February 19, 2021

Texas winter storm: property damages will cost billions in insurance claims

In the last week, Texas has been under extreme weather conditions: winter storms –with heavy snowfall and much below-average temperatures– have impacted the Southern U.S. People have been coping without heat and water and with energy shortages for several days. The storm has taken 21 lives so far.

But cities’ infrastructure isn’t the only one suffering the consequences of the weather. Many households are being affected and will definitely have to deal with the damage of the storms. The most common property problems caused by this climatic event will reach billions in insurance costs, perhaps exceeding Hurricane Harvey.

Burst pipes and damaged ceilings

News of burst pipes and collapsed ceilings have been published on every news site due to the record-low temperatures. Houston’s public works department, for instance, received more than 1,500 calls about water leaks and water main breaks, according to NBC News.

Meanwhile, Galveston informed that there had been an “unprecedented” number of broken pipes in homes. In a statement, the city pointed out that “now that power is slowly coming back on and temperatures are rising, we are experiencing a massive amount of water damage to homes and businesses.” The reason is that “since the power was off for such an extended time, temperatures inside of homes reached levels that were sub-freezing.” Therefore, it “has produced an unprecedented amount of frozen water pipes.”

While flooding –provoked by exploding pipes– is a consequence visible to the naked eye, many damages remain a mystery to homeowners. Moreover, the freezing days aren’t over. The National Weather Service informed that, while temperatures begin to moderate in the South, they will remain much below normal into the weekend.

The costliest weather event in Texas history?

Hurricane Harvey reached $19 billion in insurance claims back in 2017, and it’s the costliest weather event in Texas so far. However, Camille Garcia, communications director with Texas’s Insurance Council, said this winter storm would probably snatch first place.

We are used to our storms here in Texas with tornadoes, hurricanes, and hail. But those are regional. We are talking about an event that reached every part of Texas.

Camille Garcia, communications director with Texas’s Insurance Council

Chris Pilcic, a spokesman for the state’s largest homeowners insurance provider, revealed that they’ve got approximately the same number, if not more, frozen pipe claims in Texas than they had across the country all of last year. Rebekah Nelson, the spokeswoman for the state’s fifth-largest homeowners insurance provider, informed that they have already received more than 20,000 claims for property insurance damage. And the worst is yet to come: “People won’t even know that their pipes are damaged until they start to thaw and water starts running again,” she concluded.

In the next few days, Real Estate IQ will provide several contacts to fix housing problems caused by the winter storm. Stay tuned!