A house fire is traumatic, and is an extremely devastating and stressful experience. A house fire that destroys all of your belongings is especially hard to deal with. Since fires are always unexpected, most people don’t know where to turn afterwards.
In this article we have outlined some of the important steps you should take as soon as possible after a fire, in order to keep stress to a minimum and your finances intact.
Find a Place to Stay
Many evacuees stay with friends or family. Even though you probably aren’t paying your hosts, you may be able to have your insurance company to reimburse them for costs associated with having you. Try to have your hosts itemize the value of the room they are providing you with. Be reasonable and be prepared to negotiate with your insurance company.
Contact Your Insurance Company
One of the first things you should do, after arranging for a place to stay, is to contact your insurance company. It’s essential to file a claim as soon as possible to find out what is covered and what you will be reimbursed for, including expenses you incur while you are displaced.
Keep Track of Living Expenses
Your insurance policy should include a clause called “loss of use.” This entitles you to reimbursement for some living expenses. Keep in mind though, that you will probably only be entitled to additional living expenses; the difference between what it normally cost you to live on a daily basis in your home and what it costs now. If you spent $1200 monthly on groceries, and are now spending $1600 per month at restaurants, you will only be able to claim $400.
If you are staying in a motel, you will probably be able to claim the entire thing. However, you still have to pay your mortgage, taxes, and insurance. If you are planning on selling your home, it’s a good idea to do this sooner, rather than later so you can start putting your money towards a new home as soon as possible.
If you don’t have fire insurance, there are still options for you. Some people choose to get a loan and renovate the house, however this is usually expensive and often the smell of smoke still lingers even after the renovation. Depending on the extent of the damage, it may be wise to sell your house and use the money as a down payment on a new home. This gives you an opportunity to start over, and you can rest assured knowing that any money you spend will be on your new home, and you won’t be risking any financial loss on repairs.