My house burned down. Now what?

Ginger Dean

January 13, 2015

By: Ginger Dean, Home Finance Specialist

In: Finance and Legal

Hopefully you'll never have to experience the devastating effects of your home being burned down or badly damaged by a fire. We've all seen the west coast fires ravaging homes in it's path. The people left behind not only have to deal with the tragic personal losses, but the toll of the physical loss of their home. This brings along with it incredible stress, so today we're discussing what to do in the event of a fire and how to handle the damages and losses with your insurance company.

Call your insurance company

It may sounds obvious, but it's an important first step. Once you're healthy, safe, and sound, call your insurance company to report damages and losses. ABC News reports the following information is needed to process your claim properly:

Date of loss

Type of loss or damage

Location of damage

Any related injuries

Others involved

Condition of the home

Description of damaged contents

Whether or not temporary repairs are necessary

A police report

Once they have this information, then the claim is processed and you'll receive a call or get information around when you'll be meeting with an adjuster to review the claim, assess the damage and discuss next steps.

Meet with the insurance adjuster

Your adjuster will be scheduled to meet with you once the claim has been reported to the insurance company. It is important that you ask all questions you have, big or small. You'll want to understand your coverage limits, exclusions as it relates to repairs, and replacements for your home. How much do you owe? When will the check be disbursed? To whom is the check made? What is your home worth? Will you rebuild? Does it make sense to repair or replace the home entirely? These are just a few questions you'll need answered in your discussions with the insurance agent.

Next steps: shelter for you and storage for recovered items

Your insurance company will typically cover your stay in a local hotel while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. Discuss the limits on this benefit (if any) and make sure you understand everything. How much per day will they cover? Does the benefit include food? Does it cover clothing for immediate needs such as work or school? How long will they cover your stay in a hotel? How soon will the repairs or rebuild begin? Do they work with the hotel on payment? Make sure you understand what your responsibilities are, and what the company can take off your plate.

Dealing with a loss related to fire is an incredibly stressful event. Understanding all of the moving parts from the insurance report down to the check being written and what to do with it is imperative. Talking to the insurance company may be the last thing on your mind but you'll be glad since this is exactly what they are here for: peace of mind when life throws the inevitable curve ball.

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