Many East Texans are now trying to figure out how to navigate their insurance in order to get some help with cleaning up storm damage to their property.

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For those of us who lived through the event, we were subjected to freezing rain, sleet, ice and snow along with record setting low temperatures. Much of East Texas dropped below freezing on Saturday afternoon and were thrown in to the deep freeze for the next five days. Homes in this part of East Texas are not built to withstand extreme temperatures like we experienced. Many pipes and water mains too, burst across East Texas creating a stressful situation for homeowners. Frozen and busted pipes weren't the only thing homeowners were concerned about. They were also fearing falling branches and trees.

All sorts of property damage is being reported throughout the region, from busted pipes, broken window, flood damage and more and East Texas insurance companies are there to help you the best way they can right now. The Texas Department of Insurance offers up the following tips to homeowners to make the claim process go a bit smoother:

  • Make a list of damaged property. Take pictures or video of the damage. Don't throw anything away until your insurance company tells you to.
  • Take steps to protect your home from further damage. Turn off the water and cover broken windows and holes in your roof if possible. Save all receipts. Your policy may cover these costs.
  • Try to be there when the insurance company comes to inspects the damage. If you can’t stay in your home, leave a note with information on where you can be reached.
  • Keep a list of everyone you talk to at your insurance company. Be ready to answer questions about the damage.
  • Ask about additional living expenses. If you’re can’t live in your home due to the damage, your insurance policy may pay for some of those expenses.

If you are having to make repairs on your home or property, don't become a victim of a scam or be frauded out of money. When hiring a contractor, check their references and history with your local Better Business Bureau office. Collect more than one bid for the project and DO NOT PAY IN FULL UP FRONT. It is ok to pay for repairs as you go, but settle on a percentage amount to pay up front and make final payment when job is completed. Be weary of out of area or out of state contractors and never sign a contract with blank spaces.

Following these tips could save you a lot of time and headaches too. If you need more information the Texas Department of Insurance has some great resources for 'help after the storm' and a great 'winter storm' FAQ.

Stay alert and don't fall victim to a scammer.

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