The First Steps Homeowners Should Take After a House Fire

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House Fire

A house fire can be a devastating experience that leaves you shaken up and uncertain about what to do next. But the next steps you take are essential for both your family and your financial health.

The process of filing your fire insurance claim starts almost right away. This guide will show you what steps you need to take to get your claim started and make the process as straightforward and easy on you as possible.

1) Contact the Insurance Company

Contacting the insurance company happens in several stages. First, you should let the insurer know immediately after a major loss has happened, such as a fire. Call the insurance company right away, and they may even be able to provide immediate help, such as an advance to help you cover the cost of a hotel, food, clothing, and other essentials that you will need immediately.

You will also have to initiate your claim in writing to officially begin the process. Not all losses require an insurance claim, but most instances involving a fire will warrant a claim. Even a small fire can result in thousands of dollars of smoke damage.

2) Request the Details of Your Policy

Your long-form policy includes all of the details of your coverage, including your deductible, coverage limits, and the precise terms that apply to your coverage. This information can help prepare you for your claim and give you an idea of what to expect.

3) Take Photos and Document the Damage

Once you are permitted to re-enter your home, you should take photos and document all your losses. The fire insurance claim calculation is done by an insurance adjuster, but if you have a disagreement about the settlement, you may want to have your own documentation to rely on. These photos can also help you when filing your claim.

4) Remove Sentimental or Salvageable Items

If there are valuables that can be recovered or sentimental items that you would like to try to recover, only remove them after you have taken photos of the scene so that you can prove they were in your home when they were damaged.

Fire and smoke damage restoration is not easy. Belongings like wood furniture may be salvageable, but the restoration process is not always guaranteed to work.

It often makes more sense to replace smoke-damaged belongings, as the cost of an unsuccessful restoration can still come out of your insurance policy, leaving you further out of pocket. 

5) Keep Track of Your Expenses

Things can get expensive while you wait for repairs to get done. You may move from a hotel to a condo or rental home, and will likely be eating most meals from restaurants as a result. You may be faced with higher transportation costs due to your temporary location if it is further from work and school than your home.

Homeowners Should Take After a House Fire

All of these expenses can be covered by your Additional Living Expenses or Loss of Use coverage. This part of your policy covers any expenses above and beyond your typical budget, allowing you to keep up with mortgage payments, taxes, and other usual expenses.

Keep your receipts and find a way to organize them so that you can easily submit these expenses later on.

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