August 15, 2016

How to handle fire damage

When you’re faced with a fire in your home, the last thing you want to think about is the insurance company. Unfortunately, it is a necessary evil. However, there is something you can do: you can prepare. While a house fire is not necessarily inevitable, having the knowledge of how to handle fire damage may very well come in handy one day.

Prepare for the worst case scenario

The first step to preparing for a life-altering fire is to educate yourself on fire prevention and protection. Most of these strategies involve utilizing common sense, but you never know what you may be forgetting, so be sure to be aware if you are creating hazards in your home.

If you do find yourself a victim of a fire and you need to file a claim with your insurance company, you’ll need to be crystal clear about the items you own and their value. Make sure you know what you own, and make sure you’ll be able to provide proof of ownership and proof of their value. This means collecting receipts, photos, and any other documents that you might submit to the insurance company.

Timing is of great importance, as well. Collect evidence of anything you may claim once a year. Take pictures of your home, and confirm the date of your photos; you want it to be so obvious that a child could pay your claim. Your insurance company may try to get out of paying for certain items, so the more information you have, the better your chances. If you do not have this documentation, your home and belongings will be assessed at average value.

Find the right contractor

If the worst does happen, there are steps that you need to take to handle fire damage. The first step is finding a fire damage restoration contractor that you can trust to do the job well. A fire damage restoration contractor will:

  • Save as many of your personal belongings from incurring more fire damage as they can
  • Document everything they remove from your house with photographs, written documentation, or both
  • After any salvageable items are restored to pre-fire conditions, return them to your home
  • Work quickly and carefully to return your quality of life to as close to your pre-fire lifestyle as possible 

To ensure you hire a quality contractor, you need to approach the market in a way that means you hire someone who will get the job done. When you bid for a contractor, do not get too many bids – this will cause the contractors to compete with each other. When they compete, they may bid low, which means you won’t get the work you need to restore your home. For example, instead of replacing items that need to be replaced, they may just do a faulty fix, or they may leave your property looking patched and unprofessional.

Do remember that your insurance company should be responsible for restoring your property to the state it was in before the fire. When you hire a contractor that can do the work right and is able to explain their decisions and repairs to an insurance adjuster, you’ll find you can handle fire damage without a problem. We always suggest you check your insurance policy to make sure your insurance company will be covering your needs.

Make sure you’re safe

Depending on the severity of the damage caused by the fire, you may or may not be safe residing in your home until the damage is repaired. Fortunately, your insurance company may pay for unforeseen expenses like housing and food. Contact your insurance company to see if they’ll provide you with an advance – they may provide you with a check right away to secure the safety of you and your family.

However, this isn’t free money. This advance will be applied to your overall claim, so keep spending conservative. This advance should only be used to cover your bare living essentials; the money you spend on things like housing is money that you likely won’t be receiving to cover the repair of your home.

Defend your rights

Do you feel that you are getting less than you are entitled to through your insurance company? Is that the money taking an unusually long amount of time to arrive? If you have any uncertainties regarding how you are being treated by your insurance company, contact us. As your experts on how to handle fire damage, our attorneys will make sure you receive the recompense you are entitled to.

You may also be interested in:

Fire Prevention and Protection
Fire Insurance Policy Tips