A house fire is the last thing you want to think about over the holidays, but it is also the time of the year when house fires are most common. There are several reasons for the uptick in house fires around the holidays, including:
- People spend more time in the kitchen making elaborate meals.
- There are family, young children, and guests who can distract you from the kitchen.
- Candles and fireplaces can lead to fires if proper precautions are not taken.
- The start of the cold weather season can lead to furnace malfunctions.
Families would be wise to check out and follow fire safety tips for the holidays, but there is another side to a house fire: making an insurance claim. Should your family face a house fire, these are the steps you should take to ensure your claim goes smoothly.
1. Contact Your Insurance Company
Contacting the insurance company in a timely manner is a surprisingly important part of your claim. You must inform the insurance company soon after a loss. You can start by calling the company, but you will also have to initiate the claim in writing.
While there may be many things on your mind, do not delay when it comes to telling your insurance company about the loss. You may lose out on financial compensation or have the whole claim denied if you wait too long.
2. Contact a Lawyer for Property Damage
Insurance claims can be a lengthy and complex process. The larger the loss, the more likely it is that you can benefit from hiring a lawyer for property damage. This is a professional who can help you with all of the paperwork of your claim and help you negotiate with your insurance company when there are disagreements.
3. Document the Property Damage
There are several steps involved in documenting the extent of the property damage. First, take photos of your home and the extent of the damage. If there are future disagreements about structural damage, photos can help.
You will also have to document lost personal belongings. In this case, it helps to refer to photos of your home taken before the fire. You can also use online receipts and anything else at your disposal to create a comprehensive list of lost belongings. Do not forget about the possible presence of holiday gifts you may have had in your home.
4. Negotiate with the Insurance Company
Once all of the paperwork for your claim has been submitted, the insurance company will review it, and with recommendations from the insurance adjuster, they will offer you a settlement. At this point, you can review their offer and negotiate if you believe they have undervalued any part of your loss. You do not necessarily have to accept their first offer.
5. Budget Your Expenses
Once you have a clearer idea of the amount you should receive from the insurance company, it is up to you to make sure it covers your costs.
The insurance company likely will not pay out everything at once. For structural damage, the insurer may make staggered payments, issuing partial payments at the beginning of work, halfway through work, and when work has been completed.
However, if you want to work with your own contractor, the insurer may make a lump sum payment, in which case you will have to budget for the progress carefully.
In the case of lost personal belongings, you may accept a lump sum payment to replace belongings at your discretion, or you may need to wait to be reimbursed by the insurance company once you can prove that you have replaced lost contents. An insurance lawyer can help you with presenting these offers in an organized way so that you are in the best position to receive a favourable outcome.