North Texas spent last weekend digging out from the previous week’s ice storm. The sun finally came out and we got above freezing allowing the ice to melt. By the middle of the week, power was restored to most people, schools were in session, people were working, and the roads were clear.
The initial insurance claim estimates for home claims was released by the end of the week. The initial tally was $30 million in claims. This does not include claim amounts for car insurance claims or commercial claims. Most of the home damage incurred was trees and limbs falling on houses, carports falling down, and pipes that broke due to the freezing temperatures.
The total cost of insurance claims will rise when car and business claims are factored in, but most insurance executives don’t expect the total figure to rise significantly. With over 200 car insurance companies operating in Texas, it takes a little longer to pull those numbers together. These figures don’t take into account money spent by government agencies battling the storm to keep streets and highways drivable or lost productivity from being shut down. Business losses will need to be included with the final total too. While this has been an expensive storm, it will be a long way from the billions in claims the two major storms in 2012 racked up.
There are a couple of actions I’d recommend home owners take now before another winter storm arrives, and we do have a couple more months where that can happen.
- Examine your trees
- Review your roof
- Evaluate your plumbing
All trees across north Texas had ice on them. The weight of the ice caused limbs to bow and break, tree tops to bend, and some trunks split. Now is the time to examine your trees for damage. Remove all broken and or dangling limbs, especially the ones over your or a neighbor’s roof. If you have trees where the trunks split, consult with a professional arborist to determine if the tree is salvageable or needs to be removed. Bowed and bent limbs should return to normal by spring. If they don’t, consult an arborist and determine whether they need to be removed.
As you evaluate your trees, determine where they are in relation to the power line that attaches to your home. Determine with an arborist if there are any limbs needing removal that could fall on this power line. Local power companies remove limbs near to their lines but you’re responsible for keeping the limbs away from your line.
If you had limbs fall onto your roof, have a professional roofer review it for damage. It is unlikely the entire roof will need to be replaced, however all damaged shingles should be replaced with new shingles so leaks don’t occur. Also replace any damaged plumbing and heating vents and all damaged wind turbines.
For those experiencing plumbing issues such as burst pipes or other leaks, have the remainder of your plumbing evaluated for small leaks. Discuss with your plumber what pipes need and if they can be wrapped to prevent this from occurring when the next major freeze happens. Even if you didn’t experience a major leak, keep a close eye on your water bill looking for large jumps in usage that could be an unseen leak. Consider wrapping your exterior faucets to keep them from freezing.
This is also a great time to review your home or condo policy and determine if you’re adequately covered.
- Do you have enough water coverage for sudden and accidental leaks (spontaneous leaks); I recommend at least $10,000 or more.
- Does your policy cover slow leaks? If not, can it be added?
- What kind of slab leak coverage do you have and is it enough? I recommend at least $10,000 to $15,000.
What did you learn from the storm? Share your thoughts, suggestions, and questions with me in the comments section of our blog or on our Facebook page. I’d love to hear from you!