A phrase I heard, understand, and often use is –
You do not know what you do not know until you do.
Never have we had a Winter Storm Warning for ALL 254 Counties in Texas. That is 171.902 MILLION ACRES of TEXAS.
We could start this at the top and persecute the “Leaders” at ERCOT for the massive failure. Yet, there have been enough revelations of failure in the news and social media.
Thankfully today, the temperature will get above freezing.
It will be a welcome change to the past week; it is only the beginning of the ongoing disaster for others.
Warren Buffet is quoted with the saying,
“Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”
Today it is going to be,
“Only when the pipes thaw will you find out if they had cracked or burst.”
What to do if your pipes burst
BE PREPARED – go out in your yard and find out where to turn off the water to your house. It is covered with snow and ice and is going to be challenging to find. Being prepared like a Boy Scout will make this preparation necessary.
HAVE the RIGHT TOOL – Turning off your water requires either immense strength or having the right tool. You need to own a Water Meter Tool. They are less than $20.00, and you can buy them at Home Depot and Lowes.
If you do not have one or cannot buy one, start asking NOW who has them in your neighborhood. If you live near me, I have one and will come to help you. Getting the water turned off is 99% of the problem.
Call 911 – This is going to be the last resort to get your water turned off. The men and women of the Fire Department have the tool and can make it happen. Yet, how long is it going to take before they get there? 30 minutes?
AFTER THE PIPE BREAKS
You got the water turned off, but now you need to take additional actions
- Cut off the electricity to the area of the home with water. You can do that at the fuse box in your house. Do you know where that is? Are the fuses labeled? It might be a good project today.
- Call a plumber. I know they are all going to be busy, but you are going to need one. It’s a good idea to research 24-hour plumbing companies in advance, just in case. I would suggest you talk to your neighbors and the companies doing renovations in your area to see who they would recommend.
- If flooring, walls, or ceilings are severely damaged, you may need to contact a water damage professional.
- Pull up wet carpets and rugs
- Prevent mold and mildew buildup – use mops, towels, and a wet/dry vacuum to soak up the water. Dry the area as soon as you can. Mold can start growing within a day after a leak.
FILE THE INSURANCE CLAIM
According to the Texas Department of Insurance, most homeowners’ policies cover sudden and accidental water damage. Accidental damage is caused by a burst pipe, tub or toilet overflow, or a broken appliance hose.
Coverage varies by policy, so read your policy or talk to your agent to know what’s covered. If your policy doesn’t cover water damage, you might be able to add the coverage to your policy
What will my policy pay for?
If your policy covers water damage, it will pay to repair or replace your home and the things you own, like your clothes and furniture. It might also pay your additional living expenses if you have to move while your home is repaired. Additional living expenses include rent, food, and other costs you wouldn’t have if you were still in your home.
What else should I do?
- Tell your company as soon as possible.Most companies have deadlines for you to file a claim. You usually must report water damage that was hidden from view within days after you first see it. Call your agent or your company’s claims number to start your claim. The claims number should be in your policy.
- Make a list of your damaged property. If possible, take pictures or videos of the damage before making any repairs. Don’t throw away any damaged items until your adjuster has seen them.
- Make only temporary repairs to protect your house and belongings. For instance, put a tarp on your roof or cover a broken window. Don’t make permanent repairs. The insurance company might deny your claim if you make permanent repairs before it sees the damage.
- Keep receipts. To get full payment, you must prove to the insurance company that you replaced destroyed items. Receipts will help you do this. Also, keep receipts for any materials you bought to make repairs.
- Try to be there when the insurance company’s adjuster looks at your damage. If your home is damaged, have your contractor with you. Your contractor can talk to the adjuster about estimates and other issues.
Lastly, before your sign off on the claim and accept the insurance companies estimate, talk to the contractors who will do the work to ensure that the estimate is accurate and fully covers the damage.
My recommendation is for you to have a public adjuster work with you to resolve the claim.
Stay warm and dry; Spring is coming
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Michael Tannery CPA CDFA® AIF® ● CEO
Registered Principal | Tannery & Company
Be A Financial Olympian™
The opinions expressed in this material are for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. Individual circumstances do vary.