HOUSTON - Some homeowners tell us they're facing delays and unreturned phone calls after filing insurance claims to repair damage in their homes from the ice storm.
We've heard complaints from two customers of Wellington Insurance Group, and see some similar concerns posted on review sites, saying their insurance claims have stalled, leaving them with damaged homes and unanswered calls.
"When he got there, he saw water pouring out of the front door. It was rushing out down the front," said Chelby Gilchrist of their Houston home after the winter freeze.
Gilchrist says seven pipes burst in four rooms. They had to rip out walls to prevent mold. She says a Wellington adjuster came out to the house after they filed a claim.
But more than a week later, she tells us, "I call him, he doesn't answer. He ends up calling me back to tell me we've been reassigned to Beth. So I got her information and just called her every day and no answer, no response."
Homeowner's insurance attorney Eric Dick says state law gives insurance companies 30 days in a disaster to accept or reject a claim.
"You do want to follow up, you want to create a paper trail. I would discourage from phone calls. I would encourage through email or fax," said Dick.
Dick says get three or four estimates from contractors, in case your insurer offers a lower amount.
He says mitigate further damage in the house, but talk with your insurer before starting major repairs.
"If you haven't given the insurance company notice of doing the repairs, that could cause an issue in the future. They can try to deny you, saying they didn't have the time to inspect it," said Dick.
That has Gilchrist and her husband waiting to start repairs.
"It's more frustrating to find somewhere to stay. Find who we're going to stay with, where can we take our dog," said Tony Banks, Gilchrist's husband.
Dick says if an insurance claim is not being processed in a timely fashion, you can file a complaint with the Texas Department of Insurance or consult an attorney.
We reached out to Wellington, which has since met with Gilchrist again and sent us this statement:
"We understand customers impacted by Winter Storm Uri desire an immediate claim investigation. Wellington Claim Service, Inc. and its field inspectors are working tirelessly to meet this expectation. Undoubtedly, high claim volume and COVID complications may result in some delays. Customers may contact Wellington at any time to submit a claim or inquire about a claim status at 800-880-0474."
Wellington has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.