Insurance Council of Texas provides advice on handling weather damage
AUSTIN, Texas - Thousands of Texans are dealing with busted water pipes and downed trees that have caused a lot of damage.
For those who have homeowners' insurance, most of this should be covered, but it does depend on the individual policy.
The Insurance Council of Texas provided some advice to FOX 7 Austin on what to do now.
The first step is to contain the source of the damage. If it is a broken pipe, homeowners should shut off the water to their home until repairs are made. If a tree fell on the home, homeowners should arrange for the removal and cover holes with tarps until the damage can be repaired.
SIGN UP FOR FOX 7 AUSTIN EMAIL ALERTS
Second, homeowners should document everything, damages and losses, with pictures and video. Third, get in touch with your insurance company as soon as possible to file a claim. In most cases, busted pipes caused by the freeze will be covered along with any other damage as a result.
ICT also says to do your research when it comes to hiring a contractor, as the council has seen fraud spike time and time again following incidents like the winter weather that impacted Texas.
RELATED: How to help Texans in need following winter storm, where to donate
"Ask your family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations. Look at local contractors - somebody who has a local storefront and has been in business for a while," Camille Garcia with ICT said. "Consider looking at their online reviews. And, make decisions based on that due diligence."
Garcia also suggests looking at the Better Business Bureau or your local chamber of commerce and asking for recommendations there.
DOWNLOAD THE FOX 7 AUSTIN NEWS APP
"Really, it is so important because we so much of this spike post-disaster circumstances - we want to make sure our consumers, our residents here in this state are protected because they've already been through one tragedy - why be a victim of a second tragedy by succumbing to fraudulent folks," said Garcia.
RELATED: Winter storm food safety: What to keep and toss during power outages
Once you do find a contractor, ICT says you should demand they itemize everything in their quote.
If your home is uninhabitable, insurance may cover temporary housing or additional living expenses while repairs are made. Also, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, claims and interactions with insurance adjustors may be handled virtually, which could help speed up the process.