You’re never prepared for a house fire. It’s a frightening experience that leaves you facing countless challenges while trying to figure out what to do next. In the middle of all this confusion, you have to deal with the insurance company.
Are you ready to navigate the insurance claims process after a fire at your home?
When we provide fire damage cleaning services for Chicago homeowners, we’re often asked for help with insurance details, so we’ve developed this guide with our top seven fire insurance claims tips.
What to Do After a House Fire: Insurance Matters
1. Understand Your Coverage
There’s nothing worse than finding out you aren’t fully insured after a fire in your home. Review your homeowners policy each year to make sure you have adequate coverage. Ask your agent to explain the difference between replacement and cash value coverage for your house and belongings.
Power Tip: Let your agent know if you’ve made any recent improvements to your home or added new items like furnishings and appliances.
2. Keep Documentation Safe
File a copy of your homeowners policy in a secure location. A bank safe deposit box serves as an ideal place for policy papers and other important documents that would be hard to replace after a fire.
Keep a current list of major purchases for your home in the same location. Include photos of items along with receipts in case you need them for insurance claims.
3. Contact Your Insurer Immediately
Once you and your family are safe, contact your insurer right away. Even if you don’t have all the information at hand, your agent can get the house fire insurance claim process started immediately. Expect to be assigned a claim number and an appointment date with the adjuster.
Your insurer is required to handle your claim in a timely manner. If you don’t hear from your adjuster is a reasonable amount of time, call, email and write a letter. Document all your correspondence.
Power Tip: If you don’t believe you’re being treated fairly by your agent, contact the Illinois Department of Insurance
4. Secure Your Home as Soon as Possible
Homeowners are often surprised by this fire insurance claims tip, but it’s a very important point. Most insurance policies require taking reasonable steps to minimize additional damage to your home. For example, you’re expected to:
• Tarp sections of your roof that were destroyed in the fire
• Remove smoldering furniture or other items that could reignite a blaze.
• Board up all windows and doors to prevent vandalism if you vacate the property.
5. Request an Advance
When fire strikes, you only have minutes to get out of the house. That leaves little time to grab necessities like clothing or toiletries. If your home is badly damaged, you need a place to stay. Asking for an advance against your fire insurance claim helps cover out-of-pocket expenses for personal items and temporary lodging.
Power Tip: Save receipts, and be practical. The insurance company won’t cover expenses considered unreasonable.
6. Save and Organize Everything
Keep track of all emails and letter exchanges with your insurer. Take notes during phone conversations, and organize them by date. Use an accordion folder to file receipts, repair estimates, invoices, contracts and work permits so that you always have the information at hand.
Hang on to original documentation, and share copies with your insurance company. This strategy prevents any complications in case the agency misplaces your paperwork.
7. Reach Out for Help
Dealing with a fire’s aftermath can be frightening and confusing, but you don’t have to face it alone. A full service restoration company can offer invaluable guidance on how to handle the details involved in filing a fire insurance claim.
Ask your agent to recommend a restoration contractor with Preferred Vendor status. This designation ensures dealing with an industry professional who knows how to work as your advocate during the claims process.
Power Tip: Check with your insurance company now for a restoration company reference, and file the contact information so that you’ll always be ready.
Count on Our Expertise
Peace of mind comes from being prepared before the unexpected happens. Members of our online community often print our guides and file them away just in case, so let us know if you find these fire insurance claims tips helpful. Just share your thoughts through our Comments Section.
As Chicago’s leading fire damage restoration company, ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba maintains Preferred Vendor status with national and local insurance companies. Our fire damage cleaning services include navigating the claims process, so you can count on us for support. We’re here for you when you need it the most.