How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim After a Fire in 2020
If you want to make the process of filing your homeowner insurance after a fire in your home or business follow these steps for success.
Homeowners insurance covers damage from fires which can include wildfires like the ones that have ravaged California or simple accidents by chance.
You should be assigned an insurance adjuster to help you through this unfortunate situation. In the case you have fire insurance, they will assess the damage and submit an estimate to be reviewed. Our team at Altieri Transco is full of experienced adjusters that can file your homeowner's insurance claim after a fire and allow you peace of mind through the process, but it is important to remember that the amount you're paid will depend on the kind of coverage you have.
Document your losses.
After the unfortunate fire to your property it’s important you take photos of the damages and compile a list of items that were torched and destroyed beyond repair or are in need of repair. Include the price you paid for the items and gather any receipts you can find.
“The more you can document your property losses before the insurance adjuster arrives, the faster the claims-filing process will go,” says Michael Barry, a spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute (III), a not-for-profit group sponsored by the property and casualty insurance industry. “A standard homeowner's insurance policy not only covers damage to the home’s structure but also the homeowner’s personal property.”
Verify your adjuster’s identity.
Do some research and verify that your adjuster is not a scammer or fraud in disguise.To protect yourself, ask the insurance company for the adjuster’s name before he or she arrives, then ask for identification before letting the person into your home.
Show the adjuster all the damage.
Make sure that you are home when the adjuster visits and that he or she gets a complete view of everything that was lost or damaged. It’s not enough just to walk through part of your home.
Document all contact with the insurance company.
Keep in contact with your insurance adjuster even after filing. Keep notes about when an adjuster visits as well as any missed appointments, unreturned phone calls, what you discussed, and even whether he or she was rude. You may not need this information now but it may be useful if any disagreements have to be resolved in court.
Make copies of all documents.
Copy everything you give to the adjuster, such as your list of property lost or damaged. If the adjuster advises you to start repairs, it is advised that you get that permission in writing. Our line of insurance adjusters will make this process simple.
Verify what's covered by your policy. The III notes that in addition to covering damage caused by fire and smoke, the standard homeowners and renters insurance policy covers damage caused by firefighters while extinguishing a fire.
Standard homeowners and renters' policies cover for the "loss of use" of your home, and for additional living expenses (ALE) such as rent or hotel bills, restaurant meals, transportation, clothing, and other expenses—up to a limit—when your home becomes uninhabitable or inaccessible due to fire. If your home is accessible and habitable but you can't go back to it due to mandatory evacuation orders, you're covered for ALE, up to a limit.
A typical homeowner's insurance policy also covers wildfire-caused damage to trees, shrubs, and plants for a dollar amount up to 5 percent of what your entire dwelling is covered for. The limit per tree, shrub, or plant is generally about $500, the III says. Debris removal also is covered; the amount depends on the policy.
As licensed Public Adjusters and Professional Loss Consultants, the role of Altieri Transco American Claims is to transfer the burden of claims preparation and adjustment from you, the policyholder, to our qualified representatives. Our sole function is to support the policyholder’s interest once you sustain a loss. We do not work with or for insurance companies. Without any conflicts of interest, Altieri Transco becomes your dedicated advocate.
Discuss any exclusions or limits in your policy.
If your insurer maintains that your policy doesn't cover all the damages or if you think the compensation is too low, ask the carrier’s representative to explain in writing how he or she got to the estimate. The rep should also include any reason certain items aren't covered and whether there are any coverage limits.
If you think the wording in the policy is misleading, contact a local plaintiff’s attorney who specializes in insurance law. The Consumer Federation of America notes that courts have consistently ruled in favor of policyholders on policy ambiguities. File a complaint with your state’s department of insurance.
Visit: https://altieriinsuranceconsultants.com/about/the-team/ to learn more about the professional team that will support you.
Consider Hiring a Public Adjuster
If you have a very large claim, you may want to turn to a public adjuster, an independent adjuster who works on your behalf and represents you for the claim. But be aware of fees. In some states, a public adjuster’s fees are capped, typically at 10 percent to 12 percent of the insurance payout. In other states, there are either no caps or adjusters simply charge a flat fee.
To find a public adjuster, check with the National Association of Public Insurance Adjusters. Ask for references from past clients and look to see whether he or she has several years of experience and a state license where required.
There are four states where no licensing is required—Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, and South Dakota. If you live in one of those states, Diane Swerling, a principal at Swerling Milton Winnick Public Insurance Adjusters in Wellesley, Mass., suggests contacting an attorney who works with catastrophe victims to help you find a reputable adjuster.
As a property insurance claims professional since 1980, Mr. Altieri leads the firm at Altieri Insurance Consultants in all matters of property claim adjusting and community outreach. His decades of property claim adjusting experience assure the firm’s clients they are well represented, whether they have suffered a multi-million-dollar commercial loss or have lost their home. View Bio