The holiday season brings cheer, an influx of home decor (with flair), and an unfortunate uptick in the occurrence of house fires. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, between 2015 – 2019, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 Christmas tree fires per year.  Fires can damage structures, personal belongings, and other property, making your home unlivable for what may feel like a never-ending period of time. What’s worse is that fire insurance claims can be complex and confusing. So, as a property owner, you may have questions about filing a claim for a fire-related incident. Here are three fire insurance tips to help make filing a claim easier. 

How to File a Fire Insurance Claim

  • It is very important that you report the fire damage to your insurer as soon as possible. Be sure to take photos of all affected items and include a list with costs to estimate the reimbursement or replacement amounts. If you have had custom work done in your home, contact the contractor or other professional in the industry to determine fair cost for the work that was done and what repair or replacement costs that contractor anticipates.  
  • Once you have prepared all of your documents, photos, and other supporting evidence, you will need to schedule an appointment with the insurance adjuster to assess the damage and discuss compensation for repairs or replacement.  
  • Make sure to follow up with the insurance company throughout this process to ensure timely handling of your claim. If additional documentation is requested, you should provide it as quickly as possible. It is best to keep a log of your communications with the insurance company, including confirmation of how and when the insurers will make the claim payments.

How Fire Insurance Claims Are Paid

Fire insurance claims can be paid in a few different ways and largely depend on the details of your insurance policy. The adjuster will estimate a settlement amount for repairs and can offer a check during the appointment. If the repair amount is accepted, it will be allocated toward the total claim settlement. Insurance claim payments are typically calculated based on various types of damage, including structural, personal belongings, and in certain circumstances, living expenses for hotel accommodations, car rentals, meals, and so forth. In some cases, you can get an advance on a claim to cover living costs. Regardless, it is very important to review your insurance policy for claim deadlines, as most insurers allow one year from the date of the incident to pay a claim. 

Ways to Make the Insurance Claim Process Easier 

Filing a claim for fire damage can be an unsettling process, but there are ways to make the experience easier. It is important to take inventory of all damaged items and confirm estimated values with receipts. Before you begin your claim or any communications with your insurer, acquaint yourself with  the details of your policy and what it does and does not cover.  This information will help guide you through the process. You may also want to consider hiring an independent adjuster who can offer support in estimating damages for a claim and help if the insurance adjuster provides a low estimate. 

Consulting one of our firm’s property insurance attorneys to guide or represent you for an appropriate settlement may be your final step. Property insurance attorneys are recommended if the insurance company unfairly denies fire coverage under the policy or offers insufficient payment for the damages incurred. We have extensive experience in this area, and we would be happy to lend our expertise to ensure the best possible outcome in your case. Contact us to learn how we can support you through any property insurance claim or dispute.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash