A house fire can be a traumatic, life-disrupting event. It can leave you stressed and shaken and not in the best mental state to be making decisions.
However, following a house fire there are important decisions that do need to be made. Here are some tips to help you avoid committing mistakes that can make the aftermath of a house fire even worse than it already is.
Mistake #1 – Not Reporting the Fire Promptly
All homeowners insurance policies require the policyholder to quickly notify the company after a house fire occurs. Reporting the fire promptly allows the company to inspect the damaged property in a timely manner.
It also offers other benefits such as:
- Helps create a sense of cooperation between you and the insurance agent
- Gets the claims process moving sooner
So as soon as possible after your fire, contact your insurance agent. When speaking with your agent either on the phone or in person you should also request a certified copy of your insurance policy, if your copy was damaged in the fire.
Mistake #2 – Not Securing the Fire-Damaged House
Another mistake homeowner’s commonly make is not securing the home after a fire.
If a home has been seriously damaged, it is easy to just leave it “as is” but the truth is you need to secure the home to prevent someone from wandering onto the site and getting injured.
To secure the home, you or a board-up/mitigation company that you hire should pump out water and board-up or place tarps over openings.
You should also notify local police that your home will be vacant to help prevent looting and break-ins.
Mistake #3 – Getting Frustrated During the Claims Process
The claims process following a house fire is certainly not quick and easy. However, it is important that you remain patient and do not grow frustrated.
Frustration is your enemy here as it can cause you to make bad decisions or to get into arguments with the insurance agent, which could prevent you from the getting the best and fastest settlement.
To make things simpler for you over the long run, you should attempt to stay as organized as possible throughout the claims process.
That means record or keep copies of all receipts, bills and contracts! You should also document all living expenses and any matters that come up regarding your house fire or the claims process.
Then keep all this information in one easy-to-access place. Don’t trust your insurance agent to take care of things for you or to keep track of all the paperwork. You need to do it!
Here are some additional things you should do:
- Take your own photographs of your damaged home and the damaged property inside it. You should also take photos as repairs are made
- Take notes and keep them whenever you talk to your insurance agent, the adjuster or anyone else involved in the process
- Keep a chronological log of meetings and phone calls you have with agents, adjusters, contractors and other involved in the process
- As we said earlier, keep all bills and receipts. Also never send an original bill to the insurance copy without keeping a copy for yourself
Mistake #4 – Not Taking Your Statement Seriously
Another common mistake for homeowners is not paying serious attention to the statement they are required to give following a house fire claim.
You can’t refuse to give a statement; it is required under your policy. If you refuse, it could trigger a declination of coverage or a mutual refusal to cooperate.
Since you have to give the statement, you should make sure that you are fully prepared. Conduct online research on the subject, practice your answers to questions, you may even want to speak to an insurance professional to get some expert advice.
However you prepare, you should be sure to enter the meeting calm and collected and committed to answering truthfully.
Don’t take the statement lightly and don’t let your emotions get the best of you when you are giving the statement!
Mistake #5 – Not Taking Some “Me Time”
You need to learn to minimize the damage that the house fire has caused in your life. This goes beyond physical damage to your house and includes how you are feeling mentally and physically.
Remember, when those around you are losing their heads, you need to keep yours.
Stabilizing the situation in a disaster is essential to reduce any further loss, injury or damage. Waiting to stabilize the situation can never be an option.
Sometimes taking the proactive action to stabilize a situation may upset some people, but it is what has to be done as soon as the shock of the disaster has passed.
What can you do to help stabilize your situation? Think about all of the following:
What do you need to do to stop the pain of the disaster from continuing any longer?
What resources do you have that can help you put an end to this situation?
Who do you know that could help you?
Who do you need to contact who could help you but whom you do not know right now, and how can you contact them?
Work quickly with a sense that things need to happen immediately.
Try to limit the damage to your life.
You must make every effort to limit the damage of your house fire disaster by going beyond the comfortable and taking extraordinary measures as soon as humanly possible. Do not wait to take that action.
Many disasters like a house fire are not anticipated. This can throw us into a state of shock and prevent us from taking action and moving forward.
That means you need to take steps to address your mental health. See a therapist, talk things out with your spouse or someone else you respect. Don’t try to “go it alone.”
How to Decide What to Do With Your House
Following a house fire, homeowners must decide whether they want to repair their home or move on. If you decide to sell your fire-damaged house and move on, We Buy Fire Damaged Houses pays all cash and buys burned homes in “as is” condition.
That means you can get your payment as fast as possible and move on with your life. To see if your home qualifies for a free quote, fill out the short form below.