It can be hard to know what steps you should be taking after you’ve had a fire in your home. You need to find a place to stay, deal with the insurance company, create a list of the items you lost, secure your house – the list can go on and on.
You can use this checklist to make sure you have taken care of the essentials after a fire.
#1: Contact Your Insurance Company
You will need to contact your insurance company quickly, as your timeliness of notice is a condition to your claim being covered. Equally as important: the costs associated with finding temporary shelter, such as additional living expenses and replacing property, should be included in your coverage.
#2: Secure the Site
Ensure that your home is protected from further damage due to the weather or vandals. The majority of house fires take place during the cold months, as many are related to heating systems. The insurance company may take the steps for you, or you can take the steps yourself to board up windows, install a fence, and make sure the property is secure.
#3: Create a Schedule of Loss
Your Schedule of Loss is a list of property damaged or lost due to the fire. Get family and friends who have visited your house to help you create this list. It can include items such as:
- Entertainment like movies, video games, and books
- And more
#4: Notify People of Your New Address
You may wind up spending the first few nights in a hotel or with family. Depending on the severity of the fire and how much time it will take to repair or rebuild your home, you may want to consider a short-term rental for your family.
Once you’ve found a semi-permanent place to stay while your house is repaired, notify people of your new address, including:
- Your family and friends
- The schools your children attend
- Your Post Office
- Your bank and utility providers
- Your employer or workplace
- Your insurance company
As you talk to your insurance company about the fire, you need to make sure you get important mail.
#5: Talk to a Lawyer About Your Claim
Once you’ve submitted a Schedule of Loss, estimated your Additional Living Expenses, and estimated the cost of repairs to your home, the insurance company will give you an offer. For some, the offer may not be enough. When you seek clarification from the adjuster, you have to remember that they work for the insurance company, and their justifications will be focused on the company’s interests.
If you feel that the offer is unfair, you can contact an insurance lawyer to get a second opinion and assistance negotiating a fair settlement. Though there aren’t many, law firms like Virani Law do practice home insurance law. They can negotiate and advocate for you, like a public adjuster, but they have the legal knowledge and background that adjusters lack. That means insurance companies take their involvement seriously.
Before retaining a lawyer you should inquire into whether they routinely handle insurance issues, and you should discuss their fees. For example, the fees at Virani Law are designed for each client, and they can be set up to protect your family’s settlement.
Make sure your family gets a fair amount from the insurance company. Accepting a low offer could mean that you and your family will wind up paying out of pocket for expenses like repairs and temporary shelter that should have been covered in a fair and fulsome settlement.