Understanding the Texas Freeze Damage Process

Last updated Thursday, September 7th, 2023

Understanding the Texas Freeze Damage Process

Here’s How to Get Compensated For Freeze Damage to Your Property

What happens when your home loses power in the middle of a brutal winter? Sounds like the start of a survival horror movie, right? Unfortunately, it’s what ten million Texans actually went through in 2021. We’re talking about the Great Texas Freeze. A severe winter storm called Uri swept through Texas in February 2021, causing massive blackouts, hundreds of deaths, and $195 billion in damages.

The power outages lasted for nearly 42 hours and revealed how vulnerable we are without a functioning energy grid. Hundreds of Texans lost their lives due to hypothermia, carbon monoxide poisoning, and critical medical equipment failure.

Even the roads became inaccessible due to thin layers of ice forming over them. It led to cars losing control and getting caught in multi-car pile-up accidents throughout the state. People couldn’t even safely step out to get groceries.

Imagine having no warmth, no food, and no water stuck in a freezing home. It’s like being pushed back to the Dark Ages overnight.

The scary part is that such extreme weather events are getting more common every year. Winter storm Uri just exposed how vulnerable our energy grids are. And it’s not like Texas power companies have initiated a major infrastructure overhaul to prevent a situation like this. They’ve stuck to band-aid solutions for fixing the damage, but have not done enough to prevent it.

This winter storm was the costliest natural disaster ever faced by Texas SO FAR. It’s not the first time a disaster like this has happened and it definitely won’t be the last. Extreme weather events like Uri are only getting more common and our energy infrastructure may fail once again.

The Groundhog Day blizzard in 2011 caused rolling blackouts across 75% of Texas. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation made several recommendations for renovating the state’s electrical infrastructure. Unfortunately, these recommendations were ignored due to budget constraints.

It’s hard for Texans to put faith in power and gas companies again, especially knowing how ERCOT, AEP, and other companies tried to cash in on this crisis.

While people were struggling to survive, they hiked up methane and electricity bills by thousands of dollars during this period. Many citizens will probably be paying their gas bills for the next 30 years. These companies had a reasonable understanding of how long the blackouts would last, but they failed to warn customers about the potential risks.

Over the last two years, there were over 500,000 claims filed by victims of the Great Texas Freeze to cover their injuries and property damages. It’s possible many more freeze damage claims will be filed in the future in case of an extreme weather event.

In this article, we’ll give you a step-by-step breakdown of what it takes to file a successful freeze damage claim.  

Get Straight Forward Legal Advice

For Underpaid Insurance Claims in Houston Call For A FREE Case Review And Know What Your Case Is Worth.

What Causes Freeze Damage and Insurance Coverage

Texas contains multiple industrial processing plants that refine petroleum and natural gas. Most of their infrastructure is built to resist flooding and strong winds. However, their external tanks, pipes, and many other components are particularly vulnerable to freezing. Power generation plants faced the same issue.

The lack of winterization of supply pipes was identified as the biggest cause of the freeze damage. Most of the power and gas supply equipment in industrial plants and homes was not properly insulated against cold weather.

There was a widening gap in the energy supply and demand that sent power companies into panic mode. They tried to implement rolling blackouts to keep the electricity grid functional in a limited capacity. The power cuts disabled a few vital compressors that pump natural gas through pipelines. So it was clear these measures had no effect and things only went from bad to worse.

Water supply and heating systems were disrupted because of the pipes freezing and bursting.

Did your home face direct physical damage due to the freeze? You can file a claim against your homeowner’s insurance policy. Business owners can file a claim against their commercial property insurance coverage. They can be compensated for any physical damage and loss of income caused by the freeze.

However, damages like flooding may not be covered by your homeowners’ insurance policy. You may need flood insurance to file a claim for those damages.

Preparing Your Texas Freeze Damage Claim

Here are three essential steps you need to take to prepare your freeze damage claim effectively:

  •       Evaluating your damages – The extent of freeze damage may vary in every home. Some homes were destroyed by flooding while others only faced minor damage to their exteriors. You need to conduct a thorough investigation of each section of your home. Check your furniture, luggage, devices, walls, and flooring to identify any signs of damage. You’ll have to prepare a list of all items that need to be repaired or replaced.
  •       Documenting the damages – Take pictures and videos of the damaged parts of your home and belongings. You’ll also need detailed receipts to show how much it’ll cost to fix each issue. Don’t begin any repair work without doing this because it can sabotage your claim. You can consult an experienced Houston insurance lawyer to figure out the right timeline for fixing the damages.

Providing the Notice of Claim to the Insurance Company

You can take care of any emergency repair work to make your home safe. Once you’ve done this, it’s time to give your insurance company a heads-up about your plan to file a claim.

Consult an insurance lawyer about your policy term limit and coverage details. They will promptly shortlist all the essential evidence needed before contacting your insurance provider. This will help limit follow-ups about the errors and missing information in your claim.

Your insurance provider will have to acknowledge your claim within 15 days. They will contact you to request essential details that help them appraise the damages and verify your claim.

The Insurance Company’s Response: Timelines and Compensations

Your Texas insurance provider will have 15 days to approve or reject your claim once they’ve received it. Be prepared to engage with your insurance adjuster with a calm mind. They’ll ask all sorts of questions to clarify the details and evaluate your liability.

Ensure you make a note of every insurance company employee you interact with. You can request an advance payment for urgent help or living expenses if you have to temporarily relocate.

You can approach multiple contractors to check their rates and compare them with your adjuster’s report. Save any receipts of the deductibles you paid on the claim as proof.

You will be compensated within five business days once your insurer accepts your claim.

You will be compensated based on the following factors:

  •       Strength of evidence
  •       Level of injuries and damages you faced
  •       The limits of your policy coverage

Don’t be surprised by insurance providers delaying the process by repeatedly bombarding you with unnecessary documentation demands. It’s one of their notorious tactics to frustrate victims into giving up their claims.

Appealing Denied Freeze Damage Claims

Did you know 60-70 percent of freeze damage claims filed by over 500,000 victims were denied? It’s in your best interest to realize that your insurance company DOES NOT look out for your interests.

They are in the business of risk management, and they have no interest in risking their own profits to pay you. So there’s a strong possibility of them looking for any reason to delay, underpay, or deny your claim.

A pipe broken due to frozen waterHere are a few common reasons for claim denials:

  •       Your property was already in poor condition when the freeze damage happened
  •       You failed to conduct proper maintenance to repair damages that happened    before the freeze
  •       Missing information in the claim
  •       Inaccurate or fraudulent details
  •       Claim wasn’t filed within the statute of limitations
  •       Bad faith insurance practices

Navigating bad faith insurance practices can be tricky. It’s when the insurance provider wants to hold your payout even though you’ve provided everything needed to process your claim. They may deny your claiml, but it doesn’t mean that they can close the doors to fair compensation.

Our knowledgeable bad faith insurance lawyers will help you fight the denied claim. We will hold your insurance company accountable by pointing out all the holes in their arguments. We can even launch a bad faith lawsuit against them to seek additional damages beyond your policy coverage if necessary.

The Statute of Limitations: Litigation Timeframe

You can only take legal action against the liable parties within a fixed period. This is called the statute of limitations. There is a two-year statute of limitations for many causes of action in Texas including claims for violations of the Texas Insurance Code and the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (aka Bad Faith). It can sometimes be difficult to determine when the statute of limitations starts to run on an insurance claim. Case law indicates it is at the time of the denial or impasse.  Moreover, there are additional applicable causes of action such as breach of contract that have a four-year statute of limitations. You should contact an experienced insurance attorney immediately to determine whether your claims fall within the statute of limitations.  

Wyly & Cook: Your Partner in Freeze Damage Claims

Going up against insurance companies and energy giants is an uphill battle when you’re fighting on your own. But an experienced insurance attorney can help you level the playing field. At Wyly & Cook, our team of insurance lawyers has a proven track record ensuring our clients get fully compensated for their injuries and damages.

You don’t have to take on the burden of going back and forth with tricky insurance adjusters. Leave it to us to review your policy, gather evidence, pursue your claim, negotiate with adjusters, and represent you in court. You just sit back and let us get your life back on track.

You won’t have to pay us anything until we win your settlement. Call us today for a FREE case evaluation of your freeze damage case.

What are the common causes of freeze damage in Texas homes?

The primary cause of freeze damage in Texas homes was the lack of winterized pipes, which were vulnerable to freezing and bursting. This led to indoor flooding, mold, cracked foundations, damaged walls, broken roofs, and damaged water heaters.

Does homeowners’ insurance cover freeze damage, and what types of damages are typically included?

Yes. Any damage caused by burst pipes due to freezing can be covered by most homeowners’ insurance policies.

Here are some of the most common types of damages covered by these policies:

  •       Fire and lightning
  •       Wind or hailstorm
  •       Water damage or freezing
  •       Vandalism and theft

How should I prepare a thorough freeze damage claim to ensure proper compensation?

You must take these important steps to prepare your freeze damage claim:

  •       Conduct a thorough investigation of your home to identify all damages
  •       Take pictures and videos of the damaged areas
  •       Keep track of all the receipts to show how much it’ll take to fix each affected part
  •       Consult an experienced Houston insurance lawyer to review your policy and organize your evidence
  •       Identify all liable parties

What are the crucial steps to follow when providing the notice of claim to the insurance company?

It’s important to notify your insurance company about your damages as early as possible. Let them know of your intention to file a claim. You can then hire an insurance attorney to review your policy coverage details and start building your claim.

They will ensure you have all the necessary documentation to back up your claim while filing it. Your insurance company will have 15 days to acknowledge your claim once you’ve filed it. Once you’ve done this, your insurance company will conduct an investigation of your claim.

How long does it typically take for the insurance company to respond to a freeze damage claim?

Your insurance company has to respond to your freeze damage claim within 15 days of acknowledging its receipt. The whole process of settling the claim can take several months, even if there are no unusual delays.

Can I dispute if my freeze damage claim is denied, and how should I approach the process?

Yes. However, you should hire an experienced insurance attorney to challenge their decision. They will be able to identify and take action against any bad faith practices much more efficiently.

What is the statute of limitations for pursuing litigation after a freeze damage claim denial?

There is a two-year statute of limitations for many causes of action in Texas including claims for violations of the Texas Insurance Code and the Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (aka Bad Faith). It can sometimes be difficult to determine when the statute of limitations starts to run on an insurance claim. Case law indicates it is at the time of the denial or impasse. 

Moreover, there are additional applicable causes of action such as breach of contract that have a four-year statute of limitations. You should contact an experienced insurance attorney immediately to determine whether your claims fall within the statute of limitations.  

How can Wyly & Cook assist in handling freeze damage claims, and what sets them apart?

Wyly & Cook’s experienced insurance attorneys have successfully resolved many cases that involved freeze damage. We’re proud to stand up for every victim against the legal might of giant corporations and insurance companies.

You don’t need deep pockets to fight them or waste months struggling to get your insurance payout. We’ll exclusively use our legal and financial resources until we get you what you’re owed. 

You’ll be regularly updated about your case progress as we go from one step to another in the process. Insurance companies usually take claims pursued by lawyers much more seriously than claims handled by lay persons.

How can I schedule a consultation with Wyly & Cook for my freeze damage claim?

Want to know what your freeze damage settlement is approximately worth? Wondering how long will it take to secure it? Call us now for a FREE consultation with our experienced insurance attorneys and find out the next steps you need to take to get compensated.

Let's Go Beyond, to Bring You Back

Let's get you the compensation you're entitled to. Get a FREE Consultation today.

Let's Go Beyond, to Bring You Back

You deserve the compensation you’re entitled to, call for your FREE Case Review today.