Fire losses are often the most devastating occurrences that can happen to a family or business. Fire damage requires important short-term decisions from individuals that are under a tremendous amount of stress and confusion. Our fire claims adjusters see many mistakes being made when dealing with a restoration company. These choices can have lasting consequences on what you recover from your fire insurance claim.
The first thing to do is call the fire department! Regardless of the size of the fire, contact 911 and report it. Your safety and the preservation of your property is critical. Small fires can still cause significant damage. You may not realize there are toxic fumes, explosive gas, smoke, and other dangers associated with a fire. The fire marshal’s investigation report will be critical to your insurance claim.
Secure your property. You will undoubtedly be approached by emergency services companies that respond almost as fast as the fire department. While it is important to take steps to secure your property, be careful of what you sign. Make sure that you are only authorizing them to “board up” your property and not the full restoration of the property. Read everything very carefully.
After securing the safety of your family or employees, contact your insurance company. It is critical to promptly inform your insurance company of your loss. This will start the insurance claim process. You will need to photograph and/or video damage, make a list of all the items you lost, get repair/replacement estimates, and gather and keep all receipts for your temporary living expenses. You will also need to continue paying your insurance premiums and mortgage throughout the claim process.
If you or a resident of your home has health sensitivities such as allergies or asthma, alert your adjuster right away. Mold and soot inside your home must be eliminated to safeguard people with respiratory problems. You can (and should) seek payment from your insurer for mold, smoke, soot and odor mitigation.
Depending on the extent of the fire damages, you may need various contractors, engineers, architects, and other specialists to assist in the preparation of your property’s restoration. This is where we can help the outcome of our claim. We bring years of experience and expertise to the process to ensure that you are returned to pre-loss condition.
Smoke & Soot
Smoke & Soot damage is covered in almost all homeowner’s policies. Your insurance company will most likely pay for cleaning smoke and ash, but disputes often arise over cleaning versus replacing items that have been exposed to smoke and odor. Once in the ventilation system, smoke and soot can damage items throughout the house and require costly professional cleaning and restoration
It is also very important to have the entire HVAC system of your home cleaned out. You can access some parts of the system and clean by hand, but a professional HVAC contractor should do the rest.
Your adjuster may tell you that it is sufficient for you to wipe surfaces yourself and that a deep cleaning is not necessary. The cleaning process can be expensive, so insurance companies have developed ways to control their payouts for this work. It is critical that this process is done correctly.
Contents of Your Home
If you have contents coverage, it is your responsibility to document your losses and prove ownership through receipts, photographs, and other means. No matter what the adjuster tells you, do not throw anything away until you have reviewed your policy with an outside, unbiased expert. Our contents recovery team does a thorough inventory of every single item that was affected by working with you to fill in the blanks. We then put that inventory into the proper format for your insurance company, including all required documentation and replacement value. We also provide storage and cleaning services for contents and clothing/linens. Fees for this service are billed to the insurer.
Seek a qualified public adjuster to assist you with your claim.