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There is nothing easy about dealing with the aftermath of a fire. You have to find a place for you and your family to stay, begin the process of recovering emotionally from the ordeal, and initiate the insurance claim process so that you can start to rebuild and recover.
It’s a lot to manage all at once and a tough time to start dealing with the complex paperwork and demands of an insurance claim. If you’re not sure what to do after a fire in your house, these steps can help guide you.
#1 Contact Your Insurance Company
One of the first things you should do is contact your insurance company. You will have to formally file your claim in writing later, but for now, alert the company to the loss in whatever way you can.
Don’t delay; most insurance contracts require homeowners to inform the insurer about the loss in a timely manner. Contacting them now can also help get the ball rolling, and the insurer may be able to provide a cash advance to help you pay for a hotel or get a rental.
#2 Request and Review Your Long-Form Policy
Your long-form policy contains all of the details of your insurance coverage. Request it from your insurance company now so that you can review it. If you feel like the insurance company isn’t offering you a fair settlement, you can turn to your long-form policy to find out what you should be entitled to. It will contain crucial information such as:
- Who is insured and what address is insured;
- The details of your Structure, Additional Living Expenses, and Contents insurance, including how your insurance settlement will be calculated;
- Whether your premiums are paid in full;
- The deductible amounts you will have to pay before your coverage kicks in;
- Your coverage limits.
#3 Take Photos of the Damage
Once the fire department clears your home as safe for re-entry, go in and take your own photos or video of the damage before the clean-up begins. Should a disagreement arise with the insurance adjuster about the extent of the damage or repairs that need to be made, it can help to have your own personal documentation for future reference.
#4 Document Your Lost Belongings
A significant part of your insurance claim will be replacing belongings lost to the fire. You may be surprised just how much you need to replace, and you will constantly be remembering items that you forgot, whether they’re kitchen appliances or articles of clothing.
If you kept a home inventory and kept it up to date, this step will be much easier. If not, be sure to take your time and don’t let the insurance company pressure you into signing off on an incomplete list.
#5 Keep Track of Your Expenses
Part of your insurance claim will cover the additional costs you face while your home is being repaired. This includes your stay in a hotel in the immediate aftermath, renting an apartment or a house, as well as added transportation, food, and storage costs.
Hold on to your receipts to prove the expenses. It also helps to keep track to make sure you stick to your budget and keep costs within your coverage limits.
These tips can help make the insurance claims process go more smoothly.