A house fire is a devastating event, threatening the lives of any caught inside and often destroying personal property and the home itself. Fortunately, homeowner’s insurance can provide substantial financial relief, enabling the rebuilding of lives and homes. Nothing can fully compensate a homeowner for the losses incurred, though, so don’t hesitate to use these tips to get the most money for your house fire claim.
1. Document the damage for your house fire claim
Once people and pets are out of harm’s way and the property has been deemed safe by authorities, take photos or video of the damages. As not all damages may be immediately recognizable, erring on the side of too much documentation is better than having too little. Take lots of photos, and include close-ups where the damage is hard to see.
Even if you take a lot of photos, it is a good idea to back them up with video as well. Take a walkthrough of what remains of your home, slowly moving the camera view along all floors, walls, and ceilings. This gives a different perspective of the damage, and it can be helpful in understanding the photos by providing context for insurance claim investigators.
2. Contact your insurance company promptly
The quicker you contact your insurance company, the quicker you can have your house fire claim addressed. You want to follow the claims adjudication process properly, so it can pay off and get the most money for your house fire claim by ensuring the information they need gets there in a timely manner.
Suppose, for instance, that the insurance adjuster doesn’t quite understand the breadth of smoke damage in the kitchen. While you may have some photos, perhaps you brought in someone for repairs, meaning you can no longer provide further documentation of residues left on surfaces. For all the claims adjuster knows, any residues might have been left by workers instead of the fire’s smoke.
So, make sure that you follow the steps laid out by the insurance company. In the example above, a homeowner leaping to repair a kitchen may no longer receive reimbursement for deep cleaning.
3. Keep all of your paperwork
It’s a good idea to create a file or other special place to keep all paperwork that relates to your house fire claim. The first thing you should add to it is a copy of your homeowner’s insurance policy. That way, you can quickly refer to portions of it when there’s a question about what may or may not be covered.
You should also keep all correspondence from your insurance company regarding your house fire claim in that same place. This way, you are better prepared to spot inconsistencies.
If more than one adjuster is involved in your insurance claim, then you have a record of what each of them has promised. In this way, if one adjuster has approved payment for an item and another one questions it, you have proof that you are entitled to the most money for your house fire claim.
Finally, keep all of your receipts for materials, inspections, and labor related to your house fire claim. This also likely extends to additional living expenses, such as hotel stays or restaurant dining (within reason), if your home was rendered uninhabitable by the fire. Without the receipts, you cannot be repaid for out-of-pocket expenses. Keeping up with all of these expenses is perhaps the best tip to get the most money for your house fire claim.