Has your house been damaged by a fire? If so, we are truly sorry for your loss.
The National Fire Protection Association indicates that the chance of any house experiencing a fire in any given year is less than 1 percent. However, the NFPA also reports that a person’s chance of having a fire large enough to call the Fire Department at some point during their lifetime is one in four.
So it does happen – and when it does it is extremely unfortunate. In fact, house fires are much more common that a lot of people think.
From 2011 to 2015, U.S. fire departments reported an estimated of 358,500 residential home fires each year.
Those fires, by the way, resulted in 2,695 deaths, 12,000 injuries and property damage averaging $7 billion dollars.
The number one cause of house fires is cooking. Statistics indicate that cooking is responsible for 42% of fires, which is understandable considering the open flames on the stovetop and the intense heat that can be generated in the oven.
When do fires most often occur? They can happen at any time but they are most common in the winter months, particularly December and January. Officials have not only determined the most common months for house fires to occur but also the most common times of the day that they occur. Most fires occur on Saturday or Sunday between the hours of 6 p.m. and 7 p.m.
No matter when your house fire occurred, there are certain things that you need to do afterwards. We have covered five of those things below.
So If You Have Suffered a House Fire, What Should You Do Next?
The first step, after calling the fire department of course, is to contact your insurance agent.
Step 1 – Contact Insurance Agent
This is important to do because all insurance policies require the policyholder to notify the company immediately after a house fire so that it can inspect the damaged property.
Most insurance companies even offer a toll-free number that you can call at anytime, 24/7 to report a fire.
Reporting a fire immediately to your insurance company won’t just benefit them, it will also benefit you.
For example, it will get the process moving along so that your claim can be paid out as fast as possible.
Step 2 – Secure Your Property
After the fire has been extinguished and the fire department has left you will want to secure your property. This can include boarding up open areas like doors and windows and covering damaged areas with a tarp.
A word of caution: Don’t try to turn off utilities by yourself. The fire department should have handled that while they were at your house. If you have a question about something, contact them.
Step 3 – Get Familiar with Your Insurance Policy
One of the best ways to prepare yourself after a fire is to read your insurance policy thoroughly and, if you have any questions about it, call and ask your agent to clarify the issue.
In particular, you will want to read the Conditions section of the policy to better understand what is covered and what you need to do to comply with the policy.
If your policy was damaged in the fire, your agent will be able to provide you with another copy.
Step 4 – Have the Damage Inspected by an Expert
There should be inspectors in your area who specialize in dealing with fire damage. You will want to contact one and have him or her inspect your house so that you can fully understand the extent of damage sustained by your house.
Unfortunately, house fire damage often goes beyond what is just visible to the naked eye. For example, there could be unseen smoke damage to the property, including to the flooring, the walls, the furniture, the air ducts and more.
Smoke damage can be very difficult, and very expensive, to get rid of so you will need the opinion of an expert as to how much there is and what removing it will entail.
Smoke damage can also be hazardous to human and pet health so it will need to be removed, no matter the cost. That also means workers will need to be trained and have proper equipment to remove it, which will also be expensive.
Step 5 – Decide Whether to Rebuild or Sell
Once you have an understanding of the damage involved you can then make an informed decision as to whether to attempt to rebuild the home or to sell it and buy a new house.
Most homeowners opt to rebuild but many come to regret that decision due to the cost and difficulty that often come with the rebuilding process.
As we mentioned, not all house fire damage may be readily visible so when the rebuild process starts additional damage could be discovered. For example, maybe there is unseen structural damage or unseen air duct damage that must suddenly be accounted for.
The success of the rebuild process can also depend on the quality of the contractor hired. Many contractors fall behind schedule or use poorly trained workers who then make insufficient repairs.
You must be very careful in your selection of a contractor to ensure your house gets the proper repair work it needs. But if you select a high quality contractor who has a lot of jobs that could cause your project to fall behind schedule, particularly if they have a higher value project going on at the same time.
To select the best contractor, talk to your insurance agent and others who are “in the know.” You should also study the contractor’s website, read his or her testimonials and ask as many questions as you can.
Another Option to Rebuilding
Another option that more and more homeowners are choosing is to sell their house to a company like We Buy Fire Damaged Houses instead of going through the frustrating rebuild process.
We Buy Fire Damaged Houses has built a strong reputation in the marketplace for buying houses burned in a fire for a great price. You can then use the money from the sale to buy a new house.
To learn much more about We Buy Fire Damaged Houses or to talk to them about buying your fire damaged house, fill out the short form below.