February 18, 2021

Filing an Insurance Claim for Texas Storm Damage? Payouts Hinge on Policy Details

When the snow and ice melt, many Texans will file insurance claims for the damage….

When the snow and ice melt, many Texans will file insurance claims for the damage. Some will be annoyed that they get nothing for a freezer-full of spoiled meat, while others will be pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to get money to fix a wrecked car.

The unusual winter storm in the big state is giving many insurers opportunity to test new mobile-based technology that has proliferated over the past year for more quickly settling claims for car wrecks, insurance-industry executives said.

But the massive storm also will highlight variations in basic homeowners policies that some consumer activists lament have become more common in recent years. Consumer activists say the disparity potentially leaves homeowners underinsured where they thought they were covered.

Many homeowners will learn that policies are anything but standardized across the industry, said Daniel Schwarcz, a University of Minnesota Law School professor.

Policies are more varied than they were a decade or two ago, he said. While some differences might work to homeowners’ advantage, a substantial majority could hurt them. As one example, some policies cover the risk that a structure collapses due to the weight of ice or snow, whereas others don’t, he said. Some may cover food spoilage resulting from the loss of power, though others don’t.