A gentleman named Albert contacted me with an article he wrote on how to manage yourself and your claim when you have a loss. I share it here for you all.
How to Deal with Insurance Adjusters After a House Fire
Suffering through a house fire can be a traumatic and trying experience. It may result in the loss of prized family possessions, furniture, or even a home. What makes it even more difficult is having to deal with insurance adjusters after enduring through a horrific event. As we all know, dealing with insurance adjusters isn’t always a pleasant experience. Here, we’ll go through a few tips you should consider if you find yourself in the unenviable position of dealing with an insurance adjuster after a house fire.
File an Immediate Claim
It should come as no surprise, but your first course of action (after the fire has been extinguished, your property secured, and you and your family escorted to safety) is to file an insurance claim. This is not only a policy requirement, but it’s also a great idea. You want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible to have your home repaired quickly and restore order back into your life. Your claim will include the date of the incident, the type of damage, the location of the damage, any injuries of the parties involved, a police report, and a description of lost goods.
Make a Detailed List
A major component of your claim will be a completed proof of loss claim. This is where you’ll list and value the items damaged in the fire. Many adjusters ask that this list include the date of purchase, the brand name and serial number, the price of the item and its description, and so forth.
This is information that very few homeowners have. Therefore, it’s a good idea to keep a home inventory of all your property. If you haven’t done this ahead of time, there are steps you can take to ensure you get the full value for your lost merchandise. We suggest checking bank records and photographs for proof of lost property.
You’ll be speaking with, emailing, and exchanging letters and documents with local officials, insurance adjusters, lawyers, contractors, and others during this process. Make sure to document all of your conversations, get copies to all the records, and ask for the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of everyone you have been in contact with.
You should get a binder or a folder to specifically file the claims process and keep all pertinent information in. There won’t be any need to argue with adjusters over the logistics because you’ll have all the information in one place. It will also help you stay on top of contract estimates, invoices, bills, receipts, and more.
Write It Down
When you speak with your adjuster—whether over the phone or in person—have a dedicated notebook to document all your conversations. Write down the date and time of each conversation, what you may have discussed, and notate any promises, guarantees, or statements of delivery. You’ll be glad to have an updated record of all your discussions.
Document Living Expenses
Part of your insurance policy is a loss of use clause. This entitles you to reimbursement for living expenses while you are without a home. However, this doesn’t mean that your insurance agency will foot the bill for lavish expenses. Document any food, travel, and housing expenses you may incur when displaced. Additionally, consider discussing any expenses with your insurance adjuster before you start spending.’
Get the Best Estimate
Depending on your homeowner’s policy, you may have a few options when it comes to repair or replacement. If you have replacement cost coverage, you’re entitled to the full amount necessary to replace your home and its contents (you may have a limit set by your policy).
If you have an actual cash value policy, you’re entitled to the amount it would require to return your home and contents to its market value. However, this type of policy tends to return a lower amount due to the discrepancy between the market and replacement value.
Regardless of the policy, your insurance adjustor will supply an estimate of the value of your home and its contents. You aren’t required to accept this valuation. If you feel the insurance company’s numbers are unsatisfactory, you can hire an independent estimator to value your home and its contents.
Stay One Step Ahead
No matter how friendly or grumpy your adjuster may be, keep in mind that it’s their job to make sure you are taken care of. If you need a question answered, contact your adjuster. If you feel that the process is being stalled, call them and politely let them know it’s taking too long. Be gentle, yet firm, and keep in mind that they work for you.
End The Process
Your insurance company will most likely attempt to close the adjustment process quickly. At first, this might seem like a blessing. However, that’s not always the case. Living through a house fire is a very traumatic experience, and it can be difficult to think clearly in the following weeks and months. If you find damage or loss after the claim has been closed, your insurance agency isn’t responsible for it. In other words, don’t close your claim until you are absolutely ready for it to be closed.
Stay Strong and Lean on Friends and Family
Living through a house fire is a horrific event. You may lose more than just a few possessions. Lean on your friends and family to help you get through this trying time. Remember to ask your adjuster questions until you feel they’ve been answered, stand up for your rights, and most importantly, stay strong.
Author Bio: Albert Krav is a contributing writer for Contractors License Resource Group, a contractor’s licensing school. In his spare time he enjoys teaching chess to his two daughters, Lily and Ava.