How to File a Claim After a Wildfire
Wildfires have become a significant danger throughout the western region of the United States. Arizona’s dry climate only feeds this issue. Therefore, it is important to know how to file an insurance claim if your house sustains damage from a wildfire.
Documentation Is Essential
If you have already created a photo inventory of all your possessions, you are ahead of the game. If you have not, it would be a good job to undertake. In either case, if your house is damaged by smoke or fire immediately take pictures of everything that looks like it was affected. Hire a specialist to perform a more thorough examination in case you missed anything. These photos will also enable you to create a complete inventory of the damages. Once you have created a damage inventory, figure out the monetary value of all the items you lost. Then hire a contractor who can give you an estimate of how much all the restoration work will cost.
Practice Due Diligence
Often, the insurance agency will send in people to decide the financial value of all the damage. If you believe that the person they send in is doing an inadequate or incorrect job, make sure you say something or find your own independent professional to assess the full value.
Keep in mind that there is a possibility that you and your insurance company will disagree. They are likely to focus on areas that have been visibly affected and may require additional information to document more subtle damages, such as smoke or chemical residue issues.
You should also be sure you are polite and cooperative with your insurance company representative. Take detailed notes on your interactions and conversations with the company and save any documentation in case there is a dispute over the amount that the company owes you. Additionally, make sure you get everything in writing. If your insurance company makes any verbal promises to you, ask them to put it in writing so you can have proof of the agreement.
Keep Your Receipts
If you need to leave your home and move into temporary housing, keep all of the receipts from any purchases you make during the time you are forced to be out of your home. This includes going out to dinner, hotel costs, toiletries, and other items. These expenses can be covered later if you have proof of the purchase. Additionally, you may be entitled to compensation for travel expenses if your work or school commute was affected by the temporary change in location. Leave no stone unturned here; this is money coming out of your pocket, so you’ll want it back once everything returns to normal.
During all of these proceedings, it’s a good idea to hire a lawyer to represent you. There are many technicalities that come with this process and it can help to have a trained professional on your side to ensure that the insurance company serves your best interests.
Don’t Skip Any Details
Be careful to not close your claim hastily and make it a point to be thorough. This process can be exhausting and unpleasant, especially after dealing with a wildfire. But if you close your claim without having exercised due diligence, you may miss out on a significant amount of compensation. Engaging a lawyer to represent your interests is the best way to ensure that you receive fair compensation for your losses after dealing with the effects of a wildfire.