You had a house fire. One of the first things you want to know is: What personal property is covered by my homeowners insurance policy after the fire, and what isn’t? So we compiled some of the most common questions we receive about fire damage from our clients along with our answers.

What will my insurance company pay for if I have a fire?

While you should always check your policy, your insurance company should pay for dwelling rebuilding and/or replacement costs (including damages from flames, smoke, and soot) as well as damaged personal property, detached structures like a shed or garage, temporary emergency repairs, debris removal and additional living expenses (ALE) if the dwelling is uninhabitable. Other coverages may apply, but these are the most common coverages.

In addition to my house, does my policy cover the damaged personal property in my garage?

Yes, personal property within the dwelling or any covered structures are covered under the insurance policy for the stated limit under personal property. You also have coverage, though limited, for personal property off site. This would include in a storage unit, second home, etc.

I can no longer live in my home. How do I pay for my basic needs immediately after the fire?

Your homeowners’ policy covers these initial costs, called Additional Living Expense (ALE) coverage. ALE pays the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there because of damage from an insured disaster. That includes hotel bills, restaurant meals and other costs incurred, over and above your usual living expenses, while your home is being rebuilt. You need to make sure to keep receipts and careful records of all your purchases in order to receive ALE reimbursement.

What is debris to be discarded and what should I save? Should I wait until there’s an opportunity to examine items for such things as mold contamination from water damage?

Don’t throw any damaged items away until the agent has nothing to do with the claim and the insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to come and assess the damage.

What if I experience vandalism in the aftermath of the fire?

There is coverage for boarding up and securing the property right after the loss. Since the house is typically vacant, it makes it more susceptible to break-ins and vandalism. If such things  occur, there is coverage, but a new claim would have to be filed and another deductible would be owed.

What about my trees, shrubs, plants and any other landscaping are damaged in the fire?

If trees, lawn, or other landscaping is damaged due to the covered fire, there is coverage to fix or replace the damage.

What if I was renting my home at the time of the fire?

A homeowners insurance policy should cover the fair rental value (minus any expenses that cease when you stop living in the property after the fire).

What about my car – is that covered?

Your car will be covered if you have comprehensive insurance, but it is not covered under your homeowners policy.  

For a business fire loss, what about the lost revenue as a result of fire?

If you have business income/interruption insurance (BI) coverage, it will cover those losses based on your current financial statements. It will also cover extra expenses, such as those associated with moving into a temporary location until your business is rebuilt or anything you need to do to prevent the loss of income.

We know a house fire is an overwhelming experience. In some cases, you have no idea where to start. We suggest contacting your insurance company as soon as possible after you incur fire damage. And if you need help with the claims process, a public adjuster can help you. And if you feel like you’re being treated unfairly by the insurance company during the claims process, you don’t have to go through this alone. Our public adjusters will help you on your journey to rebuilding and recovery. Contact us for support today.

DOWNLOAD OUR 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.

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