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The Fire Damage Insurance Claim Process & How to Know if You're Covered
Fire damage insurance claims can leave you feeling lost, stressed, and unsure how to proceed with your insurance company. In this article, we are going to explain the different stages of filing a fire damage insurance claim and some strategies to help you determine whether you are covered.
1. Alert local authorities & secure the property
Whether you are dealing with a small fire or a massive blaze, you should almost always contact your local fire authorities. Do not enter your home unless it has been declared safe by an official. Once you have permission to enter, try to mitigate the damage as best you can. In the future, your insurance provider might ask for proof that you took “reasonable care” of the property immediately after the fire. “Reasonable care” can mean covering holes in your roof, snuffing out burning embers, or boarding up your walls to prevent pests. At this stage, do not throw away anything. Even if your belongings are unsalvageable, presenting them to the insurance company’s adjuster helps bolster your claim.
2. Evaluate the cause of the damage
Now it is time to determine whether your fire damage claim is likely to be covered. Usually, the best way to know whether or not you are covered is to identify the cause of the fire. Common causes include electrical fires, faulty cooking equipment, candles, faulty wiring, and wildfires. While most of these situations are covered, fire insurance claim coverage varies on a policy to policy basis. The wording of your policy will dictate your specific entitlements. If you believe your damage will be covered, this is a good indicator that you should consider filing an insurance claim.
3. Consider whether you need a public adjuster
Public adjusters are independent adjusters hired by individuals to represent them in their dealings with their insurance company. Typically, public adjusters handle cases of significant property damage. Not every homeowner’s insurance claim requires a public adjuster’s aid, but if you think you might face challenges in the claims process, do not hesitate to contact us. Still not sure if a public adjuster is right for your fire claim? Check out our article on the pros and cons of working with a public adjuster!
4. File an insurance claim
Try to contact your insurance company as soon as possible after the damage occurs. While all insurance policies are different, most providers require prompt notice, and significant delays could constitute a breach of contract.
5. Track living expenses
If you need to relocate during repairs, track all your expenses as strictly as possible. Homeowner’s insurance coverage might have a “loss of use” clause, which might entitle you to reimbursement for living expenses while you are out of your home. Your policy should also cover additional living expenses – which are any new costs that you have had to assume since your property sustained the damage. For example, you could claim extra mileage as an additional living expense if your commute has increased substantially.
6. Negotiate an insurance settlement
Insurance claims can remain open for months. As frustrating as it is, try not to let the insurance company rush through the settlement process. They may try to pressure you into settling for an amount that is insufficient to cover your damages. If you choose to work with a public adjuster, they will manage the negotiations – allowing you to focus on your physical and emotional recovery. Lastly, do not forget to keep paying your insurance premiums throughout the negotiation process!
We hope that this article has helped you understand what to expect from the fire damage insurance claim process. If you have recently suffered a loss, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your claim. It can be difficult to determine your coverage limits if you’re unfamiliar with the insurance industry’s vocabulary. Our experts would be happy to review your situation and provide guidance for the claims process. As public adjusters, our main objective is to get you paid every dollar you are owed under your policy.