You’ve notified your insurance company about your fire damage and now it’s just as simple as cooperating with their follow up…right? Not exactly. Immediately following your initial contact, you’ll begin receiving a series of fire insurance forms from your insurance company, asking you to fill out a full spectrum of information regarding your fire damage claim, from facts as straightforward as your full name to a series of more detailed questions that can feel much more complicated to answer than you may have anticipated. Even if the initial questions don’t feel intimidating, any omission on your end could prove disastrous in the weeks that follow. To help you navigate through the mass of paperwork you should expect in the coming weeks, we’re summarizing the fire insurance forms that most policyholders will or may receive during the fire claim process so you’ll be better equipped to navigate them.
This fire insurance form is the first you’ll receive because it documents your claim in writing, backed by your signature. At first glance, it’s a fairly straightforward form: you’ll be asked to document the date, location, and cause of your fire, along with a description of your loss and the name and number of any other insurance company you may be covered under. This form will likely include a list of warnings according to the state in which you reside. Though they’re meant to inform rather than intimidate you, you’ll probably encounter intimidating words such as felony, fraud, and prison. Keep in mind that this disclaimer is meant to deter people who may intentionally be committing insurance fraud, as well as reiterate the importance of filling out the form as accurately as possible.
This fire insurance claim form, which may follow your statement of claim, can be much more bewildering than the statement of claim form because it uses what is often confusing legal terminology to inform you of your insurance company’s legal rights to deny you coverage for certain losses. Your insurance company is essentially alerting you that while they will be moving forward with your claim, because of the terms of your insurance policy, they retain the right to deny all or a portion of your fire claim based on their interpretation of your policy. The Reservation of Rights form is very confusing and unsettling because it simultaneously promises to help you and asserts the right to deny coverage, causing many fire victims to begin worrying that their insurance policy is less solid than they assumed. Receiving this form leads many of our clients to contact us for our advice and expertise, and rightfully so. While many of these forms contain language in which the insurance company is exclaiming its rights, some Reservation of Rights forms will stipulate what loss(es) are being denied and why. This in no way means that you must accept their terms; an experienced public fire adjuster can help you interpret and fight the denial in coverage.
The contents inventory form is probably the most overwhelming fire insurance form you’ll receive because it requests a list of all of the personal property items that were damaged during the fire. Since many policyholders are trying to manage the emotional trauma that often follows a fire, trying to remember and list every single damaged or destroyed item is very daunting, and as a result, they often overlook several if not dozens of items. Sometimes policyholders will turn to either their insurance company for assistance in filling out the form, which isn’t necessarily the best route either; without the scrutiny and experience of a public adjuster who’s working solely for the policyholder and therefore vested in discovering and listing every single loss, these forms are often incompletely filed and at the expense of the insured, resulting in a lower settlement than they’re actually entitled to.
This is undoubtedly the most important form you’ll fill out following a fire because your insurance company uses the information you provide to assess their own liability and how much they ultimately owe you above and beyond your deductible. It’s a formal fire insurance form requiring your notarized signature, along with the following:
It’s crucial that this form is filled out, signed, and dated correctly within the requested time frame, which you’ll find within the terms of your policy. Be advised that policy language can sometimes be misleading. For example, your policy may stipulate 90 days, which is inherently vague. Is it 90 days from the date of your loss or from the date of the Proof of Loss request? These are the types of seemingly small oversights that can seriously compromise your claim and settlement if not addressed properly. However, because they’re both overwhelmed and inexperienced with fire insurance claims, many fire victims make these common mistakes to their own detriment, which is why we highly recommend seeking the expertise of a seasoned public adjuster. Here are our top tips for filling out a proof of loss form.
An Examination Under Oath (EOU) is a formal proceeding initiated by your insurance company that requires you to answer a series of questions, put forth by your insurance company, under oath and in the presence of a court reporter. This can quite obviously feel very intimidating to the insured, who can be made to feel as if he/she is in a court of law defending himself. To make matters worse, even though you’ve done nothing wrong, the language you use or facts you forget to mention can negatively affect the outcome of your settlement.
While you are required to submit to a EOU request, you don’t have to proceed without legal representation or the advice of a seasoned public adjuster whom you hire for assistance throughout the fire claims process. In fact, we strongly advise that you never attend an EOU without having first contacted a public fire claims adjuster (link to public fire claims adjuster blog).
As you’re probably realizing, any misstep such as a loss oversight, missed signature or due date, miswording, or lack of proper documented proof can have serious ramifications on your fire claim, and in some cases, lead to total denial of your fire claim. While your insurance company isn’t necessarily looking for a “gotcha” moment, in most cases, you are under obligation to report your claim within a designated time and fashion, and if you fail to do so, both the law and language of your insurance policy can lean in your insurance company’s favor rather than yours, regardless of how much you’ve paid over the years for coverage.
For these many reasons, it’s imperative to contact an experienced public adjuster with a long history of successful fire damage claims. The sooner you contact a public adjuster after your fire damage, the more likely you are to not only avoid confusion, unnecessary stress, and denial of coverage but also maximize your settlement so you’re reimbursed for each and every loss, right down to your toothbrush. While it’s certainly not impossible to achieve this on your own, there’s a reason we have a 100% success rate in procuring a higher settlement for our clients than they either originally or would have received without our expertise.
At Insurance Claims Consultants, the minute you contact us is the minute we begin an independent analysis of your insurance policy and appraisal of your loss so that we may successfully advise and help you with all of the above forms and proceedings and secure the settlement you deserve, which in some cases can even exceed your policy’s limitations. Because we know exactly what to look for and how to present it to your insurance company using the necessary fire insurance forms, you can rest assured that no i or t will go uncrossed or dotted, nor will we settle solely based on your insurance company’s appraisal or interpretation of your policy. In fact, part of our services include negotiating with your insurance company on your behalf after assisting you in successful submission of all of your fire insurance forms. Essentially, we make an ironclad argument for a higher settlement after your insurance company’s initial figure, based on our own independent conclusions surrounding your claim. We can proudly say that within our nearly 30 years in the business, we’ve never not negotiated a higher settlement for our clients. Curious about the recent fire claims we’ve handled? Check out these recent cases (link to cases), including the hundreds of thousands of dollars in increased settlements we’ve won for our clients.
Remember, you have just one chance to complete these forms correctly. If you have any questions or would like one of our fire claims adjusters to review your fire insurance documents, don’t hesitate to call us at any time of day or night (800) 572-7914. Or you can also submit your information here and we’ll be in contact within 12 hours.Back to Company Blog...