No one ever expects a fire to happen to them, but when it does, it's important to be prepared. Fire and smoke damage to your house can require a lot of work to restore it to its previous condition. If your home is damaged by fire, you will likely need to file a claim with your insurance company. This can be a daunting process, but with the right information, you can make it through fairly easily. In this blog post, our Texas attorneys will discuss some of the best practices for dealing with insurance companies after a fire damage incident. Keep reading for more information!
Initial Steps to Take
Fire is one of the most destructive forces a homeowner can face. Not only does it cause extensive damage to property, but it also creates a serious safety hazard. In the event of a fire, the first priority should be evacuating the premises and ensuring that everyone is safe. Once the immediate danger has passed, the homeowners should contact their insurance company and begin the process of making a claim. It is important to take photos of the damage before taking any steps to mitigate it. This will provide documentation of the full extent of the damage for the insurance company. In addition, it is important to take reasonable steps to prevent further damage from occurring. The costs associated with these mitigation efforts will be covered by the insurance policy. Some examples of how to mitigate fire and smoke damage include the following.
- Ventilate and circulate the air in the home
- Stop any smoldering
- Board it up to prevent vandalism
- Cover carpets after removing soot to prevent it from being tracked on the floor
- Remain vigilant as new problems may arise
Dealing With your Insurance Company
Homeowners insurance policies typically require that the policyholder report any loss as soon as possible after it occurs. This can be done by contacting the agent or insurer, either by phone or email. Once the loss is reported, the policyholder will be required to submit a "proof of loss claim." This claim will itemize the losses and specify the value of each one. The insurance company will then use this information to process the claim and determine the amount of reimbursement due. By reporting a loss promptly and submitting a complete and accurate proof of loss claim, homeowners can help to ensure that their claims are processed quickly and smoothly.
It's important to keep track of all communication with the company, including phone calls, emails, and letters. This will help ensure that you have a record of what was said if there is a disagreement later about who said what to whom, and when. In addition, keep all relevant documentation in a three-ring binder, including estimates, invoices, bills, permits, and contracts for repairs. And never part with an original document; if the insurance company wants to see an invoice or bid, make them a copy. Your insurer will want to close your claim as soon as possible, but it's important to resist this pressure. The longer your claim is open, the greater the chance that you'll discover and file a claim for an additional loss. However, homeowners often discover losses that they initially overlooked, perhaps because of the stress of living through the disaster. Protect against this possibility by waiting at least a few months before allowing your claim to be closed. By taking this precaution, you can ensure that all of your losses are properly accounted for and compensated.
When to Seek Legal Action
If you’ve experienced a house fire, it’s important to take the time to understand your insurance policy and file a claim. Unfortunately, many homeowners are met with resistance from their insurance company or are given an insufficient amount of money to cover the damages. In these cases, it’s helpful to have legal representation who understands property law and can help get you the settlement you deserve. The Voss Law Firm, P.C. has been protecting policyholders’ rights for the past 16 years and, in that time, we’ve recovered billions of dollars in settlements for our clients. Ready to find out what we can do for you? Complete our online contact form or call our office at 888-614-7730 to schedule an appointment for a free initial consultation with a member of our legal team. We work on contingency, so you pay nothing unless we win your case.