Most homeowners are novices when it comes to presenting an insurance claim or negotiating the intricacies of a claim. They would rather hand over the reins to a public adjuster who will wrangle with the insurer on their behalf and get the best settlement for the losses covered.
Some homeowners choose to go through the insurance claim process on their own… along the way, they learn a few tricks and pick up a few traits that help them negotiate the best settlement with an insurance claims adjuster. Ideally, they get fully reimbursed for all their property damages.
What about in the case of a fire? Is that the kind of situation where a homeowner goes through the insurance claim process on their own? Hopefully not. That’s when it makes sense to hire a public adjuster who is well-versed with the intricacies of a claim, as house fire damages can get complicated.
After a house fire, what are some things to do?
Get hold of your insurance policies and contact your agent:
After a fire, do you have a copy of your insurance or was it destroyed in the fire? You might need to get a current copy from your insurance agent. If needed, the bank will inform you of the insurer and the insurer will give you the agent particulars.
Ask for immediate monetary help:
Call your insurance company and ask them for an advance to take care of urgent needs caused by the fire, such as covering the roof to mitigate damages to the property on account of rainy/snowy weather. Secure the property according to guidelines provided by the local fire department and/or building guidelines.
Make an inventory of lost/damaged items:
This is the most crucial step to get things right in order to maximize your claim amount! Review any proof of loss form sent to you by your agent but don’t sign on the dotted line… assume that the initial amount submitted is probably not the realistic claim amount. It will typically take a month or more to inventory all your lost or damaged items; you should provide an immediate list of items as initial proof of loss, leaving room for an undetermined amount since it takes time to account for everything.
Ask your family and friends to help out:
Seek the help of friends and family to figure out the prices of various items at the time they were purchased. If you have old receipts, they can help you go through those. Ideally, items should be supported with detailed documents and price lists. Make sure you keep price lists along with the receipts to submit to the insurer during claim settlement. Keep track of other costs resulting from clean-up, repairs and funds that your insurance company gives you and make a note of how you utilized those funds. Cooperate with your insurance company and record all your communications with them. Keep detailed notes!
The insurance company and the insurance agent do care about you… but when money comes into the frame of things, they do not hold your best interests at heart. They will try to downplay your tragedy and minimize your losses. Your public adjuster is on your side, helping you document things, submit things, and, ultimately, helping you get adequate compensation for your loss.