After a house fire or flood and after your family is safe, opening an insurance claim is one of the first things you should. The sooner you open the claim, the sooner you begin to receive payment; and ultimately the sooner you can start the process of rebuilding.
In the aftermath of a house fire, while managing the stresses and emotions your family will be going through, it can be easy to miss the details of the process. There are a few basic steps to keep in mind.
#1 Review Your Policy
Review your policy to check the type of coverage you have, what limits and exclusions might apply, and what damages are covered. The declaration pages summarize the key points of your coverage, which in full-length can be many pages long. Start with the declaration pages for the most relevant points and figures. If you cannot find your policy, your insurer can provide a copy upon request. You will ultimately want to review your complete policy, though you may want the help of a public adjuster or insurance lawyer since it can be very confusing.
#2 Request an Advance for Additional Living Expenses (ALEs)
ALEs are expenses above and beyond your family’s normal expenditures that occur as a result of the loss. ALEs can include:
- The cost of a short-term hotel stay;
- Money spent on food above and beyond your usual grocery budget (take-out costs more than groceries);
- Rental costs for long-term accommodations; or
- Excess fuel or transportation costs.
These immediate expenses can be costly, but you can request an advance from your insurer before your claim is finalized. Keep receipts, and remember that the amount they advance will ultimately be deducted from the settlement.
#3 Inventory Lost and Damaged Items
In order to receive full compensation from your Contents Insurance, you will need to compile a comprehensive list of lost and damaged personal belongings. Ask your family about what they remember. Review photos on social media or in saved photo albums. Call your friends for help. This process can take months, which is why some families submit a provisional inventory but wait to sign off on a final version until they are certain they have remembered everything.
#4 Learn About the Payment Process
The process of getting compensated may differ depending on the damage or your insurer. For example, you may not receive 100% of your compensation for Contents Insurance until you have replaced those contents and can provide receipts. When it comes to structural damage, the insurance company may pay the contractor directly.
#5 Contact a Public Adjuster or Insurance Lawyer
A public adjuster or insurance lawyer can help you with all of the above steps. They work for you to help you receive a fair insurance claim, as well as alleviate the burden of managing the process at a stressful time.
For more information on making an insurance claim after a fire or flood, a guide like this can help. Now is not the time to try and do everything alone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; contact a professional such as a public adjuster, and ask for help from family and friends.
Your insurance claim gives you the means to recover after a disaster. Take steps to ensure your family receives an appropriate settlement.