Texas homeowners now have a variety of homeowners insurance policies from which to choose and not all of them provide coverage for water damage caused when frozen water pipes burst or leak.
Robert Ramsower, the president of the Association of Fire And Casualty Companies in Texas (AFACT), advises that homeowners review their policy before a bitter cold spell ends up costing them dearly.
“More than 100,000 Texas homeowners have homeowners insurance policies issued through the Texas FAIR plan and they need to know now that they have no water damage coverage,” said Ramsower. “Even with full coverage every homeowner should know the amount of their deductible and whether or not they have an actual cash value or replacement policy. To be on the safe side, it’s always a good idea to review your coverage with an agent or company representative.”
Texans will wrap themselves up as winter weather arrives and most will protect their homes. Unprotected, outdoor water faucets can quickly freeze following a cold front resulting in frozen water pipes, which may burst inside the house. Oftentimes, floors, walls and furniture are ruined long before the leaks have been detected.
A prolonged freeze can cause hundreds of millions of dollars to Texas homes and commercial buildings. Freezing temperatures in 1983 and 1989 were two of the coldest years on record and homeowners from the Red River to the coast suffered damage.
When temperatures are expected to be in the 20s, homeowners should insulate pipes, especially those close to outside walls, in attics or crawl spaces where the chance of freezing is greatest. If you have an outside electrical water pump, don’t forget to insulate it as well. The more insulation you use, the better protected your pipes will be.
Wrap outdoor pipes and faucets with newspaper, foam, rags or any other insulating material. Cover them with plastic and secure with string, wire or tape. Hardware stores sell products designed to fit over an outside faucet providing insulation.
If your pipes burst, shut off the water immediately to prevent additional damage and call your plumber. Take an inventory of any damaged property or possessions. Do not dispose of any items without the prior approval of your insurance adjuster.
If you don’t know whether your homeowners insurance policy provides you with coverage for water damage, contact your insurance agent or company.
For additional information on protecting your home, go to the Insurance Council of Texas Web site at www.insurancecouncil.org and look under Consumers/Media and Consumer Tips for the brochure, Freeze Protection.
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