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Here’s How to Respond to the Aftermath of a House Fire the Right Way

Here’s How to Respond to the Aftermath of a House Fire the Right Way

It’s very easy to understand why homeowners are so attached to where they live — it’s the roof over their family’s heads and their nest egg. Property can have a spiritually sacred dimension and a practical financial one. House fires are absolutely devastating because the physical destruction they cause corresponds to a type of inner emotional loss that is often traumatic and requires time to grieve.

While sadness and anxiety are natural responses, there are certain practical steps you must take after a house fire to protect your finances and comfort your family sooner and with less stress. Please read on to learn the best things to do after your home catches fire.

Contact Insurance ASAP

After a house fire, contacting your insurance company is the first thing you should do after finding shelter for you and your family and dialling 9-1-1. The insurance company plays a pivotal role in getting you back on your feet, repairing property damage, and replacing property damaged in the fire.

The larger the insurance claim, the more important it is to submit it quickly. Any gap in time can work against you, so attend to it as soon as you can.

Small insurance claims may not be very difficult to settle, but the story may change for larger claims, such as a total loss house fire. The home itself and everything in it could be damaged or even entirely unsalvageable.

The sooner you begin this process, the sooner you can potentially move back into your home after repairs are finished or move into a new home.

Document Property Loss

Many insurance companies are adept at finding ways to minimize what they pay out in claims. Try to anticipate what they’ll do and make their job harder by compiling photo and video evidence of the damage.

You won’t be able to start documenting the damage until you get the green light from the firefighters, but begin right away once you have it. The more evidence you have of all the property you couldn’t recover, and the better this evidence is, the harder it’ll be for the insurance company to refute the claim. Often, the insurance company will send someone out to assess the damage and perform any emergency work that may be necessary, but it is also good to collect your own evidence with pictures and videos in case there are any delays in the insurer’s ability to assess the damage.

Receipts are another crucial form of evidence, as they confirm their price and help establish that you really did own these items. Compile a Schedule of Loss, a catalogue of all the personal belongings destroyed or damaged in the fire. This will involve a list of all items damaged and assigning the approximate value of the item. You should also keep any receipts, invoices, order history from online purchases, etc., to substantiate this portion of your claim.

Help Submitting the Claim

Just because you’ve submitted the claim to insurance doesn’t mean that they’ll pay up quickly or at all. Getting help submitting a major insurance claim can help ensure you’ve followed the right guidelines and maximize the return. It will also streamline the process and make it easier and less stressful.

Leading insurance lawyers like guide you through the process and negotiate with your insurer directly if you think the settlement they posed is unfair or if the insurance company is delaying their assessment and ultimate resolution of your claim. You don’t need to submit passively to what the insurance adjuster says, as they’re hired by the insurance company to assess the damages and, therefore, are incentivized to err on their side, in the interest of keeping costs down, rather than yours.

If there’s ever a time you want experienced professionals at your side, it’s when the financial stakes are very high and you’re not in a very stable emotional place to go through the paperwork with a fine-tooth comb.

Call on Your Inner Circle

People need to rely on their closest friends and relatives in emergencies like a house fire. Emotions like anger, regret, sadness, and anxiety are not uncommon after a fire engulfs a person’s home, and nobody can provide comfort like those in your inner circle.

Friends and family provide emotional ballast that everyone who lived in the burned-up home will appreciate. Your home insurance should cover emergency expenses, like alternative accommodations, food, clothing, and more. However, you may need some assistance getting back on your feet, which friends and family are well-positioned to provide.

If you hire an insurance lawyer, they will help ensure you get all the compensation you’re entitled to. Insurance companies sometimes hope that, because you’re desperate for money after the fire, you accept their first offer, which they may make conditional on it being their final payment. Insurance lawyers can review your claim to see if what the insurer is offering is reasonable or if they are trying to get you to accept less.

You can’t have too much guidance and support for yourself and your family. Kids may be rattled and unsettled by a fire, and they may not be the only ones. Once you’ve let your close friends and family know about the fire and reassured them that you’re safe, draw on them for emotional support.

Review Your Home Insurance Policy

You can’t overstate the importance of knowing exactly what your home insurance policy covers. Naturally, it’s better to know this before the fire occurs so you can decide precisely how much coverage you need.

However, you should also be familiar with the policy to ensure you get full compensation. Insurance lawyers can really provide assistance here, as they’re intimately familiar with all the fine print and legal technicalities hidden in your policy, and they’ve seen all the tricks insurance companies use to minimize their payouts.

At the very least, after this house fire, you’ll have extra appreciation for understanding your home insurance policy in detail, so you don’t get caught unprepared in the future.

Minimize the Risk of Future Fires

House fires get started for many reasons, but a few active fire prevention tips can go a long way to ensure they don’t occur again. Make sure all your smoke alarms comply with your local laws, and that their batteries work. If possible, connect them to a hard-wired power system, so they never go out, but you should also test them monthly to be sure.

Keep flammable materials and other sources of heat in the kitchen away from heat vents. Review your fire safety plan and make sure you know how to respond quickly in the event of a fire. If you have any dangerous electronics or old knob-and-tube wiring from the 1990s or earlier, get it removed and install safe wiring.

House fires are devastating in every aspect. Please remember the above tips to help get back on your feet sooner.

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