Dealing with the aftermath of a house fire is overwhelming. There are things to do, and things you definitely don’t want to do or even attempt to do. We’ve put together the following list of helpful tips to take some of the stress out of a house fire recovery.
House Fire Do’s and Don’ts:
|Do hire a professional board-up/mitigation contractor to cover doors, windows, roof and other openings to mitigate further damage to the structure.||Don’t delay contacting your agent about the loss, or performing other duties required by your insurance policy.|
|Do document everything in writing any time you communicate with your insurance agent and adjuster about your policy, your coverage or about what language in your policy means.||Don’t automatically agree to use repair contractors your insurance adjuster recommends; you are not obligated to use them. Company-approved contractors often have an established working relationship with the company and will complete repairs based on the adjuster’s appraisal.That might prevent you from getting your home repaired the way you want.|
|Do come to agreement with your insurer on the Scope of Loss, or the amount and type of damage that has been done to a structure, plus the quantity and quality of materials and their current cost, as well as labor costs to repair or rebuild the home.||Don’t start any work until you and the insurer agree on the Scope of Loss. Without one you may jeopardize have enough in your final settlement to restore the property to its pre-loss condition.|
|Do prepare an inventory of damaged personal property showing the quantity, description, age, and Replacement Cost Value (RCV) of all items.||Don’t allow a restoration company to take and restore damaged personal property until decisions are made as to which items can be cleaned or replaced. Prematurely relinquishing control might be wasting settlement dollars restoring rather than replacing items.|
|Do clearly state the quantity of the damaged items and attach all bills, receipts and related documents that justify the figures in the inventory.||Don’t under-report your items, meaning if a spice rack gets destroyed, instead of listing “cooking spices – $50,” state each item with replacement prices separately. Be as descriptive as you can with individual items, and do not embellish.|
|Do consider getting your own contractor recommendations, asking for independent estimates, interviewing several contractors and choosing your own.||Don’t throw any damaged items away the insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to come and assess the damage.|
|Do contact a public adjuster if you sense the process is starting to overwhelm you or you have the feeling that you are being treated unfairly by your insurance company.||Don’t feel compelled to accept a quick settlement offer on your claim. It may be a low-ball offer that does not come close to paying what you need to return your home to its pre-loss condition.|
A house fire is going to be taxing no matter what, but these simple guidelines can ensure that you start the recovery and rebuilding process on the right foot. If you need someone on your side to navigate your insurance claims process, contact our experienced team of public adjusters. We’ll be on your side every step of the way.
Download Our Free DIY Guide to Recovering From A Fire
Decisions made and actions taken during the first six months after a fire will largely determine what kind of claim settlement you’ll receive from your insurance company.