Has the power grid in Texas really been fixed? Will we experience grid failures like the one in the fatal deep freeze of 2021 that left Texans without power and in the cold for days? This is a debatable question.
When extreme weather causes frozen pipes or power outages, you may wonder if your homeowners insurance covers damages caused by these elements. Some do, but limits and denied claims are a distinct possibility.
Coverage for burst pipes
A deep freeze can cause the pipes in your home to freeze and burst. Pipes that burst can cause significant water damage.
Many homeowners insurance policies in Texas cover repairs and cleanup costs due to burst pipes. However, an insurer can deny a burst pipe claim if the homeowner shut off the heat to their home on their own or if the insurer believes the homeowner did not properly protect their pipes from freezing.
Coverage for power outages
Your home could become uninhabitable if the power is out for days, especially in winter’s freezing temperatures. Homeowners may be forced to leave their home and stay in hotels or shelters until the power is back on.
Many homeowners insurance policies contain additional living expenses (ALE) coverage. This means they will cover expenses you incurred because your home became unexpectedly uninhabitable.
However, some insurers will not provide ALE coverage simply because the power went out. ALE coverage might not kick in until a home has been uninhabitable for a certain number of days, or there may be limits on how many days ALE coverage will last.
If your claim is denied in bad faith
Insurers may be quick to delay or deny homeowners insurance claims that are filed due to a widespread catastrophic weather event. This is true even if the claims are valid.
Texas Insurance Code §541 addresses situations where an insurance company knowingly and wrongfully denied a claim or purposely delayed paying a claim. These are considered acts of bad faith.
Insurers are not allowed to lie to policyholders in order to reach a settlement in their favor regarding coverage of a claim. Insurers cannot drag their feet on paying a settlement when the claim is reasonably clear. Insurers must not deny a claim without performing a reasonable investigation into the claim.
Still, it can be difficult to fight delayed or denied claims, even when it seems like the law is on your side. It can take experienced advocacy to prevail. Fortunately, you can seek the assistance you need to better understand what the insurance company should pay you what they owe you.