Things can get overwhelming pretty quickly after your home or building suffers through a fire. Evacuating the home or building and calling the fire department should be the first steps taken. Once the fire is out, you need to call a fire damage restoration professional to address the damage to your property. In order to cover the fire damage to your property, you will also need to file an insurance claim.
Contact your insurance adjuster as quickly as possible to file an insurance claim. But before doing so, it’s important to know what’s involved in the process and how to file a claim so things work in your best interest. Check out the following steps on how to file a fire damage insurance claim so you can receive maximum coverage for what was lost.
- Read your coverage. Always read your contract details front-to-back to fully understand what your insurance does and does not cover.
- Collect the information you need. To prove the losses, specific information will be needed on the incident to approve the claim.
- Ask about temporary assistance. It’s possible your insurance may provide temporary housing if your home is uninhabitable.
- Document everything. When everything is documented, you’ll receive more coverage from what was lost. Also, ask for all estimates in writing.
- Get a second opinion. When searching for fire damage restoration companies, no two are created equal. Be sure to contact multiple providers to get their opinions.
- Pay your premiums. Continue paying your insurance premiums to continue protection if any other problems arise during the restoration process.
- Don’t close your claim right away. You may find more damage before submitting your claim, so hold onto it until you are absolutely sure all damages are found.
1. Read Your Coverage
Not many homeowners are fully aware of their coverage, but if you read all the ins and outs on yours, you’ll know exactly what to expect. Important information like your deductible, coverage, and what is excluded should all be on the document. If you don’t have a copy of your insurance policy, be sure to contact your provider and they can send you a new one.
2. Gather All Necessary Information
Depending on what the insurance carrier requires, specific information will be needed to approve your claim.
What is usually needed to file an insurance claim:
- Copy of police report
- Property’s condition
- Location of fire damage
- Type of claim (fire damage)
- Date of fire damage
- All repair/replacement estimates
- Detailed list of all damage
- In-depth list of injuries incurred
3. Ask About Immediate, Temporary Living Assistance
Some insurance companies offer various forms of living assistance in the situation where the home is uninhabitable. If you were also unable to save any of your essential items, like toiletries and clothes, you may be able to get an advance, and it will be deducted from the total amount of the claim.
This is usually listed within the coverage policy, but it never hurts to ask, even if you don’t see it in the contract.
4. Document everything
It’s important to document everything, including pictures of the damage as well as all estimates of the destruction and the repair costs. Also remember to keep everything related to the incident, regardless of how unimportant it seems.
Never throw away anything until the insurance company has sent an adjuster to inspect the damage. Also take pictures and/or videos to document everything that was lost. If your adjuster can see all the items that were damaged, it makes the claims process much more efficient.
Keep detailed notes of all your living expenses, communications with your insurance agency and all other documents. Email is usually the preferred method of communication rather than phone.
5. Get a Second Opinion
Usually insurance-assigned adjusters will make decisions for the best interest of the insurance company, not yours, so it’s important to hire a structural engineer or a licensed contractor to fully inspect the damage.
These professionals can determine the structural integrity and provide an honest estimate for the repair costs.
6. Continue Paying Your Insurance Premiums
After filing your insurance claim, never forget to continue paying your insurance premiums.
As homeowner’s insurance includes liability protection, which covers damage from stressed pets and can also cover the new address where you’re staying.
If you’re no longer able to live in your home, provide the insurance agent the address at which your staying so you can add it to your liability coverage.
7. Don’t Close Your Claim
Many insurance companies will usually rush fire insurance claims. This is because the longer the claim is open, the higher the chance you’ll find more damage and more money the insurance company must spend.
Also beware of sneaky language like, “accepting payment will close your claim.”
You don’t have to accept statements like these. Just cross out the language saying the claim will be closed and sign or initial next to it. Then send a letter thanking them for the payment but informing them you do not accept the closing of the claim.
Fire Damage Restoration
While it’s important to file a claim as soon as possible to pay for the repair costs, one of the most important steps to take after discovering fire damage in your home or building is to call a fire damage restoration contractor. If you live in the southern California area of Azusa or near Albuquerque, NM, ServiceMaster by T.A. Russell and ServiceMaster of Albuquerque & West Mesa are available 24/7 to respond right away.
We will first stabilize the property structure and board up all windows and doors to prevent additional damage, followed by emergency pre-cleaning to restore the items and surfaces with the highest risk of permanent smoke damage.
Developing a custom plan to allow for an efficient restoration process, our technicians will work quickly and effectively to return your home to its original condition. Any water damage from the fire hose will also be dried out and restored. Any smoke odors left behind from the fire will be removed using hydroxyl and ozone technology.
Once the restoration service is complete, we will work with your insurance agent through the claims process so you can focus on other matters.
Contact Us for Fire Damage Restoration Services
For complete fire damage restoration services in Azusa, Southern California, Albuquerque or all of New Mexico, contact ServiceMaster by T.A. Russell at 866-808-9700.