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 getting back on your feet.

Residential Property Claims

You may have experienced 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.

If your pipes burst, turn off your main water valve immediately. Make sure to clean and dry areas that got wet. Don’t touch power lines. Call your utility company if there are tree limbs or fallen lines on or near your property.

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

How do I prevent further damage?

It’s important to check with your company and verify that you can proceed with next steps for repairs, disposal or anything related to the damage that may be covered by your insurance. Keep receipts, take photos or videos, and document any communication with your insurer.

  • 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.
  • Make sure to move construction and repair debris away from your property, it can attract pests, grow mold or rot, and pose a hazard to people or other property. Dispose of debris properly, and keep any receipts associated with debris removal.
  • If you notice mold damage, it’s important to contact your insurance company ASAP. Ask if you have coverage and what the next steps are.

 

How do I start the claim-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.

Until your insurance company has seen the damage, only make repairs that are necessary for safety or to protect your property from any more damage.  

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Save itemized receipts for temporary repairs and living expenses.

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What’s next?

 

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Find a qualified repair technician

It may be challenging to find 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.

 

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).

 

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.
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Problems with estimates

If your insurance company’s estimate and your contractor’s estimate are different, don’t worry  there may be an easy solution. There may be a miscommunication, or the insurance company may be missing some information. If you have a dispute with your company on what is covered or how much repairs cost, you should notify them right away to find out what options you have. Make sure issues are resolved before you begin repairs. Often the estimates differ for two reasons: 

Differences in Repairs 

  • Your claims adjuster and contractor may have noticed different damages. If your insurance company missed something during their inspection, they may need to reinspect your property.  
  • Your contractor’s estimate may include an item that isn’t covered by your insurance. Your contractor may need to adjust their estimate, or you may need to agree to pay the difference. 

Differences in Price 

If the cost of repairs is different:   

  1. Your insurance company may make an adjustment for the difference in price;   
  2. You may need to get additional contractors estimates; or   
  3. You can ask your contractor to provide more details to justify the price. 

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 claim-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.

winter weather

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.

Problems with estimates

If your insurance company’s estimate and your repair shop’s estimate are different, don’t worry — there may be an easy solution. There may a miscommunication, or the insurance company may be missing some information. If you have a dispute with your company on what is covered or how much repairs cost, you should notify them right away to find out what options you have. Make sure issues are resolved before you begin repairs. Often the estimates differ for two reasons:

Differences in Repairs

  • Your claims adjuster and repair shop may have noticed different damages. If your insurance company missed something during their inspection, they may need to reinspect your automobile.
  • Your repair shop’s estimate may include an item that isn’t covered by your insurance. Your repair shop may need to adjust their estimate, or you may need to agree to pay the difference.

Differences in Price

If the cost of repairs is different:

  1. Your insurance company may make an adjustment for the difference in price;
  2. You may need to get additional repair shop estimates; or
  3. You can ask your repair shop to provide more details to justify the price.

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

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 (SBA) at 800-827-5722 or visit their website. 

If you need a loan to pay for home repairs or property damage, learn more about SBA’s physical damage loans for homeowners and renters.