Dealing with Your Insurance Company after a House Fire

House fires can devastate a family. If you have recently endured a house fire, there are a few steps you should take promptly after the incident occurs to ensure a smooth recovery process.
If you evacuated your house in a moment’s notice, chances are you didn’t have time to salvage any necessities. Your homeowners policy will cover these purchases without you having to file a claim first. You can even ask for an advance for items you will need in the immediate future. If the fire claimed a laptop you used for work, simply call your insurance company and ask for a representative to bring you a check wherever you are staying. Be sure to keep receipts for everything you buy, and be reasonable. If you lost an $800 Dell laptop in the fire, don’t replace it with a $1,500 MacBook unless you’re prepared to pay for the difference out of pocket.
Your policy will require you to secure your property to limit the damages that may occur after the fire. In legalese, this is known as your duty to “mitigate damages.” Your insurance company will cover the cost of any materials or resources you used to do this when you make your claim.

Some of the steps you can take to mitigate damages may include:

  • Boarding up windows and doors to prevent vandalism. You may want to consider
    putting up a portable chain-link fence around your property as well.
  • If you notice the structure is still smoldering after the fire, alert your
    local fire department to do what’s necessary to prevent a flare up.
  • Keep a close eye on your property and check for any new problems or disturbances.
Your policy will require you to contact the insurance company as soon as possible after the incident occurs. After this initial contact, you will be asked to submit a “proof of loss” claim. In it, you will itemize your losses and list the value of each item. The sooner you file a claim, the sooner an adjuster will be there to deal with it.
Just as your insurance company expects you to act promptly, you’ll want to make sure the company acts promptly on your behalf as well. Fortunately, most companies are required, by law, to handle your claim in a timely manner. If there is no dispute over your claim, you’re entitled to payment after a certain amount of time. If you haven’t heard from your insurance company, contact them and urge them to get back on track.
Keep track of all your living expenses. Your policy will include a “loss of use policy,” which will reimburse you for all living expenses you acquire while you are out of your home. However, you are only entitled to the difference between what you’re living on now, and what it cost you to live on a daily basis before the fire. For example, if, before the fire, you regularly spent $200 a week on groceries, and now you are spending $350 at restaurants, your insurance company will only cover the difference of $150. Your policy should cover all lodging expenses, but you will still be responsible for your mortgage, taxes and insurance.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of your post-fire recovery process.Losing your house to a fire is a tremendous hardship to overcome. The grieving process could go on for weeks, but it is important to stay diligent. Make a list of tasks you must take to recover on a daily basis. Stay in close contact with your insurance company to ensure you are fully compensated for your losses. They will help guide you through this difficult time. If you are skeptical about your insurer’s methods or policy procedures, contact a Texas bad faith insurance attorney at Brasher Law Firm, PLLC.