What Does the Fire Insurance Claims Process Look Like for Homeowners?

In the aftermath of a fire, filing your home insurance claim is an important step to rebuilding and recovering. Your home insurance provides critical funds that will help you repair your home so that things can get back to normal.

If you find yourself in a position where you have to make a fire insurance claim, this is the process you can expect.

1 Contacting the Insurance Company

First, you are responsible for contacting the insurance company in a quick and timely manner to notify them of the loss. They should be informed immediately after the loss. You will also have to initiate a claim in writing officially, but a call to your insurance company should come quickly after you become aware of a loss.

2 Requesting an Advance

Once your claim has been initiated, you may want to request an advance on your claim to help pay for immediate expenses. There are several things you will have to pay for immediately, such as a hotel or motel, new clothes, and electronics that you and your family need for work and school but were damaged as a result of the loss.

The average cost of a new laptop is between $600 and $750. If you need one for work or your kids need them for school, that can be a lot to pay for upfront. An advance can help, and it will be deducted from your final settlement later on.

3 Getting Help with Your Claim

The larger your claim, the more it may make sense to get help with it. There are a couple of professionals who can assist with this type of home insurance claim, including a fire damage public adjuster or an insurance lawyer.

They can help by going over your policy with you, explaining complicated legal language, and comparing your coverage to the offer made by the insurance company. They can be an invaluable resource during the claims process by speeding it up and advocating for you to get a fair settlement at the end.

4 Working with the Insurance Adjuster

In addition to any professional that you work with yourself, there will also be an insurance adjuster who works for the insurance company. They are responsible for putting together a list of all the work that needs to be done on your home and reviewing the list of lost/damaged belongings you want the insurance company to cover.

5 Signing Off on Your Claim

The final step in the process will be signing off on your claim. The insurance company will provide an offer based on their evaluation of the extent of the damage and the cost of repairing your home and replacing your belongings. 

Keep in mind that you do not necessarily have to agree to the first amount that they offer. Often, insurance companies treat this as a negotiating point. If you can back up your argument that your policy should provide more coverage, they may agree to offer a larger sum.

Negotiating with the insurer can be easier with the help of a public adjuster or an insurance lawyer. They may even bring in second opinions from contractors if they believe that you are receiving too little compensation for structural repairs.

The cost of fixing up after a fire can vary widely, from a few thousand dollars for smoke damage restoration to $100-plus per square foot for a total rebuild.

When you have to make a fire insurance claim, these are the basic steps that you can expect to encounter.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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