Winter storms can cause damage to cars, homes, buildings and roads. AAA Texas reminds home and vehicle owners to avoid restoration and repair scams by working with their insurance company directly. In addition, consumers should understand their insurance policies to know what type of damage is covered. AAA Texas members have a toll-free number to use for assistance during and after this winter storm.
Submitting Home and Auto Claims
Those who have homes and vehicles damaged by the winter storm in Texas, and who are insured through AAA Texas, can call 1-800-924-6141 for claims assistance.
“During major events such as this storm, we want our insured members to know they can contact us immediately if they need our assistance, and we will be there to assist them with getting their lives back to normal as soon as possible,” said Claudia Rodriguez, AAA Texas Vice President of Insurance Claims.
Avoiding Repair/Clean Up Scams
Owners of homes that had damage from the storm are anxious to begin the repair process quickly but keep in mind, some companies and bad actors may try to take advantage of people who need repairs. Consumers should be cautious of any representatives that go door-to-door. If consumers choose to work with an independent business, please remember the following:
• Call your insurance adjuster to get an estimate of the damage before making repairs. AAA Texas Claims will be available to help you by calling 1-800-924-6141.
• Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints about the company.
• Get the company representative’s license plate number.
• Never pay in-full for repairs up front.
• Get an agreement in writing.
Homeowners insurance generally covers sudden and accidental losses. For example, damage from the freeze event is usually covered, as is the resulting water damage from frozen pipes. Damage to the structure caused by fallen trees would usually be covered as well.
AAA Texas Tips for Home and Auto Insurance Policyholders:
• Photograph your home, paying special attention to the kitchen, bathrooms, windows, doors and personal property of high, unusual or sentimental value. In the event of a catastrophic loss, photographs will help determine the value of damaged fixtures, appliances, floors, and other parts of the structure covered by your policy.
• Homeowners are encouraged to hold onto repair receipts and save damaged items. For example, if a plumber repairs your busted pipe you should keep that section of the pipe showing where the split occurred.
• Make sure you are fully aware of what protection your insurance policy provides. For homeowner policies, find out if they offer building code upgrade and guaranteed replacement cost coverage. Homeowners may not have adequate protection against catastrophic damage if their policy’s limits translate into higher out-of-pocket costs.
• Report losses to your insurance company as soon as possible so they can assist you with emergency or temporary repairs. Immediate reporting of losses allows the claims adjuster to investigate the damage before repairs are completed or items are replaced. Claims filed after repairs are made or items are replaced can result in delays for receiving reimbursement from your insurance company.
• Claims adjusters are working as quickly as possible to respond to members who have damage to their properties, but keep in mind, hazardous road conditions may cause some delays. Local agencies, such as fire departments, can assist with shutting off water to homes, if needed.
AAA Texas Recommendations for Vehicle Maintenance After Winter Storm
The extreme cold weather can have a big impact on vehicles throughout Texas, paving the way for breakdowns in the weeks and months ahead. When harsh winter weather is in the rearview mirror, AAA Texas recommends the following to prevent costly repairs down the road:
• Wash your car or truck — Give the entire vehicle, including the undercarriage, a thorough cleaning after the snow and ice melts. Any deposits left over from winter weather can continue to cause corrosion year-round. The more you drive your car in the winter, the more the salt will stick to it – specifically to the undercarriage, wheel wells, and brakes. What you need to do is wash your car after a winter blast. Do not wipe the salt down, so as not to scratch the paint on your vehicle.
• Tires — For optimum performance, tires must have adequate tread depth, show no signs of physical damage and be properly inflated. As the air in your tires gets colder, it contracts and has less pressure. Tires correspondingly become underinflated. With more potholes on the road after winter weather, properly inflated tires can act as a cushion to protect your vehicle’s suspension components.
• Windshield wiper blades — Cold temperatures are hard on rubber compounds, making early spring a good time to check or replace the blades if necessary.
• Fluids — Check all fluids and top off as necessary. Winter driving conditions require your engine to work harder, and condensation can cause moisture to buildup in the engine that can create wear.
• Air Filter — The air filter is an integral part of your engine’s performance, and AAA recommends motorists change them with every oil change.
• Interior — This maintenance can include washing floor liners, vacuuming the carpets, and checking the cabin air filter.
Battery — A car battery loses a third of its power in freezing weather. As the air outside cools, the oil in your car thickens. Parts move slower and your battery must use more power to turn over and start the engine. Have your battery and charging system checked for optimal performance, especially If a battery is more than three years old and before a long road trip.
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