More and more people are dealing with the after-effects of a wildfire destroying their home.
In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency reports that since 1983 there has been an average of 70,000 wildfires a year!
But that’s not all; the EPA goes on to say that from looking at data compiled by the Forest Service the annual number of wildfires may be even higher than that already impressive figure.
For its part, the National Interagency Fire Center says that “from January 1 to October 12, 2021, there were 47,057 wildfires, compared with 45,635 in the same period in 2020.”
The NIFC adds that “6.5 million acres were burned through October 12, 2021, compared with 8.3 million during the same period in 2020. On October 12, nine states reported 45 large fires including Idaho, which had 14 fires and California with 10 fires.”
Top scientists are also now reporting that the number of wildfires that occur each year and the size of those fires are both increasing due to global climate change.
National Public Radio (NPR) says that “wildfires are burning more acres than ever before” and that “the nine largest wildfire seasons since reliable records begin have occurred since 2005.”
In other words, your chances of needing to know “what to do after a wildfire destroys my house” are increasing. So let’s learn a little more about wildfires and what you need to do if one burns your home.
What You Need to Know About Wildfires
The U.S. Department of the Interior says that “as many as 90 percent of wildfires in the United States are caused by people.”
Leading human causes of wildfires include: campfires that get out of control, intentional burning of debris, downed power lines, cigarette smoking and intentional acts of arson.
So if a wildfire occurs in the area where you live and ends up destroying your house, what should you do? Here are five steps to follow:
Step 1 – Contact Your Insurance Company
The main requirement of homeowners’ insurance policies is that you, the policyholder, promptly notify the company in the event of a fire so that its representatives can inspect all damaged property.
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.
Once you have that copy be sure to read the Conditions section, which can usually be found in the beginning of the policy. This section should contain a list of things you need to do in the event of a fire … be sure that you follow the list precisely.
Reporting quickly is also a good way to help ensure that the adjuster evaluates your claim in a timely manner. Often, claim adjusters may feel “under pressure” to evaluate a claim quickly. This allows the company to set its loss reserve and potential claim payout amounts.
In addition, contacting them quickly helps prevent the insurance company from arguing later that a delayed claim jeopardized their rights or led to a slow claims process.
Step 2 – Secure Your Property
The next step after reporting your claim is to secure your property. This means you should board up broken windows and burned doors to prevent entry into your home. You should also cover roof openings with a tarp.
You don’t want someone to wonder onto the property and get hurt. This could lead to a claim against you and make an already bad situation even worse.
Considering the amount of damage your burned house has sustained, you may be better of hiring a board-up/mitigation company. These companies pump out water, board-up openings and otherwise ensure that your property does not suffer additional damage.
Yes, you may be able to handle the situation yourself. However, it is always better to err on the side of caution. It would be a terrible thing to add a personal injury to the house damage already sustained in this situation.
Step 3 – Record Your Losses
Once you have secured your property and it has been deemed safe to enter, you can begin to really look at the damage and start cataloging your losses.
At this point, you should also consider having the physical property damage thoroughly inspected by a licensed third party professional.
Someone experienced with inspecting fire damaged houses will be able to spot damage that may not be visible to the naked eyes, like structural damage.
You can then use the inspector’s findings to determine if you want to repair the damage or sell the house. This is a big decision that you should not enter into lightly. Consider all the possibilities before making a decision.
Step 4 – Either Hire a Contractor …
If you are going to repair the damage, hire a contractor. Hiring the right contractor goes a long way in you getting back the house you love in a safe condition.
To find a good contractor, you can conduct extensive searches online. The contractor may have a website and there may also be websites for your area that contain contractor reviews and ratings.
One key to remember here: always have the contractor sign a contract!
When it comes to hiring a contractor for repairing a fire damaged house you should plan on having that contractor sign a contract.
This document creates a binding legal agreement. You promise to pay money to the contractor for the work that is agreed to be performed.
The contract provides you and the contractor with a crystal clear understanding of what is expected. The contractor knows in writing what work to do and you know in writing what amount to pay.
Step 5 – Or Sell Your Burned House
If you decide to sell instead of repair, We Buy Fire Damaged Houses specializes in buying burned homes and helping people who are wondering what to do after a wildfire destroys my house.
The truth is you may be very surprised at just how valuable your property is! At We Buy Fire Damaged Houses, we specialize in uncovering the true potential of homes damaged by fire.
You could then use the cash you receive from us along with your insurance settlement to finance your dream home! To learn more, including if you qualify for a free quote, fill out the short form below.