The aftermath of a house fire can be a very stressful time. One of the most common worries of homeowners during this period is the insurance settlement.
You may wonder what the final settlement amount may be and if there is anything you can do to guarantee a better amount. Likewise, you might also worry if there are mistakes you can make
that would reduce your settlement. In this article, we are going to take a look at three common mistakes to avoid as well as provide some tips you can use to ensure the best settlement possible.
Mistake #1 – Not reporting your fire promptly.
This is a common mistake that many homeowners make and it can result in all sorts of problems during the settlement process.
You see, one requirement of practically all insurance policies is that the policyholder must promptly notify the company in the event of a fire.
Quickly reporting a fire has many benefits. It can speed up the settlement process. It can also get you and your insurance company working together as a team.
Not reporting the fire quickly can raise suspicion and also create more of a combative relationship with your insurance company. That is something you want to avoid if at all possible.
Remember, you “get more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Likewise, you may get a better settlement by working well with your insurance company as opposed to fighting with them and not doing the things that you are supposed to do.
That means, contact your insurance agent as soon as possible after the fire. In fact, one of your very first calls should be to your agent.
One more thing: when talking with your agent use that opportunity to request a certified copy of your insurance policy. Be sure to carefully read the Conditions section of that policy.
This section is usually found near the front of the policy and includes a list of the steps you need to take following a fire. Follow this list step by step.
Remember, filing a delayed claim can allow the insurance company to argue later that their rights were jeopardized or that the late filing led to a slow claims process.
Mistake #2 – Not telling the truth in your statement.
Giving a statement to the insurance company following a fire is a requirement of most insurance policies.
When giving your statement be sure to “tell the truth and nothing but the truth.” Resist the urge to exaggerate or to draw conclusions on your own. Speak honestly and tell exactly what you know to be true about the fire.
Another factor that can interfere with the accuracy of a statement is stress. To combat stress about giving a statement, you may want to research house fires and insurance statements. You may also want to practice your answers to common questions. You could also speak to an insurance professional about the best way to deliver your statement.
You cannot refuse to give a statement – most insurance policies require them. So improve your knowledge about them and practice to
ensure that you give the best possible statement when the time comes.
Mistake #3 – Not negotiating the settlement.
Another frequent mistake homeowners make following a house fire is immediately accepting the first settlement offer.
This is understandable because the settlement process is tiring and stressful and many homeowners come to a point where they just want it to be over.
But accepting the first settlement offer can be a mistake for a number of reasons, including:
- Fire damage can go unnoticed and lead to difficult, more expensive repairs later on
- Depreciation guidelines are negotiable. That means if a claim settlement is lowered due to depreciation, you may want to see what is possible before accepting the offer
- A claims adjuster’s opinion on damages is just that – an opinion. You can offer a contractor’s opinion in rebuttal.
- Adjusters use software programs and parts resources to estimate materials cost, if the price of those materials rises before the repairs are made your settlement could be too low
To help you with the negotiation process, here are some tips:
Tip #1 – Be willing to compromise
Being inflexible can ultimately lead to poor negotiation results. Sometimes you need to be willing to compromise by altering your plan just enough to make the other party happy to also get what you want.
The key to accomplishing this is to be fair and humble, yet immune to aggressive negotiators who may try to take more than they are willing to give.
Compromise is an important skill in any negotiation, but giving and taking just enough may be all that it takes with an agent to get the settlement amount you believe you deserve.
Tip #2 – Do not act desperate
If you appear desperate to make a deal work, then the other party may sense that and try to take advantage of you. When in negotiations, try to maintain a cool detachment as if you can take an offer or leave it on a whim.
Do not allow frustration, impatience, or a lack of confidence to influence you and the way you are speaking. Try to stick to the facts and figures.
Tip #3 – Be diplomatic
Sometimes when negotiating the other party can be pushy, overbearing, or even condescending. If you are tempted to get angry, annoyed, or insulted, it is important that you stay calm.
Keep your eyes on the prize of getting the best possible settlement and then being able to move on with your life.
Combine your settlement with cash!
Selling your fire damaged house to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses can allow you to combine your settlement with cash so that you are able to buy an even better replacement home.
By selling to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses you will not only avoid a stressful repair process (we buy as is) but you can receive your payment right away so that you can move on with your life in a much quicker fashion.
There isn’t an easier or faster way to get over a house fire than by selling to We Buy Fire Damaged Houses. Fill out the form below to see if your burned home qualifies for a free quote.