Fire can cause catastrophic devastation to one’s property, and what remains after the smoke clears may be a pile of ash as a claim for the insured. While the fire itself can be a lifechanging experience for the worse, your insurance claim doesn’t have to be. When navigating the intricacies of fire damage claims, it’s important to know some of the key tips that can ensure a smooth claim process. Here’s what to do after the smoke clears when filing your fire damage insurance claim.
Immediately After the Fire
After the fire has subsided and been exterminated, firefighters will need to assess the area for safety. These fire responders are responsible for giving you the ‘all clear’ on your property, which means that you’re able to safely begin to navigate the area. At this point, you’ll take you first steps back into the affected areas and can begin to reclaim your items. Run through the following checklist:
Insurance Company Review
Contact your insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claims process. Be present during all inspections, and DO NOT dispose of any debris or items without having your insurance company review. Keep in mind that investigators will often question and challenge the cause of the fire, the items lost in the fire, and the building components. Each of these aspects can become fuel for insurance companies to not pay the full claim amount, so this is where it pays to be diligent in your records and reports.
Inventory and Report
Keep in mind that your insurance adjustor will likely take photos, but do not solely rely on these. Instead, take your own photos and videos of the situation and items, even if they’re being disposed of. Inventory everything, and always keep receipts for items that need repaired along with a photo of the item. Pay special attention to items with a serial number, and take photos for insurance purposes of the item’s serial number.
Some insurance companies pressure their policyholders to provide an initial list of items damaged or destroyed, promising those policyholders that additional items can be added later. Be sure to shrug off the pressure and take your time with your list, as insurance companies are notorious for arguing in court for the claim values on the first list rather than the amended final list, noting that the policyholder would or should have remembered certain high-value items initially.
At the end of the day, it pays to consult with a professional. Protect yourself by being prepared, and ensure that your adjustor pays for 100% of your claim. These tips for fire damage are just a short list, but they’re necessary steps when dealing with fire damage claims.