After a fire, the last thing you want to deal with is an insurance adjuster. With the loss of belongings, your house, and in many cases, your sense of safety, having to deal with insurance is one of the last burdens you want to deal with. However, knowing how to properly file a claim and make a record of all your losses can help you get back on your feet and back into your home.
Things to do to ensure you get the most from your insurance provider.
Ask For an Advance
If you are forced to evacuate due to a fire, then you probably forgot to grab essentials like clothing or toiletries, and many belongings were possibly completely lost by the fire. If this is the case, contact your insurance provider and ask for someone to bring a check to wherever you are staying. This advance should be practical and just enough to cover essentials until you are able to get back on your feet. This advance will be deducted form the final amount you receive from the insurance company.
Secure Your Property
It is important to take steps that minimize further harm to your property. This includes simple steps like covering your roof where there is damage in order to prevent leaks, turning off your water, etc. Your insurance will cover these damages once the claim has been filed and assessed, but until then, it is your job to protect your belongings. Board up your property if you must leave to prevent vandalism and looting. Even if you are staying elsewhere, have someone go by your home regularly to insure there is nothing you need to be concerned about.
Make a List of Everything Lost
It might take some time and reflection, but as soon as possible, you want to write down everything that was lost in the fire. Everything should be included and written down before your file your insurance claim. Make sure you don’t throw away any damaged or destroyed items, and take pictures of as many things as you can to better help your insurance adjuster. If you throw something away, the insurance company may refuse to compensate you.
File Your Claim ASAP
Once you have taken account of all of your loss, file your claim. Call your insurance provider immediately to get a form to fill out. You will need to provide as much information as possible including date of loss, type of loss or damage, location of damage, related injuries, others involved, condition of the home, description of all damaged contents, whether temporary repairs are necessary, and records of a police report. Put as much detail as possible to give your insurance company a good reading of the state of your home.
Keep Track of Expenses
While you are away from home, make sure you keep note of how much you spend on hotel stays, food, essentials and more. Your insurance policy should include a “loss of use” clause that reimburses you for expenses you suffer during times like this. Make sure to keep a list of how much is spent and what it is spent on.
Document All Repairs
Once you begin estimating the cost of repairs, make sure any company you go to provides a written estimate, receipt, and documentation to give your insurance adjuster all the right information. Be picky when choosing contractors, and take time to find someone who is trustworthy and provides the best deal to work with your insurance.
Don’t Give Up
Insurance companies try to close fire insurance claims quickly. However, if you do not feel like they have fully served you in the way agreed upon in your insurance plan, then tell them. The longer a claim is open, the longer you are able to find things they need to reimburse you for.
Protecting Home When You’re Away
Planning a vacation is always exciting. You can look forward to new adventures, new locations, and new memories that you are likely to cherish forever. However, if you forget to keep your home safe when you aren’t there, you could come home to disaster. From theft to fire, when you aren’t there to look out for it, your home is vulnerable to a lot of dangers unless you prepare.
Get a House sitter
A house sitter will do two things. For one, it will ensure there is someone at your home who is consistently checking on pets, locks, and other things to make sure it is in as good of shape as it was when you left. Secondly, this will deter any thieves who think your home is abandoned and alone. Make sure you give them information for any neighbors, local officers, vets, or other people they may need to contact while you are gone.
Don’t tell Social Media
While it is tempting to brag when you will be out of town, it is not a smart practice. Vocalizing online that you will be gone is like telling thieves your home is unattended for a long period, giving them an exact window of opportunity. Wait until after your trip to post pictures and share your trip with everyone.
Tip off police
Especially if you live in a small community, letting police officers know when you will be gone for more than a week will allow them to plan to patrol your neighborhood at least once or twice while you are gone. Seeing a police car regularly in an area will deter thieves who know your house is now being watched.
Get a neighborly lookout
The one time nosey neighbors come in handy is when you are out of town. It can be the same person you have watching your house, but let a neighbor know you will be gone so they can inform you if any unidentified cars are at the home.
Don’t let your home look abandoned
Set light in and around the home to timers, so they go on and off at various times to make your home look lived in. Leaving all lights on can be suspicious if a burglar is watching at 3am, so timers help it look like someone is there turning lights on as needed. Also, see if you are able to stop your mail and newspaper delivery for the duration of your trip, so it doesn’t pile up.
Go through your home and unplug any electronics that don’t serve a purpose while you are away. This will not only lower your electricity bill, but will also help prevent an electrical fire form happening in the home.
Make sure every door, window, nook and cranny are locked before you leave. IF you have a spare key, place it in the house so no one else can use. Make sure your home is ready to take care of itself while you are enjoying a home away from home.