A house fire is stressful enough without the additional stress of dealing with an insurance company. In this article, we take a look at the different steps involved in making a successful fire damage insurance claim.
Do you need help and advice regarding a home insurance claim for fire damage? Call PCLA today and arrange a free survey.
A house fire has the potential to have a devasting impact on your life. Firstly, it is imperative to make sure that everyone is safe, but after that you may need to make an insurance claim. This can be an extremely difficult and stressful process on it’s own.
The stress and anxiety that follows a house fire can be crippling. But have you considered the financial side of things? You will have the cost to repair the property, the cost to replace any damaged contents and potentially the cost to find and secure alternative accommodation.
Unfortunately, we know all too well the emotional and physical pain a fire can have. We’ve been insurance loss assessors for many years, and have helped many clients deal with the effects of these terrible catastrophes.
If your home has been damaged or destroyed by fire and you are planning to make a claim, make sure you follow these steps for making a successful home insurance claim.
What should your policy cover?
When you purchase home insurance, you are buying peace of mind. In the event of a fire your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home, as well as the cost of your belongings. But how do you know you have the right level of insurance coverage?
Insurance companies actually sell multiple types of insurance policy and this can be confusing. Most though will have cover in place for both buildings and contents.
What is home contents insurance?
“Contents insurance covers the cost of replacing or repairing your possessions if they are damaged, destroyed or stolen. It includes everything you would take with you if you moved home including your furniture, kitchen appliances, curtains, bedding, clothing, television, computing equipment and jewellery.” Source: Association of British Insurers.
Fires can cause extensive damage to your home and its contents. If you have home contents insurance, your insurance company will hopefully reimburse you for the damage.
What is buildings insurance?
According to the Association of British Insurers:
“Buildings insurance protects you against the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it is damaged or destroyed. It covers the structure of your home (e.g. the roof, walls and windows) and any permanent fixtures and fittings, such as fitted kitchen units and bathroom suites.”
You might assume that your buildings insurance policy will cover you in the event of a fire, but you should check your policy to make sure you have the right level of cover. If you have any questions about your insurance policy, please call PCLA today (028 9581 5318) and ask for advice.
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8 steps you can take to make a successful fire damage insurance claim
1. Do you know where your insurance documents are stored?
Before you can make an insurance claim, you need to make sure you have your important documents to hand. If you can’t find your insurance policy, check out the tips in this article: How do you know if your home is insured?
2. Fire insurance claims are complex – appoint an independent loss assessor.
You should engage an independent loss assessor to act on your behalf to avoid any complications with your claim. PCLA have an expert team of loss assessors and claims assessors that will manage your claim as efficiently as possible.
We will call the insurance company and manage the claim on your behalf. It’s our job to make sure you get your full entitlement so that you can return your home back to its original state.
3. Secure your home to reduce the risk of further damage.
You should make sure your home is as safe and secure as possible to prevent any additional loss. PCLA will provide guidance on how best to do this.
4. Contact your neighbours.
You should contact your close neighbours to let them know your situation. This could be a bigger issue depending on your type of home and where you live. Don’t forget that your fire could have damaged neighbouring property. You can ask PCLA to provide you with advice on how you should approach this.
5. Check the structural integrity of your home.
As qualified building surveyors, PCLA will assess the structural integrity of your home for you. This survey will help to uncover any hidden damage caused by the fire. It’s also likely that you’ll need an electrician to check the extent of the damage. We can arrange this for you. As an independent loss assessor we recommend that you get a full appraisal of the level of damage you have suffered.
6. Document the damage.
PCLA will assess the full damage that you have suffered. As experienced loss assessors, we understand how difficult a task this can be. We can arrange to take photos or videos of the damage to your home and belongings. We also have a checklist of common items that people often overlook when submitting their claim. Our job is to make sure your claim is accurate and complete.
7. Draft a loss inventory list.
You should make a list of everything you’ve lost in a document called an “inventory”. PCLA can help with this and have many years of experience creating personal property inventory lists for our clients. With our expertise we’ll ensure your insurance claim is as complete as possible.
8. Keep track of your expenses.
Your policy may reimburse you for additional living expenses incurred as a result of the fire to your home. For example, you may have to pay for temporary accommodation. It is important to keep an accurate record of these expenses as they occur. We will make sure we include all of these additional costs when submitting your claim form.
Why you should appoint PCLA to act on your behalf
If you’re experiencing the devastation caused by a house fire, the last thing you want to do is deal with the insurance company.
PCLA are expert fire damage claims consultants who know how to deal with your insurance provider. As qualified building surveyors, we know where to look to find ‘hidden damage’.
If you want to make sure you get your full entitlement you should appoint an independent loss assessor to act on your behalf. At PCLA we have an expert team of loss assessors who understand insurance policies and know how to correctly submit a valid claim.
How to negotiate a home insurance claim
The key to successfully negotiating a fire damage insurance claim is to fully understand the terms of your policy and to clearly document and present evidence when submitting your claim.
You should also be aware that there are many reasons why an insurance provider may decline your claim. Some examples include lack of fire alarms, ongoing building work or if the property was empty.
Insurance companies will appoint a loss adjuster to assess your claim. These are expert claims negotiators employed by your insurance company.
It is their job to review your claim and estimate the cost of repairs. They will compile a detailed report for their employer and provide justification for their findings.
The onus is on you to make sure that your claim is as detailed and factual as possible, to ensure you get the settlement you are entitled to.
Our loss assessors will manage the insurance claim process for you, and compile the necessary paperwork. We will make sure that your claim is as accurate as possible.
We will also meet with the loss adjuster to make sure they are aware of the full extent of your claim, including any hidden damage that could be missed.
As an independent loss assessor, PCLA works on your behalf. With our specialist insurance claims knowledge, we will strive to get you the best possible settlement figure.
What does your insurance policy provide for after a fire?
Depending on the extent of the damage and your level of cover, the policy should provide enough compensation to cover repair costs and the cost of building materials.
You should also be reimbursed if you have incurred additional costs to make the building safe.
If you are unfortunate enough to experience your house burning down, the policy should allow for a rebuild. This replacement home should conform to modern building specifications and building control regulations.
Your policy should also provide restitution for additional living expenses. It is important that you keep a record of any expenses (and receipts) as you will need to file a claim for these.
Does Insurance Pay for Smoke Damage?
Your home contents insurance policy should provide cover for smoke damage. PCLA can assist you in identifying what items you can recover costs for.
Smoke damage can generate substantial costs and often you will need to seek replacement costs for home furnishings that have been destroyed due to smoke damage.
Clients often underestimate how much their possessions are worth or they fail to maintain an inventory. PCLA will help you identify and record all of your losses so that you can make a complete insurance claim.
Find out how PCLA can help you
Following these steps should ensure that you are able to get the settlement that you are entitled to from your insurance provider. However, if you have experienced a fire in your home call PCLA today to make sure you get expert help and support.