After a house fire, you may find yourself unsure about what to do next. A house fire is a devastating experience and you might need a lot of help to get through it.
Start by taking these 7 steps. They will help you and your family recover and rediscover some of your normal life after a house fire.
#1 Call Your Insurance Agent
One of the first things you should do once you have a place to stay is contact your insurance agent. The sooner they open your claim, the sooner you can begin repairs or finding a new home.
Many home insurance plans cover living expenses, so the sooner the claim is opened, the sooner you’ll get the financial assistance you need.
#2 Replace Clothing & Toiletries
One of the first things your family will want to do the day after a house fire is replace clothing and toiletries. You might not be in the right mental state for shopping, so just stick to the essentials at first.
Don’t forget to keep receipts when you start replacing your possessions so that you are properly reimbursed.
#3 Find Accommodations
You need a place to stay, a safe and comfortable place where you can rest and plan your next steps. It may be with family or at a hotel. The place you stay on your first night doesn’t have to be where you settle down while your home is rebuilt, but it’s important that you feel safe there.
#4 Secure Your Home
After a fire, there are a few steps you can take to keep your damaged home secure from looters and squatters. First, contact the police and alert them to the fire.
While first responders will be aware of the fire, it helps to stay in touch with the police, as they can keep an eye on your property. If your home is safe to re-enter, you may also want to board up your windows until reconstruction can begin.
#5 Recover Undamaged Possessions and Sentimental Items
When the fire department confirms that your home is safe for re-entry, you can look for undamaged possessions.
It’s important for your insurance claim that you only remove items if they could be exposed to further damage, or if they have sentimental value.
Recovering sentimental items, whether it’s a family photo album or a child’s favorite toy, can help your family recover as it can provide comfort during a difficult time. Keep a close record of any possessions that you remove and inform your adjuster.
It also pays to be careful about what you salvage. Some items may need to be discarded even if they seem salvageable.
#6 Get Help with Your Insurance Claim
Your insurance company will make you an initial offer based on your insurance coverage and the damages. It’s not unusual for insurance companies to make low initial offers in the hopes that you will accept it out of urgency or unfamiliarity.
If you feel like your family hasn’t been given a fair offer, you can talk to an insurance adjuster or a lawyer about negotiating a better offer.
A law firm like Virani Law can add monetary value to your claim while taking the stress out of handling it. The firm was started by lawyer Fy Virani after helping his own family through a tragic house fire. After learning how to combine legal knowledge with insurance negotiation from the experience, he opened the only law firm in Canada that specializes in fire and flood insurance claims.
#7 Plan Your Finances
A financial plan will help your family get through this period without adding to the stress. Despite the fire, your financial responsibilities will continue.
It’s easy to forget about recurring expenses like internet or cable, but if you know you won’t be in your home for several months, you can save money by canceling these services.
With these 7 steps, you can help your family return to normal and start rebuilding.