Insurance companies, plumbers flooded with thousands of calls during winter storms

Historic cold, ice, and snow have knocked electricity and water out of people across Texas. Insurance companies and plumbers responded to crashes and calls on frozen pipes.

AUSTIN, Texas – In extreme temperatures on ice roads and freezing pipes, plumbers and insurance companies receive thousands of calls for help.

Typically, plumbers and water experts recommend dripping faucets in a house to prevent freezing. On Wednesday, the city of Austin recommended doing the opposite to rebalance the water supply after a loss of pressure.

“That makes sense,” said Daniel Lawlis, plumber and owner of Daniels plumbing for 24 years. “I used to be in my house. I noticed we had pretty low water pressure. My neighbors had low water pressure. It’s all in the neighborhood. Part of that will be due to water usage. You know, it actually is low volume. “

On Wednesday, Lawlis said his company planned 200 calls and failed to answer or declined 800 others. That’s more than a typical month. But he says that’s nothing compared to what comes for plumbers.

“Once it’s thawed, then [people will] realize they have a leak. Instead of having 800 calls that we couldn’t answer today, we will likely have 2,400 calls, “Lawlis said.

He now said people call thinking they have frozen pipes if it could just be a drop of melting snow. Some are frozen, but not everyone. Once it thaws, any frozen pipes will show how broken they are.

From @AustinWater now: We urge customers to stop dripping taps. We are in decision mode to supply critical locations with water. @ KVUE

– Mike Marut (@MikeMarutKVUE) February 17, 2021

RELATED: How to Turn Off Water When Pipes are Frozen, Burst, or Leaking

In addition to plumbing calls, insurance companies have already been taking calls from across the state due to the weather.

“We’re seeing customer calls from El Paso to the Panhandle in Dallas-Fort Worth and then on to Houston,” said Chris Pilcic of State Farm Insurance. “A lot of what we hear is about property claims related to frozen and burst pipes.”

RELATED: What To Do If Your Pipes Freeze or Burst?

The average State Farm payout for a frozen pipe claim last winter was just over $ 10,000, according to Pilcic. Broken pipes lead to problems of their own.

“It’s not just about the installation of the house, but possibly the walls, ceiling, cabinets and floor,” said Pilcic.

Before the pipes freeze, the winter weather caused hundreds of accidents on the roads, leading to more insurance calls.

RELATED: ‘It Was Dangerous’ | Tow truck drivers urge drivers to stay home, be careful

“We expect hundreds of thousands of claims for auto, homeowner, renter and commercial claims,” ​​said Camille Garcia of the Insurance Council of Texas. “That could range from tiny little fender benders to houses with significant water damage.”

This depends on your insurance plan. However, as long as you make a claim before it’s too late for your provider, it doesn’t matter how many people are filing in front of you. Garcia recommends taking photos of everything before you see damage and after damage has occurred, as well as documenting any conversations and payments you make for repairs.

“You want to set expectations. You want to document this conversation so you know what happens next in the process,” said Garcia. “You can also take steps to move the process forward. Have these conversations, document them, and make sure you know what the process looks like. And if you do, start now – start taking pictures and Photos now. So that’s how we’re looking at a role model. And if anything should happen in the future, you have the before and after photos so you can make plans and make decisions based on that. “

Both Garcia and Pilcic have highlighted, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that insurance claims inspectors sometimes conduct virtual inspections, which speeds up the claims process somewhat.

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