Fires both big and small can be an emotional and financial ordeal. Not every fire results in a total loss, but even a small fire can result in extensive smoke damage and costly repairs.
The task of fire restoration can feel like a daunting one. Witnessing a fire in your home or the damage done by one may be a wrenching experience, but homeowners must still act quickly when it comes to filing a fire insurance claim and getting the rebuilding process underway.
Taking the right next steps can make the fire insurance claims process much easier and protect you from unnecessary financial loss.
Step 1: Contact Your Insurer
The first step when making your claim should be contacting your insurer. Any delay can quickly become an issue and even put your coverage at risk.
Due to the nature of soot and smoke damage, as well as further risks to a home that has suffered through a fire, delays can result in further damage and higher costs.
Contact your insurer immediately by phone, and then initiate your claim in writing.
Step 2: Document Your Losses
As part of the fire insurance claims process, you will also want to document the full extent of the property damage, including lost belongings.
In total losses, there may be little to no evidence of lost belongings, even major items like furniture and electronics. It’s up to the homeowner to compile a list of all of these belongings. They may also need to include proof of ownership, such as receipts.
It’s important for homeowners to be entirely honest when they document their lost belongings. Any misrepresentation could end up with them losing coverage for any property damage.
At this stage, it may make sense to enlist the help of an insurance lawyer who looks after your interests in the claims process. Search for a property damage lawyer near me to locate a professional who can assist with your insurance claim.
Step 3: Make Sure the Adjuster Performs a Thorough Inspection
Next, the insurance company will send an insurance adjuster to inspect your home. When they do, make sure the adjuster performs a thorough inspection and sees the full extent of the damage. Key areas of inspection include:
- Damage to the roof and exterior walls
- Interior walls and frames, which can also develop mold after firefighting efforts
- Damage done to wiring, plumbing, and heating systems
- Discoloration or warping in windows
- Spalling, discoloration or cracking in the foundation.
When the fire department says it’s safe to enter, you may want to document your own tour of the property by taking a video or photos of the damage.
Step 4: Review the Insurer’s Offer
Once you have submitted all of your documentation, the insurance adjuster will send the insurance company their assessment and based on that they will make you an offer.
It’s now your job to review the details of that offer to determine whether it’s fair. If there are obvious expenses missing, that can wind up costing you out-of-pocket.
When it comes to major claims, you may want the assistance of an insurance lawyer for this step. They can also assist you earlier on in the process and make it much easier, but even if you have not hired them earlier, they can still be essential at this stage.