As we write this very article, Texas residents across the state are experiencing a type of loss previously rare to this region: pipe breaks caused by freezing temperatures. Due to the arctic cold snap that has pushed through South Texas over the past week, our fellow residents have endured horrific weather conditions, suffered incredible property damage to their homes and businesses, and are now left to wonder if their insurance companies will stand behind them after the storm presses north. Regretfully, history teaches that we cannot count on the full support and cooperation of our own insurers, who may underpay or completely deny these exact types of claims in the upcoming months.
The most prevalent loss anticipated to Texas home and business owners will stem from pipe breaks, occurring both inside and outside of their properties. Fortunately, both this direct damage and the consequential water damage to follow are almost always covered under residential and commercial insurance policies. But can every policyholder assume, even if paid some amount by their insurer, that they will get all the funds needed to complete home or business repairs, or a complete replacement of their plumbing system? The answer is resoundingly “no”, as most insureds receive only a fraction of the proceeds necessary to be made whole.
A recent ZMF client faced these exact circumstances, when his home was damaged by an interior pipe break. After being paid approximately $24,000, which was less than one-third of the funds he needed to make all related repairs, this homeowner’s insurance company refused to pay the remaining amounts, forcing its own insured to retain the experienced lawyers at ZMF to pursue the remainder of his claim. Utilizing decades of experience in dealing with unreasonable or incompetent insurance companies, ZMF pushed the matter aggressively and quickly secured a settlement of an additional $50,000 – over twice the amount originally paid to their client – which allowed this owner to complete all remaining necessary repairs.
The lesson here is clear: Even when insurance companies pay a residential or commercial pipe break claim, the proceeds are many times insufficient to make their policyholder whole. Throughout the upcoming months, tens of thousands of Texans across this state will be making insurance claims stemming from winter storm Uri that are severely underpaid or improperly denied. While this is an unfortunate certainty, the attorneys at ZMF stand ready to assist our fellow homeowners and business owners alike, in protecting their legal rights and securing the funds they need to rebuild their homes, re-open their doors, and restart their lives.