Right now there are several fires raging across California. As we write this, the BART public transport system has been shut down in the Oakland area of San Francisco. There are people’s houses being burnt to the ground as we speak and, as that happens, all of their important documents are being destroyed. Those documents would have helped them to gain everything they deserve when they file an insurance claim. Here are a couple of tips for being prepared to file a homeowner’s insurance claim and what to do after your home has been burned, either partially or to the ground.
- First of all, take a deep breath. A house fire is tragic and terrifying, but fire is also your ally when it comes to filing an insurance claim. Insurance companies will very rarely give you problems with covering the loss and paying to replace damaged property and personal contents—unless, of course, they can prove arson. There’s not a homeowners policy in America that doesn’t pay for fire; and if yours doesn’t include fire, you must be buying it out of the back of some guy’s van.
- DO NOT enter the house until you’ve been told it is safe by a fire or emergency professional. They will make sure that the fire is truly extinguished and established safety zones. Please note that the property may be so badly damaged that you won’t be able to enter at all.
- Insurance companies want great documentation. They’ll ask for proof of your most important and expensive items. The best thing to do is take photographs or a video of your contents, make hard copies the inventory photos and/or video, then upload them to an external website. Your experience with the adjuster will be much smoother and more pleasant if you have good documentation. And if you have a lot of possessions that are expensive, documentation is necessary to get the insurance company to pay what its worth—otherwise, you’ll get reimbursed for the “average”.
- Know who to call after a fire. Don’t assume that the fire department or police will inform your insurance company about the fire, nor is the insurance company patrolling the streets for signs of fire or damage. You’ll need to call them in order to start the process, which includes documentation of the event and the claim itself. Also, the agent can help you with emergency lodging, and talk to you about living expenses—don’t forget to keep every receipt that has to do with you and your family being displaced after the fire. If you’re a tenant, get in touch with the owner or landlord and see who needs to call their insurance company. Don’t forget to call family members who weren’t with you when the fire happened. Let them know you’re alright, and they also might be able to offer you aid or a place to stay.
- Get a fire report by calling the fire department for a copy. This will discuss what state the house was in, the area of the house involved, the time and date of the incident, and an incident number. It will be good to have this in case the insurance company requests it.
- SECURE YOUR HOUSE. Assuming the house isn’t completely burned to the ground, you’ll be required to secure it by insurance. This sounds crazy, but if a thief or looter goes into your property when it’s not properly secured and gets hurt, you’ll be liable.
- Remember, damage usually goes beyond—far beyond—what the eye can see, and that’s why you need professional help to clean up. If the damage is beyond a single room, or happened in a garage or kitchen where the heat may have triggered a chemical reaction, it is best to call a company like ours to get it done quickly in the best way possible.
Let us help you get your home and life back as soon as possible! A house fire doesn’t have to be the end of the world. If you have any questions about the information above, please get in touch. We’d be happy to answer any questions you have. Call now: (877) 732-8471