Not many homeowners believe that a fire will actually happen to them. But when it does, not only are they not prepared, but they have no idea what to do after the flames are extinguished.
Taking steps to recover from a fire can indeed be stressful, if not overwhelming. Simply deciding what to do first can even be a headache. But your insurance agent can provide some answers, and even help to settle your claim quicker to have your home restored to its original condition.
Here are 6 things you will want to do right after a house fire:
- Call your insurance company right away. Public adjusters and contractors will be calling you left and right, offering to restore your home. But as this can create additional stress, it’s recommended to speak with your insurance company first before responding to any of them.
- Contact a restoration company. A restoration company with experience and training will be able to help with the board up and tarping, reconstruction, and other fire damages cleanup needs for your home. One company that is highly recommended is ServiceMaster, available 24/7 for property emergencies. In addition to providing the services above, they can work with your insurance company during the claims process.
- Separate contents. After inspecting the loss, your insurer will need a detailed inventory of the items damaged and untouched during the fire. But separating the damaged items beforehand will make your life a lot easier. Make sure to include details such as the date you bought the item, the brand name, what you paid, the serial number, model, or description of the item. Don’t forget to include whether the item was a gift. If you have any receipts pertaining to the inventory list, keep them with you. But if they were destroyed in the fire, request copies of earlier bank statements. If you still are not able to obtain these receipts, take pictures of the damaged items instead.
- Preserve undamaged items. For the items that were not affected by the fire, keep them in a safe place, even if you have to put them in storage. Even if it comes to adding additional costs to store the items, insurance adjusters are usually fair.
- Cooperate with the insurers inspection. All fire claims that are reported to an insurance company are given priority. Usually the adjusters will arrive within 24 – 48 hours of the fires. But to accelerate the claim, make sure to be flexible and attend all meetings, return calls promptly and return all paperwork, answering any question from the adjuster.
- Find somewhere to stay temporarily. Most homeowner’s insurance policies include “Loss of Use or Loss of Rents” coverage, which will typically cover the food, clothing, and shelter for the time that your home is under repairs. Just keep in mind that your insurance company will only cover the costs of “like kind and quality” living arrangements.
How to Prepare Before a Fire
- Review your homeowner’s insurance policy. Make sure your have replacement cost coverage, loss of use coverage, and adequate dwelling coverage. The last thing you want to hear from your insurer is that you were underinsured.
- Save your receipts. Keep them in a metal, fireproof box or storage facility, such as a safety deposit box. Another option is to scan and save them to your computer. It would also be a good option is to take a video of everything in your home, including all of the possessions in it. This will provide the insurance company with an idea of the kind of lifestyle you had before the fire.
- Install smoke detectors. Make sure there is one in every room and that everyone gets out of the house or apartment safely in the event of a fire. Have all exit ladders and fire extinguishers readily accessible and ensure that everyone knows how to use them.
- Plan escape strategies. Include at least 2 different ways of emergency fire escape plans and consider doing a fire drill to ensure everyone’s safety.
At ServiceMaster, their technicians understand the stress and headache involved in a fire. As they work to restore homes, buildings, and peace of mind everyday, they ensure to work efficiently and effectively to get you back on track.
Within their fire damage restoration services, you can expect them to arrive immediately, inspect the property, remove any smoke and soot damage, conduct any needed repairs and reconstruction, and finally work with your insurance during the claims process.
With their services, you can expect nothing but professionalism, peace of mind, and answers to any of your questions. Be sure to give them a call immediately after your insurer to have them start the restoration work right away.