FAQ’s – Fire Insurance Claim Help

How long will my fire insurance claim take to settle?

Most fire claims, if handled correctly, should settle within 90-120 days.. Claimants who are unfamiliar with the fire claim process are likely to make mistakes which result in settlement delays.

My insurance company directed a restoration company to remove my personal property that was damaged by the house fire. The company attempted to restore some of my belongings, but many of my items are still damaged. The restoration bill was outrageous. Do I have to pay for their attempt to restore my belongings?

Unfortunately, yes. Many people who are unfamiliar with the fire insurance claim process allow the insurance company to take control of their stuff. You have, or had, a right to choose which items you wanted to be replaced or restored (cleaned by the restoration company). If you’ve made this mistake then consider consulting with a trusted fire damage adjuster to find out if there is recourse.

The insurance company has required me to submit all sorts of financial and personal information in order to process my claim. I don’t see how the information is relevant. Must I comply?

It depends, but most likely yes. The insurance company will demand your compliance, to a reasonable extent. If you feel that the insurance company is purposely trying to make the fire claim process difficult then consult with a trusted and experienced public adjuster ASAP.

My insurance company paid to have my home and contents restored from smoke and fire damage. However, I still smell a smoke odor throughout my home. Do I have any recourse?

The smell of smoke and subsequent smoke damage is subjective. You’ll likely need an experienced fire damage claim adjuster  to properly assess and document the remaining smoke damage. It is the insurance company’s responsibility to restore your home and contents to their pre-loss conditions, or to compensate you.

[faq faq_que="The insurance company has stopped all work on my fire damage claim while the cause of the fire is under investigation. What can I do?"] If the cause and origin of the fire has not yet been established then the insurance company will take an investigative approach. Unfortunately, this makes claimants feel more like suspects than victims. During the investigation the fire insurance claim process will be at a standstill, and no settlement will be tendered. The insurance company is investigating  the claim if you’ve received a Reservation of Rights letter. While this can be alarming, you need to consult with a trusted and experienced fire damage adjuster – a public claim adjuster- immediately. In some cases a public adjuster can negotiate a partial settlement while the claim is pending.

What is an Examination Under Oath?

The insurance company’s attorney questions a claimant, under oath, during an Examination Under Oath. This is a formal, legal  proceeding. There are some serious issues with your fire claim if you’ve been required to participate in an EUO. Consult with an experienced fire claim adjuster immediately.

Am I required to participate in an Examination Under Oath for my fire damage claim?

100%. If you refuse, or otherwise fail to appear for your Examination Under Oath, then your insurance company can deny your claim.

A kitchen fire damaged a part of my home but smoke and soot damage is everywhere. What do I need to know about the fire insurance claim process?

It sounds like you have a partial loss. As such, the claim will need to be handled with special attention and care. If you’re not hiring professional fire claim help from a public adjuster then make certain your insurance adjuster thoroughly investigates the damages. This includes documenting the hidden and hard-to-find damage, smoke and soot damage, and damage to the “guts” of your home (interior walls and framing, air ducts etc). Have a strategic claim plan place in place before you allow the insurance carrier to restore your home or belongings. Failure to so will could result in thousands of wasted settlement dollars and time. If you feel like your claim isn’t getting the attention it deserves then contact an experienced fire damage adjuster.

The insurance company will only replace the flooring in my living room but not my family room. Is this fair?

Your insurance company has an obligation to pay to repair, or restore your property to it’s pre-loss condition in a consistent and uniform fashion. If one of the rooms was damaged then your insurance company is most likely obligated to pay to have the floors replaced in both rooms. Check your policy or consult with a public adjuster for more information about “line of sight” disputes.

Is my insurance agent or broker equipped to provide me claim help?

Insurance agents and brokers are proficient in defining fire insurance needs and selling you the best policy. Brokers and agents are not trained to estimate or document fire damage. Insurance adjusting and settlement negotiations are a specialized service that requires substantial training and experience to do well.

What are the possible downfalls of handling my own fire claim?

Lost time and money could be potential downfalls of handling your claim. Most people suffer an insured loss or maybe two in a lifetime. As such, they lack the experience to navigate the inherent complexities of a fire claim. Inaccurately estimating the full scope to repair will result in delays, a lower settlement and even a possible denial from the carrier. An experienced public adjuster knows how to navigate the fire claim process in ways that maximize the settlement and minimize the claim process.

What is a public adjuster?

A public adjuster is a professional claims handler and claim adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant’s fire insurance claim. State government agencies issue these respective licenses. Their licenses only permit them to assist policyholders, not insurance companies. Also see this definition.

Is there a difference between a “public adjuster” and a “fire claim adjuster?”

“Public adjuster” is a board term often used to describe claim adjusters who specialize in adjusting specific types of claims. A fire claim adjuster likely specializes in documenting, adjusting and negotiating claims for fire and smoke damage. There is not a specific designation or license to become a “fire claim adjuster.” Check references before hiring any type of professional claim help.

My insurance claim adjuster has discouraged me from hiring a public adjuster. Why?

Insurance companies and their employees- their adjusters- are often inclined to increase their bottom line by minimizing claim settlements. Public adjusters work hard to maximize settlements. When a claimant hires their own adjuster the insurance company is forced to deal with someone who may be more knowledgeable than they are.

How much does a public adjuster charge to provide fire claim help?

Most public adjusters charge a small percentage of the negotiated settlement. The percentage can range from 5% – 20%. The range can depend on the size of the fire damage, complexity of the claim and the part of the claim process when the adjuster is hired. Reputable fire damage adjusters will never charge an upfront fee or extra costs.

If I hire and pay for a fire damage adjuster then will I have enough time to repair my home and replace my belongings?

Yes, you should. You should have more than enough funds if you’re properly insured and wish to hire a public adjuster. This would include restoring your property, replacing your belongings and paying the fire damage adjuster his or her fee. We recommend consulting with an adjuster if you suspect your insurance company isn’t handling your claim well.

Will my insurance company drop me at renewal if I hire a fire insurance claim adjuster?

It is illegal for your insurance company to drop you for any reason other than Fraud or Material Misrepresentation. The company may choose to not renew your policy, but that can only happen on your date of renewal. Unless you’ve had several claims in the past then this rarely happens.

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