10 months after winter storm, some Texans are still waiting for their insurance claims – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Ten months after their homes were damaged in the February winter storm, thousands of Texans are still waiting for their insurance to get repairs done.

“My house is still uninhabitable,” said Terry Gilg, whose Dallas apartment flooded when the sprinkler hoses froze and then burst.

Gilg is one of several condo owners at The Parks on Travis Condos in Dallas who say they have been out of their homes since the freeze up while waiting for condo insurance to pay for repairs.

“I think the hardest part is the emotional toll of not having a home,” Gilg said. “I don’t think insurance companies think about that when they put everyone on hold.”

Residents of the condo said their insurer had not denied their claim, but had not approved it either.

“I think that’s the most frustrating part. They didn’t say we were wrong, ”said Andrew Siers, who also hasn’t been able to return to his condo since the winter storm. “I expected it to be a lot more direct and straightforward than it actually turned out to be.”

Condo owners’ insurer, Community Association Underwriters, did not respond to questions from CBS 11 Team I about the delay.

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Insurance said the agency found no violations of insurance law after investigating a complaint filed by condo owners.

More than 400,000 Texas homeowners have filed an insurance claim for damage caused by the historic winter storm, according to TDI records.

The average number of days to close these claims was 31.4 days. As of June 30, 2021, 8.5% of claims remained open.

Texas law requires insurance companies to pay claims within 60 days of receiving all necessary information from the owner, but consumer advocates say it is often difficult to hold insurance companies to account .

In 2017, the Texas Legislature passed an Insurance Bill, dubbed both the “Hailstorm Bill” and the “Blue Tarp Bill”.

Supporters said the bill was aimed at preventing abusive lawsuits, including the practice of suing an insurance company even before filing a claim.

However, critics said the law also discouraged insurance companies from paying claims quickly by reducing penalties for late payments.

The House Bill 1774 lowered insurers’ interest penalty for late payments from 18% to a variable rate of + 5% above market interest rates.

“It’s really a man-made disaster on top of these natural disasters,” said Ware Wendell, executive director of Texas Watch, a non-partisan advocacy group that works to hold insurance companies accountable to. their clients.

Wendell said he believes this law is the reason many Texans are still waiting for their insurance companies to close claims from the February winter storm.

A spokesperson for the Texas Insurance Council disagreed.

He said: “Businesses are still subject to significant penalty interest and the new law does not encourage businesses to delay payments.”

How long do insurance companies have to close a claim in Texas?

– 15 days (30 days for excess lines) to acknowledge receipt of a claim and request information on the loss

– Another 15 days to accept or reject the claim once the company has all the required information about the loss

– 5 days (20 days for excess lines) to make the payment if the claim is accepted.

TDI said delays can occur if there is a dispute over coverage, amount of loss or policy terms.

Top 5 Tips From Consumers For Insurance Claims (Source: Texas Watch)

1. REPORT YOUR CLAIM IMMEDIATELY – Some policies may have quick reporting deadlines for storm damage. As soon as you notice any damage, it is important to contact your insurance company and report the loss. Document all communications you have with them.

2. READ YOUR POLICY – Make sure you locate your insurance policy and take the time to read it along with any endorsements, which are changes that change the wording of the policy. If you don’t have your policy ready, ask your agent to send you a complete copy and all endorsements.

3. DOCUMENT ALL DAMAGE – Have your property inspected, if safe, and take pictures of the damage and surrounding areas. If a plumber removes part of your burst pipe, save that part or any other damaged part so that the insurance company can see it.

4. SAVE RECEIPTS – If you need to purchase supplies for temporary repairs or need to stay in a hotel because you are moving from your home, keep your receipts in case your policy covers these expenses.

5. BE THERE FOR THE INSPECTION – When the insurance adjuster arrives to inspect your property, make sure you are there so you can report any damage.

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