Dealing with the aftermath of a house fire is overwhelming. There are things to do, and things you absolutely don’t want to do or even attempt to do. Here is a list of helpful tips to take some of the stress out of a house fire recovery.
The Do’s and Don’ts:
Do hire a professional board-up/mitigation contractor to cover doors, windows, roof and other openings to ease further damage to the structure.
Don’t delay contacting your agent about the loss, or performing other duties required by your insurance policy.
Do document everything in writing any time you communicate with your insurance agent and adjuster about your policy, your coverage or about what language in your policy means.
Don’t automatically agree to use repair contractors your insurance adjuster recommends; you are not obligated to use them. Company-approved contractors often have an established working relationship with the company and will complete repairs based on the adjuster’s appraisal.
Do clearly state the quantity of the damaged items and attach all bills, receipts and related documents that justify the figures in the inventory.
Don’t under-report your items, meaning if a spice rack gets destroyed, instead of listing “cooking spices – $50,” state each item with replacement prices separately. Be as descriptive as you can with individual items, and do not elaborate.
Do consider getting your own contractor recommendations, asking for independent estimates, interviewing several contractors and choosing your own.
Don’t throw any damaged items away the insurance adjuster has had an opportunity to come and assess the damage.
Do contact a public adjuster if you sense the process is starting to overwhelm you or you have the feeling that you are being treated unfairly by your insurance company.
Don’t feel compelled to accept a quick settlement offer on your claim. It may be a low-ball offer that does not come close to paying what you need to return your home to its pre-loss condition.
A house fire is going to be difficult no matter what, but these guidelines can ensure that you start the recovery and rebuilding process on the right foot