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The days were long, dark, and cold last week as most of Texas went without power and running water. Freezing roads and black ice compounded the issues as Texas witnessed one of its deadliest traffic pile-ups.

As water returned, more problems arose, with homes and businesses throughout our great state dealing with busted pipes, cracked windows, and little preparation for the long-term effects of the Winter Storm of 2021.

Photo YouTube WFAA
Photo YouTube WFAA

What did we learn and how can we do better if there is ever a next time?

We spoke to Lori Buesing who works with her husband at a local independent insurance agency here in Victoria for some tips on filing insurance claims and how to protect your home from the potential of damage for more winter storms in the future.

Lori offers a few tips on filing your homeowners' insurance.

"Most of your insurance companies will have main numbers. Look on your policy and declaration pages for the claims telephone number, or look up your insurance name and "claims" online. File as early as possible. You can start calling plumbers now. Check with your agent first, but you can normally call a plumber ahead of the claim."

One of the most important tips Lori offered and wanted to be sure we emphasized is that the insured policy owner is required to "mitigate their damage".

This means you, the homeowner, are in charge of mitigating your damages by doing things like turning off water sources and moving furniture out of harm's way when busted pipes are discovered.

"For instance," Lori offers, "If water is leaking into a bedroom on your bed, you need to move the bed. You can't allow additional damage to occur as the insurance company might be able to deny the claim otherwise. Keep in mind during times like these, during larger disasters, plumbers, and repairmen might be in short supply with longer wait times." So, having moved your bed and airing it out, could be the difference in having a bed to sleep in while you wait.

"One of the best reasons to have an independent insurance company is that they can walk you through all of it. You should always have a dedicated agent," Lori offers additionally.

In relation to being better prepared for a future winter storm, Lori advises that everyone should try to have an emergency kit prepared and ready to go now. In addition, she adds, "Fill your propane canisters, make sure you have canned goods and water, fresh batteries and lanterns as well as having medicines filled."

Getty Images (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Getty Images (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

In terms of how to improve your home, Lori suggests taking a walk around your house every month or so to check on windows and doors. "You need to check to be sure you can't see any lights through the frame of the doors and windows." Lori offers.

Speaking of windows, Lori recommends caulking your windows every decade. And when it comes to pipes, if you can access your pipes, now is the best time to start insulating themWrapping your hose bibs and water wells before storms is important too. 

Another interesting tip from Lori which we wish we had known during the storm, included opening the doors to your cabinets with exposed plumbing as that can help the pipes keep warm!

Lori adds lastly, "This might be the time to look into life insurance and umbrella policies as well."

An umbrella policy covers all different types of high liability situations, like a diseased tree limb falling on your neighbor's car during a freak winter storm.

Yes, these things can happen and as we've seen in the last week, they can happen in Texas too.

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