When the power went out last February, so did the water for many North Texans. Frozen pipes split open, flooding homes and businesses.
NBC 5 Responds saw different outcomes from insurance providers, depending on factors like the policy, endorsements, even the adjuster who showed up to handle the claim.
TAKE PHOTOS, VIDEO AND SAVE PHYSICAL EVIDENCE
“Sometimes insurance companies play games where they claim that your damage from the storm was, quote ‘preexisting damage,’” said Ware Wendell, executive director of the nonprofit consumer advocacy group Texas Watch.
Wendell said if you expect to file an insurance claim, save evidence of the damage.
“Tell the plumber you want to keep that piece of pipe because you want to be able to show the insurance company adjuster when they come out: this pipe froze and it burst. This wasn't a slow leak over time,” Wendell explained.
CREATE AND MAINTAIN YOUR HOME INVENTORY
Before you ever have to file a claim, create a home inventory and update it regularly.
“We all have cell phones these days that take really good pictures. It can be as simple as just walking your property, taking a bunch of pictures of your home or your apartment and the belongings inside of it,” Wendell said.
This does a couple of things: it documents the condition of your home before a disaster and helps you inventory what you had inside.
Watch this story to learn how to get started.
CREATE A PAPER TRAIL
During the claims process, document all communication with your insurance company.
If you talk by phone, follow up with an email highlighting what was discussed.
“You want to show them that you have provided the information that they need to adjust and pay the claim. If they won't do that, you can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance,” said Wendell.
If you’re stuck, hiring an attorney or a public adjuster is an option. Public adjusters are licensed in Texas to work through claims with policyholders in exchange for up to 10% of the final insurance settlement.
“We're finding that any number of folks right now are still dealing with these claims,” said Wendell. “The only way to move the insurance company off-center is to get an expert in your corner.”
“We're living in some very risky times, and that's why it's so important for consumers to prepare now,” Wendell said.
You can watch NBC 5’s entire four-part streaming docuseries, ‘Texas Power Crisis: 4:37 From Disaster.’ NBC 5 looks back at the days of frigid temperatures and desperation.
The series is streaming exclusively on NBC 5 on Roku, FireTV and AppleTV.
To find NBC 5 on Roku: Search for ‘NBC 5 Dallas Fort Worth’
To find NBC 5 on FireTV: Search for ‘NBCDFW’
To find NBC 5 on AppleTV: Search for ‘NBC 5 DFW’
The series also investigates the problems that were fixed in the past year, examines the lingering issues that could still leave us on the brink of another collapse, and explores whether it really was a once-in-a-lifetime storm, or if Texans will need to adapt to an increase in arctic blasts.
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 a resolution. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our customer complaint form.
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