Climate change impacts us in various ways. The increasingly dry air and high temperatures make Atlanta one of the fastest-warming cities in the United States. One byproduct of this global phenomenon is a higher risk of wildfires.
Like the Bugaboo Scrub Fire and Honey Prairie Fire, recent wildfires have resulted in catastrophic damage across Georgia. If you or your loved ones fall victim to a fire, you can use insurance to seek relief. Here are five ways to recover after a fire.
Tip #1 – File Your Claim Right Away
The sooner you talk with your insurance company, the better. The representatives will work with you to get your life back to a new normal. Additionally, all home insurance policies require the property owner to report damage as soon as reasonably possible.
You can get started by calling or emailing your insurance agent. They will walk you through the process of submitting your claim. The agent will also contact a public adjuster to begin looking into the property damage, if necessary.
Remember that other homeowners likely suffered losses during the wildfire, too. If you delay filing your claim, you may find yourself at the bottom of the priority list. After the danger passes, it’s in your best interest to contact your insurance company immediately.
Tip #2 – Document Everything
Once you’re safe, begin documenting the scene. In a perfect world, you should have “before” pictures, too. That way, insurance adjusters can compare the damage before and after the incident.
Take extensive pictures of your home. A mixture of close-up and wide shots will capture the magnitude of the damage. It doesn’t hurt to record videos while documenting the loss.
Once you finish capturing evidence, secure the property. Homeowner insurance policies require people to minimize harm to the scene. For example, if your home is still burning after the fire, contact the local fire department to handle the flare-ups.
You may need to board up your home to prevent vandalism and theft. You can also erect a chain-link fence to keep out any unwanted intruders. Depending on your situation, consider keeping a close eye on your home to prevent any future disturbances. The last thing you need is vandals or thieves tampering with evidence while independent adjusters and insurers are working on your claim.
If you haven’t done so already, make sure you have access to the following documents:
– Driver’s license and government-issued IDs
– Birth certificates
– School transcripts
– Married, divorce, and death certificates,
– Medical records
– Health insurance policies
– Last will and testament
– Title, deed, and mortgage information
– Automobile insurance and titles
– Medicals records for your pets
Tip #3 – Understand Your Policy
If you haven’t looked at your insurance policy in a while, now’s the time to do so. Determine how your insurance provider will cover your losses so that you can prepare moving forward. Many companies cover 20% more than the value of the policy.
For example, the insurance company says your home has a $350,000 replacement value. In this case, you’d receive a maximum of $420,000. If you disagree with the assessment, you can:
1) Hire a public adjuster
2) Consult with a lawyer
3) Contact the State of Georgia’s insurance department
4) Contact your insurance company’s consumer relations department
Tip #4 – Track Your Living Expenses
Insurance policies include a “loss of use” clause. Since you can’t live in your home, your insurance provider will compensate you for living expenses in the meantime. Make sure to save all your receipts so that you can file for reimbursement instead of paying these costs out of pocket.
Insurance companies only cover additional living expenses. That amount represents the difference between your pre-fire ordinary daily expenses and your current expenditures. For instance, you may spend $200 per week on groceries. Now, you spend $400 at restaurants because of the wildfire, allowing you to claim $200 in compensation.
Tip #5 – Hire an Insurance Public Adjuster
Negotiating with an insurance company can be daunting. If you want someone to protect your best interests, hire licensed public adjusters. They will work to settle your disputes and maximize the compensation from your insurance policy.
An insurance adjuster takes the time to review all the evidence you have available. They’ll build a persuasive case to ensure that you receive the money that you deserve. That way, you can hold your insurer accountable for paying you the proper sum.
Get in Touch with Insurance Public Adjusters of Georgia
Our firm, Insurance Public Adjusters of Georgia, has assisted victims of wildfires in Georgia for many years. We understand how to handle and settle all sizes of property loss claims. We will work with you to collect the money you deserve to return to life as usual.
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Insurance Public Adjusters of Georgia
1100 Peachtree St NE, Ste 200a
Atlanta, GA 30309