Avoid being shortchanged by your insurance company after a fire destroys your house. Knowing how insurance companies respond to fire damage claims will help you satisfy their requirements and maximize your payout.
insurancepublicadjustersofgeorgia.com gathered information about what to do after a fire burns down your house and how to work with your insurance company through the claim process.
What To Do After A House Fire
A house fire can leave you feeling completely lost. Once you have moved your loved ones to safety, consider the following:
Contact Your Insurance Agent – The sooner you contact your insurance agent, the faster you can start the claim process and attend to your immediate needs.
Your insurance agent may have valuable information regarding emergency resources in your area. Likewise, you will need to answer a series of questions to launch the claim process.
Secure Your Property – Insurance policies require that you take reasonable measures to minimize harm to your property. Once the fire is out, the following may need to be done to prevent further damage or vandalism:
- Make sure the fire is out. If it is still smoldering, call the fire department to prevent the fire from reigniting
- Board up your property to keep people out
- Put up a fence around the property
Neglecting your property after a house fire can result in the cancellation of your insurance policy or the denial of your insurance claim.
Find A Safe Place To Stay – Whether you temporarily move your family to a hotel or to a relative’s, observe the following while you are displaced from your home:
- Keep receipts for all of your expenses (lodging, food, clothing, cleaning supplies, etc.)
- If you stay with a relative or a friend, have them detail expenses for your lodging, food, and other amenities they provide for you
If you are unable to secure lodging for yourself and your family, call the American Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), military families should call the Red Cross at 1-877-272-7337, or you can leave a message for the Salvation Army Referral Help Desk (online) with your contact information at centralusa.salvationarmy.org/metro/referral-desk/
Get A Copy of Your Fire Report – Whenever emergency services respond to a situation, a report is generated. In this instance, a fire report will be created that shows:
- The time and date of the incident
- The condition of the house when first responders arrived at the scene
- An incident number
Fire reports are generally public documents. To get a copy of yours, reach out to the responding fire department or fire marshall.
In some instances, your fire report may be coupled with a police report. If this is the case, reach out to your local police department.
You may need to reach out to the fire department’s billing agency. In some areas, the fire report may be required to accompany the fire department’s bill.
Address Your Finances – Even if your home was completely destroyed in a fire, you would be required to make your monthly payments.
Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the value of your home and mortgage. Upon approval of your claim, your insurance company will make payments to you and your mortgage lender. Pay the bank first and use any remaining money for rebuilding or purchasing a new home.
Your homeowners insurance typically covers the replacement costs of damaged possessions in the home. It is helpful to keep an inventory of your belongings that includes:
- Date of purchase
- Cost at purchase
- Item description
If your car was damaged in the fire, continue making your payments and activate your auto insurance policy for damages and repairs.
If your credit cards and loan agreements were lost in the fire, contact each issuing agency for replacement cards and documentation.
Dealing With Your Insurance Company
Your insurance provider is only going to pay what you claim. Often, insurance payouts or settlements are for less than the claim(s) amount due to discrepancies, withheld information, or conflicting assessments of the damages or repair estimates.
To receive the full amount of your claim (as allowed by your policy), you must attend to the following:
- Contact your insurance provider immediately after a house fire
- Answer any and all questions from your agent to the best of your knowledge
- Provide a fire report and any other documentation requested by your insurance company
- Provide accurate documentation for all covered expenses
- Secure an estimate to rebuild your home
If you feel that your insurance provider is attempting to underpay your claim or simply deny it, hire a public adjuster to negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf.
What To Do After Your House Burns Down
In this article, you discovered what needs to be done after a fire destroys your home and how to deal with your insurance company throughout the claim process.
By knowing what to do when your house burns down, you can protect and replace your assets and secure the wellbeing of your family.
Not following the instructions and guidance of your insurance company after a house fire can result in the cancellation of your claim and catastrophic financial loss.
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