On Property Insurance Claim Tips Blog

One Month In, Texas Property Owners Face Insurance Claim Delays and Excessive Scrutiny

One Month In, Texas Property Owners Face Insurance Claim Delays and Excessive Scrutiny

It’s been about 1 month since Winter Storm Uri unleashed a frozen fury leaving millions of Texans in the dark to survive deadly frigid temperatures and up to $130 Billion in estimated damages. The record cold triggered mass power outages crippling The Lone Star State’s largest cities from Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Arlington, Austin, El Paso and down to Corpus Christi. Despite the frenzy of news media covering the Texas grid crisis, power company executive resignations, bankruptcy filings and lawsuits, little coverage has been given to property owners still suffering from water damage caused by the plumbing freezes, water pipe bursts, or the administrative delays processing property damage insurance claims. Many consumers are just now turning to their insurance agents to file new claims or express frustration about the slow claims process. The single biggest question many are asking is, will insurance cover their claims? 

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The Frozen Mess in Texas and What it Will Mean for Insurance Claims

The Frozen Mess in Texas and What it Will Mean for Insurance Claims

Based on all the news from various media sources and real time reporting, this Texas weather event that caused power outages frozen pipe bursts and water damage is going to be a monster. Clients we have spoken with along with claim adjusters assigned to our losses are describing unprecedented conditions with damages to homes and buildings. How policyholders report and handle these claims will make a difference in the final outcome.

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Deep Freeze Will Create Frozen Pipe Leaks and Water Damage Insurance Claims

Deep Freeze Will Create Frozen Pipe Leaks and Water Damage Insurance Claims

A historic deep freeze is gripping the US with sub-zero temperatures and even more serious wind chill factors. With it will come unprecedented frozen pipe bursts, iced dams and roof collapses that will cause extensive property damage and loss to personal and commercial property as well as business inventory.  As for homeowners, if you discover a leak, turn off your water, call in a reputable plumber, inform your insurance company of the damage and get their agreement to fix and pay for the damage before hiring a reputable clean-up company.

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Winter Storm Juno is Over – Get Ready for the Insurance Claims

Winter Storm Juno is Over – Get Ready for the Insurance Claims
While it seems most of the New York and New Jersey areas escaped major damage from the blizzard, folks in New England weren’t so lucky. We’re seeing reports of major flooding, coastal property damage, frozen pipe bursts and roof collapses from all the heavy snow will continue.  A couple of good articles that were just published Policyholders would be wise to read the articles below that were just published and offer tips on how to better navigate the insurance claims process. Read More

Winter Storm Juno and the Insurance Claims to Come

Winter Storm Juno and the Insurance Claims to Come
Listening to the weather wonks, it sure looks like Winter Storm Juno may be one for the record books. It may also be a notable one for the insurance industry with all the expected claims from water losses due to frozen pipe breaks, collapsed roofs due to heavy snow loads, and most unfortunately fires from faulty heating appliances and improper use of space heaters. Policyholders in New England, New York and New Jersey need to take notice.Read More

Municipalities Also Feeling the Impact of Frozen Pipes

Home and business owners aren’t the only ones feeling the impact from frozen pipe breaks. A recent NY Times article; A Severe Winter Breaks Budgets as Well as Pipes discusses the toll the deep freeze is taking on municipal infrastructure which may be dealing with pipes over 100 years old. We also know schools and other public facilities are experiencing frozen pipe damage.  When there is wide spread damage from weather events, we’ve seen these local governments bring in public adjusters to manage their claims since they are typically short on resources.

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Policyholder Question: Frozen Pipe Burst Claim Dispute - Is it Time to Hire a Public Adjuster?

Policyholder Question: Frozen Pipe Burst Claim Dispute -  Is it Time to Hire a Public Adjuster?

Here is an insurance claim question that we answered as a contributing member of experts for United Policyholders who advocates for property owners.

Q. I had an upstairs pipe burst 1 month ago that caused damage to the upstairs bathroom (tile & drywall), carpet in upstairs (hallway & one bedroom), all of downstairs kitchen (walls, cabinets, ceiling, under-house insulation, HVAC ductwork). After quickly stopping the leak and vacuuming out the water, I set up my claim and started calling water damage restoration companies.  Of the dozen I called, only one could come out sooner than 5 days.  They began drying and demolishing within 2 days.  After my persistent calling, an adjuster finally got in touch with me 8 days later to setup an appointment.  This appointment was 24 days after initial damage!  Now I will talk about my dispute.  Two adjusters showed up.  The upstairs tile had expanded and contracted enough to bust loose.  The tile creaks badly and the adjusters bent down with me and clearly observed it moving.  However, they still were insistent on not replacing it.  I have continuous carpet (mended seamlessly at the thresholds) all over the upstairs including stairs.  They wanted to cut above the stairs and at thresholds, citing they only had to replace what was damaged.  Downstairs, they wouldn't even consider the tile, although I know that it was wet under those tiles for at least a week with plenty of time for mold spores to form.  Every piece of plywood under those tiles was wet and didn't get insulation removed for 4 days and never had a fan or dehumidifier put in the crawl space.

Where do I go from here? I thought I should first write the adjusters a letter in my defense.  I was an engineer for The Tile Council of North America which publishes industry-consensus guidelines for ceramic tile installation. I have plenty of expertise and sources to back my concerns. Or should I just get a public adjuster? Thank you!

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The Big Freeze Broken Pipes and Snow… the Way It Was

While looking for some information in my office library yesterday, I pulled a book from a shelf titled The Policyholder Advisor authored by Eugene R. Anderson, William G. Passannante, and Robert M. Horkovich. These three gentlemen, all attorneys, and at the time of publishing in 2002, shareholders at Anderson Kill & Olick P.C. now Anderson Kill P.C. one of the nation’s leading law firms for policyholders. The book jacket noted that the book is a collection of articles published in the firm’s newsletter, “The Policyholder Advisor.”

It was a little uncanny when I opened the book, and it opened to page 181 and the chapter title was “Insurance Coverage Available for Property Losses from The Blizzard of 96.” While no two storms are ever the same, there sure are a lot of similarities between the 1996 blizzard and the current polar vortex malaise of 2014; especially when it comes to insurance coverage issues and disputes with insurance carriers.

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Frozen Pipes, the Resulting Water Damage, and Now Snow--Is It Time to Call in the Cavalry?

Frozen Pipes, the Resulting Water Damage, and Now Snow--Is It Time to Call in the Cavalry?
With another polar blast and big snowstorm adding to the misery in the already frozen Northeastern U.S., I was wondering how the property insurance industry is holding up given the onslaught of property claims being filed. Well, that question was answered when we received an auto-reply from an adjuster in New York who works for one of the big insurance companies who we are working with on a claim following Super Storm Sandy. His reply, “please be advised that we are currently experiencing higher than normal volume due to recent weather related events and there may be a delay in returning your email.” Returning timely emails is one thing, but adjusting a loss is a whole other animal given the working conditions in the frozen north; especially when it comes to frozen pipes.Read More

Policyholder Question: What’s Covered in a Pipe Leak Water Damage Claim?

Q. I have filed a claim for water damage to my living room. The adjuster provided details of coverage prior to mitigation, for $1, 762.68 including my $1,000 deductible; for which I paid. The mitigation folks provided another estimate of an additional $6,000 to my insurance adjuster. This was their estimate once they opened up the wall where the water was causing damage. Two major findings, once they opened up the wall: 1) they discovered a pipe leak 2) two beams are termite infested! Neither are covered under my insurance (Nationwide)! The company that came in to do the recovery completed the cleaning, disinfecting, and drying out process. However, they informed me that they would not replace the wood beams that are damaged by termites. I paid for the restoration of the pipe out-of-pocket but cannot afford to pay anymore additional repairs. I explained this to them; to which they replied, "you can cash out and get another estimate." I told them that I needed to get further guidance. They said they would get back to me and left. I have not heard from them, and now I have one wall and part of the floor in my living room exposed. What are my options?Read More