San Antonio's Deep Freeze Turned Me From State Farm Agent To Customer With One Huge Claim
Last week, amid historic temperatures and snow, I became a part of my own work story. Like the customers I serve on the daily, I found myself in trouble. My family needed help and we needed it fast. As San Antonio began to thaw out of the deep freeze that shut down the city and left homes without power and then water, a pipe in my own home burst.
Worse part, I wasn’t even there when it broke.
Like many, our home was without running water for several days. The water company had shut off water to most of San Antonio and the surrounding areas. We were coping. Grudgingly. We could not wait, mostly my wife Lisa could not wait, for hot, clean, glorious water to return.
It did. And in a disastrous way. And we most certainly weren't ready for it.
Instead, when water was finally restored to our home, we weren't in it. Instead, our family was at a friend's place, showering, actually.
A neighbor called me breaking the news. It went something like this except with a few expletives:
Neighbor: Jaime! There’s water pouring down the street and it’s coming from your home.
Me: You’ve got to be kidding.
Neighbor: No, man. I'm looking at it right now. I can see your back flow is broken.
Kindly, our incredible neighbor attempted to shut off the main power to the water for our home. But it continued to run a little. When Lisa and I returned home and opened our front door there was no guessing what had happened. Eyes fixated on a wet ceiling, water had seeped through the ceiling and all over our dining room. It covered our wood floors. It soaked our formal dining room furniture, chairs, and a favorite rug. Water was even running down the walls into our kitchen pantry.
It was bad.
At this moment, I morphed from Jaime Luna, husband and father to Jaime Luna, State Farm Insurance Agent. Earlier in the day at work I had filled out dozens of water claims for customers taking in the same disastrous view as me. So when I initially saw water leaking from our light fixture I knew exactly what had happened. Quicker than I ran the bases during my baseball prime, I ran to the attic. Sure enough, I discovered a small hose connected to the hose bib, busted and leaking water right through the ceiling of my much-loved home.
I mean, this hurts. It is painful to see this image as both a homeowner and agent.
But there was absolutely no time to sulk. I had to take action. So here’s what I did and what you should do too should you ever find yourself in bursting pipe purgatory:
Turn off main water line.
Walk the rest of the home to see if there’s more damage.
Start looking for a restoration company.
Take photos. A ton of them. I even FaceTime’ed with my plumber which helped him make important determinations.
Call your insurance agent. You will need him or her.
When you call your agent, be sure to give the person a very detailed description of the damage. Do not leave out anything. Go through what you see like it’s a movie in slow motion. Be that specific. And here’s why. Your agent will likely rank the claim based on how serious it sounds according to your account. High priority claims will get a 1. Lesser-seeming losses will receive a higher number, moving the claim towards the end of the line. And in the wake of a disaster, you want to be as close to first in line to receive help as possible.
My claim, like a big majority of the claims filed by San Antonio residents due to the winter storm is classified as a water loss claim. There’s good news and bad news with this. The good news is that most home policies cover something like a sudden pipe burst. The bad news, however, is that if your policy does not include a water damage endorsement, which is like an add-on in a way, repercussions such as damaged drywall won’t be covered.
Another policy item you may have in the event of damage or losses in connection with pipes bursting or other causes of a major water claim is money for hotels should you need to stay outside of your home for an extended length of time. Food and gas milage, the difference between what you usually spend or travel for example, may be covered. These are expenses not everything thinks about when discussing the what if’s in the case of a disaster.
So really reviewing a home policy and zero’ing in on endorsements, the so-called extras and those items that can make a worse-case scenario just a little more tolerable.
Should you not have endorsements, a good policy with a trustworthy company should offer you coverage for the basic big items. This is huge when you’re talking about a water claim.
I can verify that. My one pipe that burst caused an estimated 25-thousand dollars in damage!
From floors to content items like furniture to drywall and major structural issues, these items will be covered by my insurance, State Farm. All I have to pay is my deductible.
Most people’s deductible is 1% of the home value. Your trusted agent should walk you through the comparison and answer every question, large and small, you may have.
As an agent myself, I was fortunate to have already been familiar with the claims process in the event of home damage resulting from a sudden disaster. But I did have my own “ah-ha” moment. I realized just how important it is to have a network of people in place whom your family can reach out to in an instant. People whom you already know, trust, and have experience with. This is everything from family or friends whom you can leave the kids with should you need to focus your immediate energy and thoughts on remedying the disaster to a plumber, restoration company, pool company and others. If you already have a good relationship with that company or person it can be a game-changer in the rush to get your home habitable and comfortable again. If you’re in good with a plumber and the company knows you well they’ll likely bump you up to the front of line for service.
Another thing to keep in mind is to try to have patience. San Antonio’s Snowvid 2021 was historic. Heck, I don’t even own a snow shovel before last week. But you can bet I will now. And while Lisa and I have a good several weeks ahead of us that will be slightly uncomfortable, should we not have had insurance we'd be a lot more uncomfortable.
With a little planning, some patience and a lot of perseverance we will make it. Together. As homeowners. As business owners. As city leaders, and as the super heroes in all of this - the plumbers, restoration companies and insurance agents. Together as a team, we will make make it. Having a really good insurance agent and a solid home protection plan in place just makes it all a little better.