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Fire insurance claims: what you should know and do

A house fire is an unexpected, frightening experience that can leave you feeling unsettled, confused, and with a deep sense of loss. These feelings may linger for weeks or even months after the actual event. The last thing you need is a struggle with the insurance company over getting the compensation you are entitled to. It’s no secret that insurance companies often look for excuses to deny claims or pay less than they should. What can you do to ensure that you get full coverage after a fire?

Inventory everything and don’t throw anything away

Make a complete, accurate list of everything you lost in the fire. You’ll want to begin as soon as possible, while it is still fresh in your mind, but take enough time to make sure you remember everything. This might require a “team effort” – get the help of everyone in the family. It will probably be easier to remember and categorize items by room, i.e., living room, kitchen, bedrooms, etc.

It may be tempting to begin throwing away items that were damaged by fire, smoke, or water. But that would be a mistake; the insurance company may refuse to compensate you for items you don’t have. The best way to prove to the insurance adjuster that you owned the items is to keep them. Such “physical evidence” is difficult to refute.

Secure your home

Unless the home is a total loss, insurance companies expect you to take reasonable measures to protect your property from further damage. Anything that is still smoldering should be put out or removed from the home to prevent further fire or smoke damage. Holes in the roof or walls should be covered to provide protection from the elements, and items that could be at risk of further damage should be moved (for example, an expensive painting or television shouldn’t be near a hole in the roof). If you vacate the home, secure doors, windows, and structural damage against looters.

Don’t close the claim until you are ready

It’s your decision when to close the claim. The insurance company will likely want to close as soon as possible – and may use pressure or small print to try to get you to do so – but keeping it open could be to your advantage. Under the stress of losing valuable possessions, not to mention damage to your home, you may not be able to remember all of your property. It could be weeks or even months later that you remember something that was lost in the fire. If the claim is already closed, you can’t get compensated for it.

Keep paying premiums

After you file the claim – and do this as soon as possible – continue to pay your premiums. You’ll want to keep your policy active and up-to-date; if any further damage occurs, either related to the fire or not, you’ll be covered.

If your fire insurance claim has been denied, or the insurance company is dragging its feet in paying, contact a qualified, experienced attorney for help. Resolving a fire claim can be a long, confusing process, and dealing with adjusters and investigators can be tricky. An attorney can help you negotiate this maze and come out of it with the compensation you deserve.

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The Law Office of Jessica Taylor, PLLC

The Law Office of Jessica Taylor, PLLC
14100 San Pedro Avenue
Suite 602
San Antonio, TX 78232

Phone: 210-265-6759
Phone: (210) 402-4022
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