If your home has been damaged by fire there are 10 things you should begin doing right away to ensure a fast and accurate settlement.
In this short article, we are going to explain these 10 steps. Don’t expect to get this information from your insurance company!
When it comes to house fires, most insurance companies prefer to keep policy holders in the dark as much as possible. That’s because filing a fire insurance claim can be a complex process and the less a homeowner knows about that process the better chance of a more favorable settlement for the insurance company.
So don’t blindly follow your insurance agent!
Read articles like this to get informed so that you can take the steps you need to take to get the money you deserve.
Now here are the 10 steps you need to know when filing a fire insurance claim for your damaged home.
#1 – Get accurate damage estimates (more than one)
You should contact at least three different contractors or restoration companies. Have each submit bids for the work but do not sign any work order contracts.
Having multiple bids allows you to get a much clearer understanding of the fire damage your house has sustained.
Armed with this information you will be much better able to properly assess the insurance company’s settlement offer.
Here is something else to keep in mind: if your fire-damaged house is a total loss you may be eligible for a settlement up to 35% above policy limits! Contact a trusted public adjuster or talk to your insurance agent to learn more.
#2 – Don’t restore personal property … yet
Allowing a restoration company to clean and restore personal property can cost you thousands of dollars in a settlement award. You need to first document all the damage and make sure the insurance company is aware of that damage. Please keep in mind that fees for cleaning smoke and fire damage are deducted from the total amount of the claim, even if the cleaning was not successful – so you also need to be very careful about who you select to do the work.
#3 – Inventory your personal property
A key thing you need to do to ensure you receive compensation for everything that you should is to compile an inventory of all the property damaged in the fire. One way to do this is to go room by room with your spouse and try to remember everything that was there before the fire. If you have trouble remembering everything, wait a few days and then go back and do the process over.
#4 – Keep detailed records
You should keep detailed records from the beginning of the claims process to the end. One way to do this is to keep a daily diary where each day you enter anything that has happened regarding your claim. You should also keep all receipts and copies of all documents submitted to and received from the insurance company.
#5 – Consider asking for a claim advance
One thing that many homeowners are not aware of during the process of filing a fire insurance claim for a damaged home is that you can request a claim advance to pay for living essentials such as clothes, food and other necessities. You should contact the adjuster assigned to your case and make the request in writing. Most insurance companies grant this request and the amount awarded to you will then be deducted from the full final claim amount. Doing this can provide you with some much needed financial relief if you lost a lot in the fire.
#6 – Know when to seek help from a public adjuster
A public adjuster is an independent insurance professional that you can hire to help settle your fire claim. You may want to consider hiring one if any of the following occur: you receive a reservation of rights letter; your fire claim is ruled suspicious or is under investigation; you receive a demand to participate in an Examination Under Oath (EUO); or your fire claim is denied or underpaid.
#7 – Be very careful with your Proof of Loss
The Proof of Loss is a legal document that expresses your claims to the amount of smoke and fire damage sustained by your property. Most insurance companies require you to submit this document before they release your settlement money. You need to be extremely careful when completing the Proof of Loss. Any mistakes can delay settlement and even put your claim in jeopardy. Some Proof of Loss mistakes can even cause your claim to be denied! Be very careful and very accurate when completing this document.
#8 – Don’t stop paying your insurance premiums
One big reason to keep paying is that most insurance policies offer liability coverage which protects you against accidents and other damages that can occur at your fire damaged house. Many damaged houses attract trespassers. Maintaining your coverage helps protect you against someone else getting hurt on your property.
#9 – Be prepared to stand up for your rights
Insurance companies can’t cancel your claim unless they are able to prove fraud or material misrepresentation on your part. They also can’t pressure you to hire a certain contractor or discourage you from hiring a public adjuster. You should immediately report any suspicious behavior to your state’s Department of Insurance.
#10 – Stay calm
Filing a fire insurance claim for your damaged home can be a very stressful and frustrating process. Try to stay as calm as possible throughout as becoming stressed can lead to mistakes and can even harm your health. Some tips for reducing stress include: listening to relaxing music, exercising regularly, taking a cold shower, doing yoga, reading and meditating.
One More Thing:
Another stressful part of having a fire damaged house is selling the house. You may wonder if you should make repairs and if you do if you can get your money for those repairs back in the sales price?
You may also be concerned about the amount of time it typically takes to sell a fire damaged house.
One way to avoid this stress is to sell your house “as is” to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses. We offer fast, cash payments that allow you to get on with the rest of your life.
Just fill out the short form below to learn more and to see if you qualify for a cash offer on your home.