SAN ANTONIO – Since the big thaw is hardly going on after days of wintry weather, homeowners are flooding their insurance companies with claims. The Insurance Council of Texas estimates that hundreds of thousands of claims will be filed with losses running into billions.
The USAA alone had received more than 38,000 claims by Friday morning, a number that is sure to rise. Most of these claims related to frozen and broken pipes.
So what is normally covered by a house policy? Depends on.
“The homeowner’s policy covers the resulting damage and mostly covers frozen pipe in pipe burst situations,” said Elizabeth Gulick, vice president of disaster experience and joint claims.
However, the coverage, limits and exclusions vary depending on the individual’s insurance policy and their insurance company.
Gulick suggests that owners inspect their plumbing by walking around the house.
“Look under the cupboards where the sinks are, around the tub and toilet. Look up at the ceiling, ”she said. “Really judge what you hear, what you see.”
As the frozen pipes begin to thaw, it is important to know where the main water stop valve is. In the event of leaks or strange noises, the water can be cut off to minimize damage. Most of the water shut-off is located on the meter near the curb, but it can also be located on the water softener.
Because of the persistent and frequent power outages, many people have fridges and freezers full of spoiled food. Depending on the policy, you may also be able to make an insurance claim.
If you have any damage, document it with pictures or videos. Keep receipts for any related expenses.
It is important to know your guidelines. Claims can be made easily in many cases. USAA, for example, enables quick electronic claims.
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