There is a good chance that property damage claims from the shocking winter storm that hit Texas last month will be the largest number of claims generated by any single event in Texas history.
“Texans are calling their homeowner’s insurance in droves and opening up claims based on the property damage that resulted from the weather and power outages,” said John Kelly, a practicing attorney and insurance law expert at Kelly Law Team in Phoenix, Arizona in a recent Claims Journal article.
“Many are dealing with unexpected and extensive damage, including water damage from frozen piping. Many insurance companies have denied coverage on the damage, leaving homeowners with service bills and repairs that often cost thousands of dollars,” Kelly continued in the Claims Journal article.
Lots of lawsuits are coming
“Attorneys will be reviewing the policies to determine if they can force the insurance companies to cover the damage,” Kelly said in the Claims Journal article. “An insurance policy, which is a contract, will often have extensive exclusions to coverage that consumers are often surprised by and understandably upset [about], “Kelly continued in the article.
There is a good chance there will be plenty of additional lawsuits filed in the months to come as Texans discover the damage done to their homes.
“It will take months and likely years before the merits of cases will be heard and ruled upon by judges and juries, however resolutions short of trial can come for individuals who have valid claims within weeks,” Kelly warned in the Claims Journal article.
Attorneys will be focusing on bad faith litigation against insurance companies, claiming that they have not upheld the provisions of their policy contract.
“The relationship between an insurance company and the insured person is a first-party relationship, which obligates the insurer to a higher standard of care to adhere to the terms of the contract,” Kelly stated in the Claims Journal article.
Homeowners need to be aware of all of the exclusions included in their insurance policy which is why they should pull out their copy of it and familiarize themselves with all of the exclusions listed in the policy.
“If their claim is denied, the adjuster should be able to point them to the particular exclusion or language they are basing the denial upon,” Kelly advised in the Claims Journal article. “It is important to read and understand the exact language that is being used to deny the coverage. This will help attorneys evaluate whether it is possible to pursue a remedy.”
Texas counties that qualify for FEMA assistance
Currently, a total of 108 Texas counties have qualified for disaster assistance through FEMA due to the recent winter storm. According to the FEMA site, “disaster assistance may include financial assistance for temporary lodging and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.”
The following map illustrates counties that eligible for federal assistance: