Most insurance policies in Florida cover fire damage in homes and offices. Living in a state with warm weather and not having insurance is a catastrophe waiting to happen. The spark of a mere tailpipe can create an raging wildfire, while forgetting your cookies in the oven might cause your house to go up in flames.
A lot of fire damage doesn’t involve charred wreckage. The heat from a fire can easily melt plastic possessions, even if it doesn’t burn the room. Fire extinguisher foam can destroy certain items. That’s why proper fire insurance is necessary if you want to save yourself from expensive repairs.
How insurance policies for fires work
Fires are devastating, and you need to recover what you’ve lost after one strikes – and for this, your insurance policies is usually your knight in shining armor. Many people take out home insurance policies such as a Perils Policy and All Risks Policy, which cover fire damage (unless it is specifically excluded).
Insurance companies typically provide the following coverage in their policies:
- Homeowners Insurance
- Renters Insurance
- Business Insurance
- Car Insurance
- Boat/ATV Insurance
Since your claim will involve the restoration and recovery of lost property, you will need a thorough investigation and documentation of your losses. Your insurance provider will try hard to find loopholes in your policy to avoid honoring your claim.
If your documentation proves conclusively that damage inside your dwelling included structural damage, smoke damage, water damage, ruined plumbing or wiring, foundation damage, and destruction of personal property, you will more than likely be compensated.
Tips for Claiming Fire Damage Insurance
Insurance companies always try to cut corners on insurance claims. They will hold you responsible, imply bad faith, or hold you responsible for not mitigating further damage – all in order to save money.
Follow these instructions, even if you don’t sense an incoming disaster.
- Ask for an advance
A fire can be awful for you and those you live with. Even though you will not be thinking clearly immediately after a fire, your instant response should be to call your insurance provider and ask for an advance. You may have to leave your home and live elsewhere for a few days while things get cleaned up.
Asking for an advance to pay for a few days at a motel or essentials such as clothes and toiletries is a rational act. Don’t splurge on inessentials, since your expenses will be deducted from your total compensation amount. The “actual cash value” you receive later will be required to restore your home.
Remember, your insurance company will reimburse you for living expenses such as the extra money you spend on hotel bills, laundry, and restaurant meals. If you’re staying at someone’s else’s home, ask them to monetize your expenses. Remind them that they are saving the insurance company from further expenses according to the policy’s “loss of use” clause.
- Document your losses
You will want to document everything you’ve lost before your insurance adjuster appears. This will require time and patience, but try to list every article ruined in the fire before you file your claim.
Some of your family members will want to throw away burnt items. Instead, try to figure out what they were and save them so the adjuster can better understand your loss. They won’t believe in the existence of anything they don’t see.
- Mitigate your damage
An insurance company has the power to claim that you did not secure your property responsibly. You’re liable for the proper care and security of your property and its contents. This is known as “mitigating damage”.
Here are a few ways to prevent further damage after a fire:
- Cover up damaged walls and the roof to secure property inside
- Build a temporary fence to prevent burglary
- Get rid of soot and smoke, as they damage items
- Secure unharmed articles that are susceptible to damage
File your claim ASAP
According to your policy, you have to call your insurance company as soon as possible after you suffer a loss. They will ask you for a “proof of loss claim” that will require you to provide the following details:
- Date of incident
- Location of incident
- Type of damage
- Related injuries
- Others around you
- State of residence
- Detail of damaged articles
- Urgent temporary repairs
- Police report
- Document all communications
Any lack of communication with your insurer will be held against you, so keep track of all calls, emails, letters, bills, permits, invoices and read the documents they send you, even if they are mind-numbing. This is a battle, and you must win. Keep everything organized separately in folders and be present during conversations. They will notice and record anything odd. If your company sees you are being proactive or have hired an attorney, they will be encouraged to settle your claim faster.
- Wait before you close your claim
Wait a few months before you close your claim. Your insurance company will try their best to settle your fire insurance claim as soon as they can. Stay put. You might have forgotten to include a valuable item in your initial claim. The longer you wait, the more you can protect yourself from monetary loss.
Insurance companies often to try slip in a claim closure with their payment. You should strike out any sections that mention closure and replying with gratitude for the payment.
Also, keep paying your premiums, and try to cut your costs. There may be additional payments you can get them to cover, such as therapy.
Why should you contact an attorney
It’s common for insurance companies to deny or underpay claims. If you feel you can’t dela with the insurance company’s demands – and to avoid the worst-case scenario, being accused of insurance fraud – hire an insurance attorney immediately. Louis Law Group is a Florida law firm whose attorneys are skilled at handling insurance claims.
The advantage of having an attorney is that they understand building codes and policies. Ask them to be present when filing a claim or allow them to file a claim on your behalf. An insurance attorney will fight for a fair and just settlement of your claim while you deal with your own stress.