After a property fire, it is common to feel pressure to resolve a fire insurance claim as quickly as possible, especially if the property that suffered fire damage is your home. Depending on the severity the fire damage, you may have quite an ordeal ahead of you, one that may resolve unsatisfactorily or may trail on for months or years if the insurance company does not meet their obligations in a reasonable time period.
For many victims of property fires, striking a balance between these two extremes is more difficult than they anticipate, leading to settlements that do not fully address the losses from the fire or that take far too long to finalize. If you suffered fire damage to your property, be sure to take the proper steps to protect yourself and ensure that your insurer compensates you fully in a reasonable amount of time.
Getting independent repair estimates
If you receive repair estimates from a contractor or adjuster affiliated with the insurance company, then there is a very high likelihood that the figures he or she provides are slanted in the insurer’s favor. In some cases, the figures are heavily weighted in the insurer’s favor, leaving you with nowhere near the recovery funds that you deserve.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to avoid this pitfall is by hiring an independent contractor to come out and assess the damage. As a party that works for you and not the insurance company, the contractor is more likely to offer you fair, complete estimates of what it will actually take to repair or rebuild the lost property.
It is also important to consider the contractor’s experience in working with insurance companies, not only his or her skill and experience as a contractor. While you certainly want whoever you hire to perform high-quality work, it is also very useful if they have experience navigating dealings with insurance companies, to avoid further complications.
Documenting your losses
Ultimately, you want to receive a fair settlement from your insurer that allows you to replace your losses as closely as you can. This means accounting for every piece of property damaged or lost in the fire to determine the full value of the structure and all of the other affected property just before the fire occurred.
This generally means making detailed lists of all of your damaged possessions, and assessing fair market prices for them. It is likely that the insurer won’t want to pay full price and may present any number of reasons why you should not expect it to do so. The more detailed accounting you provide as a part of your own independent assessment, the firmer the footing you have when it comes to negotiating a fair settlement.
Recovering from a property fire can turn into a protracted nightmare if not handled carefully. make sure to focus your attention on protecting your own rights and priorities as you fight for fair treatment, using all of your available resources. Otherwise, your insurer may take advantage of your loss for its own benefit.