RECOVERING FROM WINTER WEATHER

This is a difficult time for many Texans and the last thing you probably want to deal with is filing an insurance claim for your home or car. We hope this information makes the claim filing process a little easier.

Once you and your loved ones are safe, here are some tips to help you start the claims process and get back on your feet.

Homeowners Claims

You may have experienced rolling blackouts that left your home without electricity for hours or days. You may have had property damage such as: broken pipes, sewer problems, downed power lines, and fallen branches.

*⃣ For more detailed information, visit our Residential Property Claims Information page.

How do I prevent further damage?

  • If your pipes burst, turn off your main water valve immediately. Make sure to clean and dry areas that got wet.
  • Not all water leaks are going to be as obvious as a burst pipe. Do a thorough inspection of your home to look for any small leaks (such as around pipe fittings and behind appliances). It’s important to repair minor leaks before they cause extensive damage.
  • Cover any damage to your roof or outside walls to protect your property.
  • Don’t touch power lines. Call your utility company if there are tree limbs or fallen lines on or near your property.

How do I start the claims filing process?

Contact your agent or insurance company to file your claim(s), as soon as possible. Make sure your agent and insurance company have your correct contact information.

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Ask your insurance company what deadlines require action on your part, and what you can expect from them next.

Document your damage by making a list and taking pictures or videos.

Only make repairs that are necessary to protect your property from any more damage until your insurance company has seen the damage.

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Save itemized receipts for temporary repairs and living expenses.

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What’s next?

Find a qualified repair technician

It may be challenging to find to someone to make repairs due to the widespread damage. Research online. Ask family and friends for referrals. Your insurance company may also give you options. Here are some additional resources to help find qualified repair technicians:

  • Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners website for helpful tips on choosing a plumber or plumbing contractor.
  • Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR)’s website to search for licensed repair specialists such as electricians and air conditioning/heating technicians.
  • OPIC’s article on avoiding fraud after a disaster for tips on avoiding contractor scams during the repair process.

  Estimates and repairs

  • Your insurance company will determine the amount they will pay for your damages.
  • Be sure to address any differences between what your insurance company will pay and the contractor’s estimate.
  • Get a copy of all estimates and review any contracts before signing.
  • Make sure repairs are completed. Take photos/videos for your records before and after the repairs.
  • Keep all records about your claim, including repair estimates, emails, and receipts.
  • If you are owed withheld depreciation, you can collect the amount withheld once you prove that the repairs are complete. To learn more about Replacement Cost (RC), visit our ACV vs RCV page.

Get your home inspected

  • Make a list of all damage. To help ensure that the adjuster sees all the damage to your property, inspect your entire property including faucets, pipes, and appliancesDon’t forget attics, crawl spaces, outbuildings, fences, and sheds.  
  • Be available. Be on site for your inspection and available when your insurer sets the inspection time. Be present to answer any questions your adjuster has while they complete your inspection 
  • Provide all documentation to adjuster. Keep the originals, but give copies of estimates, receipts, and photos/videos of damage to the adjuster.  
  • Review the damage with your adjuster. If you are unsure if you have damage to a part of your property, or if you are unable to inspect it yourself, make sure your adjuster investigates it.  
  • Ask questions. Discuss the estimate, payment, deductible(s)depreciation, and any potential payments that you may be owed. Make sure to ask about next steps and any deadlines. 
  • Report additional damage immediately. If you find additional damage after your inspection, contact your insurer as soon as possible. 
  • Document everything. You should keep records of all claim communications (including notes from phone calls) and other claim documentation (including damage estimates and receipts). 

What if I have problems with my claim?

Claims can be complex, and every claim is different. Here are options to help if you have a problem:

  • Contact your claims adjuster. You can also ask to speak with a claims manager at your insurance company.
  • Call OPIC at 512-322-4143 or toll-free at 1-877-611-6742, or email us at help@opic.texas.gov. We can help answer your questions.
  • File a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). Call TDI’s Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit their website.
  • Contact an attorney to advise you of your legal rights. Visit the State Bar of Texas website or call 800-252-9690 to help you find an attorney.
  • Pay a licensed public adjuster or appraiser to review the damage and handle your claim.

 

Auto Claims

You may have experienced damage to your car from things such as a car crash or falling limbs.

*⃣ For more detailed information on filing an auto claim, visit our First-Party Claims Handling and Third-Party Claims Handling pages.

 

How do I start the claims filing process?

Contact your agent or insurance company to file your claim(s), as soon as possible. Make sure your agent and insurance company have your correct contact information.

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Ask your insurance company what deadlines require action on your part, and what you can expect from them next.

Document your damage by making a list and taking pictures or videos.

Take necessary steps to protect your property from further damage. For example, cover broken windows to prevent water from getting into your vehicle.

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Save itemized receipts for temporary repairs.

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What’s next?

  • Find a qualified auto body shop to do repairs.
  • Make sure the auto body shop you choose is insured or bonded.
  • If your vehicle was towed from an accident, get the vehicle moved to the repair facility ASAP.
  • Be sure to address any differences between your insurance company’s estimate and the auto body shop’s estimate.
  • Get a copy of all estimates and review any contracts before signing.
  • Make sure repairs are completed.
  • Keep all records about your claim, including repair estimates, emails, and receipts.

What if I have a problem with my claim?

Claims can be complex, and every claim is different. Here are options to help if you have a problem:

  • Contact your claims adjuster. You can also ask to speak with a claims manager at your insurance company.
  • Call OPIC at 512-322-4143 or toll-free at 1-877-611-6742, or email us at help@opic.texas.gov. We can help answer your questions.
  • File a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI). Call TDI’s Consumer Help Line at 1-800-252-3439 or visit their website.
  • Contact an attorney to advise you of your legal rights. Visit the State Bar of Texas website or call 800-252-9690 to help you find an attorney.
  • Pay a licensed public adjuster or appraiser to review the damage and handle your claim.

Other Resources

Call the Stranded Motorist Hotline at 1-800-525-5555 if you get stuck on the road.

Before you drive, check the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT)’s real-time roadway conditions map.

Visit the Public Utility Commission (PUC)’s storm page, for a power outage map and utility company contacts.

Visit the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM)’s website for updated state resources that may be available to you.

Visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s website for disaster assistance and updated federal resources that may be available to you.

Call 2-1-1 for shelter, food, and disaster services.

Visit the Red Cross website and other non-profit groups to find open shelters and other available resources in your area.

Call 7-1-1 for Relay Texas Service if you have speech or hearing loss that makes it hard to use a traditional phone.

Call 3-1-1 for non-emergency municipal/utility services.

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Texans who believe they’ve encountered price gouging should call 1-800-621-0508 or file a complaint online with the Attorney General’s Office.

Check out the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)’s website for guidance on public water systems.

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Research the company or contractor you want to work with and check the Better Business Bureau (BBB)’s Scam Tracker.

If you’re a small business owner that’s been affected by the extreme weather, contact the U.S. Small Business Administration at 800-827-5722 or visit their website.