According to FEMA, fire deaths in the United States have been declining steadily over the course of the past 12 years. But, this doesn't mean that fire safety is no longer something to concern yourself with, or that homeowners insurance that could cover you in case of a fire shouldn't be at the top of your list of priorities. If you've suffered property damage due to a fire, one of the first steps you should consider taking as soon as the smoke has cleared and everyone has been accounted for is to begin the claims process. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be on the road to rebuilding. Here are some tips to consider when submitting a fire insurance claim:
Make first contact. Once the firefighters have put out the fire and you are safe, call your insurance company and report the claim. Most insurance policies require you to give prompt notice of any claim.
Get answers. When you have your insurance company on the phone, get answers to all of your questions. Find out if you're covered. If so, what is your deductible? When can an adjustor visit? Will you need to get estimates for the damage done and for the cost of repair?
Put it in writing. Your insurer may require you to submit a summary in writing of everything that happened leading up to the fire. This includes also putting in writing a description of the damaged property. Make a list of all belongings that were damaged or destroyed in the fire and note their value.
Protect your home. Take steps to protect your home from any further damage. If the fire destroyed a portion of your roof, make any necessary repairs to ensure that the inside of your home doesn't incur any more damage in the time it takes for the repairs to be undertaken and finished.
Save your receipts. Keep track of all expenditures and save your receipts. You'll need them in order to possibly be reimbursed by the insurance company. If your home is so damaged that it has become uninhabitable, save receipts from any hotels you stay in and any meals or other associated costs you incur while waiting for your home to be repaired. You can later submit these for reimbursement, if you have additional living expenses coverage.
Provide any and all additional information. Once you're assigned a claims representative to work with, you'll have a central point of contact with your insurance company. Work with your assigned representative to get them all of the necessary information to process your insurance claim speedily.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You've heard this saying dozens of times before, no doubt. But, when it comes to the issue of home insurance, those words hold especially true. According to the Insurance Information Institute, there are three critical things you should do before—and not after—you have to file a claim. Doing them can help to make the claims process much smoother.
- Understand your insurance policy thoroughly. If you have questions after reviewing your policy, make the effort to talk to your insurance agent and ask them to explain everything so you have a better understanding.
- Know what's covered and what's not. Never make any assumptions based on what other people have told you is "probably covered." If you're unsure about what is covered in your policy, you should ask your agent.
- Learn the insurance claims process in advance. Simply familiarizing yourself with the process now may make it easier for you to do so in the future.
Nobody wants to think about filing a claim after a house fire. But often, the best way to guarantee that you can handle a difficult situation is to face the possibility square on and prepare yourself for it. Believe it or not, this can actually go a long way toward easing your fears and anxieties.
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