with more photos and videos.

“The more you document, the more that you're able to provide your agent or your adjuster with either photos or written documentation, the easier the process will be in the future. And, start thinking about it from a contractor perspective. Start thinking about that individual that you do want to hire,” said Garcia.

Chris Pilcic with State Farm said if your plumber cuts out a section of destroyed pipe, hang onto it.

“The insurance company may want to see the pipe that has burst. While it may be good to document that in a picture, of course, if they do come to your home or handle the claim virtually, it could help to have that in evidence as well,” said Pilcic.

Get detailed, written estimates and save any receipts.

Managing the Plumber Shortage

Wednesday, Governor Greg Abbott said provisional licenses would be available for out-of-state plumbers willing to respond in Texas. Abbott also said he would issue a waiver to bring on plumbers with expired licenses.

Butler says call your plumber and get on a waiting list. If you call a few plumbers and one is able to help you, Butler says it’s important to call the others back.

“Please call that company and let them know you don't need them anymore so that they can go on to help someone else,” said Butler. “I know we've already gone to calls where they already had another plumber out. We wasted that time going out there when we could have been helping someone else. We all have to pull together and think about everyone and help each other.”

Crisis Hits When Many Can Least Afford Repairs, Deductibles

Before the power and winter storm crisis hit, many Texans were already scraping by after losing income during the pandemic.

NBC 5 Responds asked FEMA is Texans would be eligible for individual assistance. A Region 6 spokesperson explained that would take a Major Disaster Declaration and the state is likely gathering the damage assessments necessary to escalate the current declaration.

If you have damage, contact your insurance company to file a claim. The claims data informs the next steps in the federal disaster process.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our Customer Complaint form.

Contact Us