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What To Do Immediately Following A Fire

Tim Nolte

Tim Nolte,

  • Make sure all family members and pets are accounted for
    • It will most likely be one of the most stressful things you have encountered in your life to that point. It is one of those things that, until you experience it, you truly don’t know how to prepare for it.  Even after the fire trucks arrive, it can be very chaotic and disorienting standing outside of a fire scene.  Your first priority should always be the safety and accountability of your loved ones.  All of your material possession can, and will, be replaced by your insurance company.
  • Notify your insurance company
    • There are certain obligations you owe to your insurance company under the terms of your policy, one of those obligations is promptly notifying them of your claim. When notifying your insurance company of the claim they will ask you a number of questions regarding the circumstances of your loss.  If you are unsure of exactly what happened at the time you speak with your insurance company it is okay to tell them that.  You can give them more details later after you have had the opportunity to calm down and assess the situation.  This helps in preventing any inconsistencies that may arise later on in the claim process.
  • Secure the property and mitigate the damage
    • Another one of those obligations is to secure the property and mitigate the damage. Your insurance company can help you choose a restoration company to board up your doors and windows and clean up any glass or debris that may be on the property, however, in many instances, there may be some of those companies already on scene waiting to speak with you after the Fire Marshall clears the scene.  While it is extremely important to secure your property it is equally important to protect your own rights.  You should be mindful of what you are signing and consider limiting the scope of their work to securing the property until you are able to speak to an Attorney from Keches Law Group.
  • Once the scene is cleared, and if possible, remove valuables
    • After the Fire Marshal clears the scene, if it is deemed safe, they may allow you to go back into your home to retrieve any items you may need. You want to use this time to pack what you and your family will need to live off of for at least the first few days of your displacement.  You also want to collect any valuable items that you may have in your house, such as jewelry, birth certificates, social security cards, among other items.
  • Find somewhere to stay
    • Your insurance policy should have coverage for additional living expenses, the amount of this coverage varies from policy to policy. If you have this coverage, your insurance company will use it to put you up in a hotel while they make arrangements for more long-term accommodations.  If you do not have adequate coverage and are unable to stay with friends or family, you should reach out to a disaster organization such as the Red Cross or Salvation Army and they will find shelter for you and your loved ones.
  • Document as much as possible
    • Taking photographs and videos after a fire is a good way to document your loss and protect your rights. Your insurance company may ask for certain documentation throughout the claim process, or on some occasions, may dispute portions of your claim.  Having photographs allows you to provide evidence to the insurance company to support your claim.  In addition to photographs, you should keep receipts for any purchases you make after being displaced from your home.  In some occasions, people are either unable to gather personal items or they are destroyed altogether in the fire.  In these instances, keeping receipts for the purchase of clothing and other necessities may be submitted to the insurance company for reimbursement.  In addition, you want to keep the receipts for any food that you purchase while displaced from your home.  You may be entitled to the difference in the amount of money you typically spend each week at the grocery store to the extra incurred expenses of having to order most of your meals.
  • Cooperate with your insurance company
    • Throughout the entire claim process, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case may ask for certain documents or additional access to your property. While it is very important to cooperate with the insurance company’s investigation it is more important to protect your own rights.
  • Contact Keches Law Group, P.C.
    • The Attorneys at Keches Law Group have the experience and expertise to ensure you are being treated fairly by your insurance company while maximizing the amount of your claim. The consultation is free, and you pay nothing unless a settlement is reached or a judgment is rendered in your favor.
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