9 Tips for Fire Damaged Home or Business Insurance Claims

When a home or a business is damaged by fire and smoke, the devastation left by the blaze and water suppression efforts results in a mess being left behind.  It can be a trying time for anyone.  Hopefully, the tips and pointers we offer here will help you to know how to proceed after the smoke clears.

  1. The fire marshal will give you the all-clear on your property
  2. Your property will need to be secured, which means boarding up windows and doors, tarping roofs,  and eventually, you will need to get the debris removed. Expert Restoration of Utah can do this for you throughout the Wasatch front.
  3. You will want to contact your insurance company and be onsite during all inspections of your property.  The insurance adjuster will come by to visit your property and identify the extent of your loss.
  4. Read your insurance policy carefully, so you know your rights when it comes to giving any statements about the fire or the loss. Even when the fire is not incendiary in nature, it is important that you know that the insurance adjusters will often question and challenge the following:  the cause of the fire, the items lost in the fire, and the building components. They are trying to save the insurance company money if they can find an excuse to minimize your payout or even not pay your claim at all.
  5. Don’t throw anything away. You might be anxious to clean up the mess and move on. The scene should not be disturbed until you are given clearance.  The insurance adjuster will give you the okay as to when to dispose of these items.  Be sure to take your own photos and video before you dispose of any items. You should not rely on the insurance company adjuster’s photos to help prove your case and identify all of the damage and items lost.
  6. You will want to make a detailed list of everything. If it wasn’t a complete loss and you have smoke damage, you will likely have a dry cleaning or textile cleaning company take care of your cleaning your soft goods. Take photos and list every item that they will be taking and cleaning. You will need to do substantial work on the inventory side of your insurance claim. You will want to ask what happens if the soft good items don’t come clean. Find out what happens if the item is cleaned to their standard but not yours.
  7. Be very careful sorting through the ash and the rubble. Take lots of pictures, especially if anything in the remains shows a serial number or model number.
  8. Don’t be rushed to turn in an inventory of items impacted by your fire. IF you submit a partial or incomplete list, there is a very slim chance that your insurance company will accept any additions or changes to your claim.  Insurance companies routinely fail to pay the supplemental lists and argue in court that items on the second list were not lost in the fire because an insured would have remembered to put keepsakes and high-value items of great importance on the first list.
  9. Call a restoration professional for an estimate on the smoke damage clean up and restoration of your property.  Now that your insurance company has filed your claim, you can call a fire damage restoration professional to provide an estimate and repair the damage. These professionals have plenty of experience dealing with fire damaged properties and they may find something that the insurance adjuster missed. Your insurance company may suggest a restoration professional to work with. However, it is your legal right to choose any restoration service provider and your insurance company will have to work with them.

These are some tips to take into consideration when you have to file a fire or smoke damage claim. You may need more guidance when dealing with a fire or smoke loss. Make sure that you consult people who have a lot of experience in this area and working with insurance adjusters and insurance companies.  You will want to consult these professionals early in the claims process to determine what to expect, what to ask, and if the right steps are being followed.

Chris

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