When a fire damages your home, taking the steps necessary to submit an insurance claim, work out issues with your insurance company, and get repair work done can be very difficult. However, by following the steps outlined in this blog post and consulting with an experienced fire damage attorney if you have any problems, you should be able to recover payment from your insurance company and get your home repaired satisfactorily.
Working with Your Insurance Company
After a fire, when your family’s safety is ensured, one of the first things you should do is contact your insurance company. They will send out an adjuster, who will assess the fire damage. To protect yourself from scammers, make sure you get the adjuster’s name from your insurance company and verify their identity before letting them into your home.
In preparation for dealing with your insurance company, it’s always a good idea to document all of your losses as thoroughly as possible, Take pictures of the damage and make a complete list of items that were ruined or need repairing. Record the amount you paid for the damaged items and attach receipts, if available. Hopefully, this documentation will expedite the filing of your claim and payment from your insurance company.
When the adjuster comes to assess the damage to your home, make sure he sees everything that was damaged from the fire. By all means, give him your list of damaged items with prices and receipts, and keep a copy for yourself. Also, be sure to get the adjuster’s contact information and stay in touch with him via email, so you have a written record of your communications.
Keeping a record of all communication with your insurance company and getting a copy of everything in writing is, in fact, recommended. If there are disagreements or if you are assigned a new adjuster, having a file of written communication can be very helpful.
Understanding Your Homeowner’s Policy
It’s also recommended that you try to clarify what’s covered by your homeowner’s policy. Besides covering smoke and fire damage, your policy should cover any damage firefighters might have caused while putting out the fire. It might also provide coverage for normal living expenses if you can’t live in your home while it’s being repaired, debris removal, and damaged landscaping.
While most homeowners’ policies have standard coverage for fire damage, you could find that your insurer says that your policy excludes specific kinds of damage, such as mold that developed from water used to extinguish the fire. Or perhaps they say your policy has limits on the damage, and their estimate doesn’t come close to providing you enough to make repairs or replace what you have lost. In cases such as these, you should ask your insurance company representative to explain his estimate in writing, including reasons why certain items aren’t covered and contact an experienced fire damage attorney if you are not satisfied with the explanation.
Getting Help from an Experienced Fire Damage Attorney
If your insurance company is using ambiguity in your policy to underpay you, it’s time to contact an experienced fire damage attorney. A lawyer who knows insurance law and has experience helping clients fight insurance companies to obtain what is rightfully theirs will able to help you get the settlement you need.
An experienced fire damage attorney can also help with other worrisome issues that occur with insurance companies. For example, there could be hidden damage from water, smoke, or ash that the adjuster didn’t note on his visit to your home. Delays in payment and repair work could have caused additional damage. In addition, repairs could have been done improperly or inconsistently, or the cleaning of items covered by your insurance could have been inadequate to remove the smell of smoke.
Mold damage from water used to put out the fire presents another issue. Most insurance companies now have mold damage exclusions written into their homeowners’ policies. However, some types of mold damage could be covered, depending on the specific wording in your policy. Also, if your company did not pay for adequate cleaning and drying and, therefore, mold developed, then the damage could be covered.
Finally, in some instances, insurance companies deny or underpay fire damage claims, leaving homeowners with significant losses. If this happens to you, it’s definitely time to get help from an experienced fire damage attorney.
The insurance attorneys of Malik Law have successfully helped clients throughout Florida file, settle and litigate fire damage insurance claims. Contact us today so we can help you recover what is rightfully yours.