HOUSTON – LIVING – Texas is in the spotlight again with residents worrying about whether they will soon need to file damage claims due to climate change disasters.
Trouble in Texas
The most recent winter storm in 2021 is only another occurrence in a list of growing troubles for the lone star state. In 2011, a record-breaking heat wave dried up the state which was due to La Niña sea-surface temperature conditions.
Scorching conditions raised the temperature to approximately 5 degrees Fahrenheit higher than average. This was an important milestone; never before had such a high temperature discrepancy been recorded. Additionally, researchers concluded that human-induced climate change increased the risk of higher than normal averages by raising the temperature.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey swept through the state causing more than a hundred fatalities and over $125 Billion in damages. The Category 4 hurricane also caused massive flooding and is comparable to Hurricane Katrina as one of the costliest cyclones on record.
These types of catastrophic events also leave those without a homeowners insurance policy in a vulnerable state. This was the case with Betty Fonrose, a 94-year-old woman who couldn’t renew her policy because her insurer wanted to reduce ‘overall exposure’ to these events.
Specifically, the company wanted to avoid massive losses from the types of unpredictable events their business model isn’t meant to cover.
Notably, the winter storm which left thousands of residents without heat or electricity also affected their plumbing. During this time, burst pipe insurance damage claims rose due to the bitter temperatures and uninsulated pipes.
However, much of the damage wasn’t due to the cold itself, but instead a result of a loss of power. The lack of heat drove internal home temperatures to below freezing, which affected the pipes as well. These types of consequences are rarely considered, and can leave lasting or irreparable effects.
As expected, there was an increase in burst-pipe service requests and insurance claims from residents across Texas. This highlights the importance of insurance, as destructive weather effects become less predictable.
It’s also helpful to think of homes as networks with many different parts, and when one part is affected it could lead to greater consequences down the line. Frozen or burst pipes, for example, can lead to long term water damage and mold.
How to Deal with Insurance Claim Adjusters
There are many ways to prepare for a visit from an insurance claim adjuster. It’s important to recognize that they work on behalf of the insurer and therefore may try to determine the lowest justifiable payout.
While this may greatly on the insurance company and who is handling the claim, the point is that it’s also the homeowner’s responsibility to help the adjuster understand the extent of the damage. Being prepared with a few tips for handling an insurance company adjuster can go a long way.
One way to do this is by keeping a detailed inventory of all valuable personal possessions, including make, model number, and cost. In the event of a flood or fire which destroys these objects, this list will help insurance claim adjusters factor the losses into their calculations. The more detailed the better.
It also helps to keep photographs, videos, and detailed descriptions of the general condition of the house. This type of documentation may help the insurance company determine what caused the damages or failures.
Of course, it is important to always be honest when recording anything since the adjuster will scrutinize every detail.
With these tips in mind, residents in Texas can better prepare themselves for unexpected weather events. A Houston home insurance policy may cover some or all damages, depending on the policy.