Experiencing a house fire can leave homeowners feeling overwhelmed and devastated. The aftermath can be a challenging and emotional time, but knowing the right steps to take can make a significant difference in the recovery process.
In this blog, we’ll provide valuable advice on what to do and not do after a house fire to ensure a smoother path to recovery and a successful insurance claim.
House Fire Dos & Don’ts
After a house fire, keeping you and your family safe is the most important thing to do. Wait for the authorities to let you enter the property and be careful. There might be things like weakened floors, structural damage, and other hazards. To protect yourself, wear masks and gloves so that you don’t breathe in harmful particles, soot, or debris.
Contact Your Insurance Company
Tell your insurance company right away. They will guide you through the claims process and inform you about the coverage you have. Be prepared to provide a detailed account of the events leading up to and during the fire, as well as a list of damaged or destroyed items. Write down everything that happens, including what you talk about with the insurance company and any money you spend fixing things.
Any time you speak with an adjuster, agent, or anyone else about your policy, your coverage, or the meaning of any wording in your policy, make sure to get everything in writing. Additionally, make sure to document all the damages in writing and with pictures before moving any of the debris. It’s important to make sure to get detailed descriptions of everything with pictures if possible, this will help further back your insurance claim.
Secure the Property
Take necessary measures to secure your property and prevent further damage. Your insurance policy may require you to mitigate additional losses, so consider boarding up broken windows, covering damaged roofs, and protecting the property from weather elements. Keep records of these temporary repairs and receipts for expenses, as they can be reimbursable as part of your claim.
Hire Professional Help
Hire a qualified board-up/mitigation contractor to cover the structure’s doors, windows, roof, and other openings to prevent future damage.
Get Contractor Recommendations
Obtain suggestions for contractors and request free estimates on damages or restorations. Interview a variety of contractors before selecting one. This is one thing you don’t want to be casual about because you want these damages taken care of the right way.
Work with a Public Adjuster
Consider hiring a reputable public adjuster to advocate on your behalf during the insurance claim process. A skilled public adjuster can help ensure you receive a fair settlement from your insurance company and navigate the complexities of the claims process. They can also handle the paperwork, negotiate with the insurance company, and provide expert guidance, which can be invaluable during this stressful time.
Here at Fortitude Public Adjusters, we promise to get you the coverage and settlement you deserve. Don’t let insurance companies walk away with what benefits them the most. Contact Fortitude Public Adjusters today to understand how we can help you out with a fire claim, or any claim process. Get your free consultation here.
Delay Contacting Insurance
Do not put off reporting the loss to your insurance company or carrying out any obligations required by your homeowner’s insurance policy. In fact, you should contact your insurance asap before even touching any debris. The longer you wait to report, the harder it may be to get a claim processed and accepted. There may also be a legal obligation within your insurance policy that requires you to report within a certain timeline.
Don’t Discard Damaged Items
Resist the urge to throw away damaged items immediately after the fire. Your insurance company may want to inspect the items or assess the extent of the damage before processing your claim. Take photos and videos of the damaged belongings as evidence for your insurance claim.
Don’t Let Restorations Companies Start Right Away
Don’t just accept the contractors your insurance adjuster suggests. You are not required to use their recommendations. Companies frequently have a working connection with company-approved contractors, who will carry out repairs in accordance with the adjuster’s estimate. That can make it more difficult for you to get your house fixed up the way you want.
Don’t Rush into Settlements
Avoid rushing into accepting the first settlement offer from your insurance company, especially if you think it might not adequately cover all your losses. Take your time to assess the full extent of the damages, including hidden damages that may not be immediately apparent. If you’re uncertain about the settlement, consult with a public adjuster or legal counsel.
Don’t Overlook Additional Living Expenses
If your home is uninhabitable after the fire, your insurance policy may cover additional living expenses (ALE). ALE helps you with the costs of temporary accommodation, meals, and other necessary expenses while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. Remember to keep all receipts and records of these expenses to include in your claim.
Don’t Neglect Contractor Research
Wait to decide which items can be cleaned or replaced before letting a restoration company remove and restore damaged personal items. Prematurely relinquishing control may result in settlement funds being wasted on repairs rather than replacements.
Don’t Attempt to Clean Everything Yourself
While it’s natural to want to clean up and salvage what you can after a fire, avoid trying to clean heavily damaged items yourself. Soot, smoke, and other residues can be toxic, and improper cleaning techniques could worsen the damage. Leave the cleaning and restoration of valuable items to professionals who have the expertise and equipment to handle the job safely and effectively.