How to Deal with Fire and Smoke Damage Part II: Insurance

At Arizona Capital Insurance we were so pleased to hear that the Wallow fire has become a little more contained. We’ve also been happy to hear from our clients, letting us know they are alright and asking questions about their insurance.

So let’s focus on that topic today: how to deal with your insurance when you have fire and smoke damage.

First of all, we are here to help our clients. We’re going to work with you to make sure you are able to recover from this devastation as easily as possible. But, as you know, we are not your direct source of insurance. We’re an insurance broker. You will need to work with your insurance company directly to make sure you get the benefits you’re entitled to. We will help you file the claim and walk with you through the process step by step.

Here are some tips for making this a smooth, beneficial process:

-Call your insurance company now. Obviously the country is aware of the damage being done by the Wallow Fire. But, more than likely, insurance companies are not seeking out which of their clients have been affected.

Give them a call and let them know you’ve been displaced. Then, review your policy with them. Many policies will pay the expenses you’re incurring by being evacuated (subjected to your deductible). Find out what your policy covers and what the process will be for submitting your claim once you are allowed to return home. Give us a call if you would like help with this.

-Keep all receipts. Whether your policy covers your evacuation expenses or not, it’s a good idea to keep all your receipts from gas, lodging, and food. At this point, you are building a case for yourself (in case you need it) and receipts will come in handy. If you don’t have receipts, get copies of your bank statements showing your expenses.

-Document everything. From the moment you walk in your door, start taking pictures, videotaping, and writing down all the damage you notice. You may need that documentation as proof for what you should be compensated for.

-Get a restoration specialist (or 2) to come in as soon as possible. Unless you are an expert in housing and construction, you really won’t have any idea how much damage has been done to your property. Smoke and soot can get into vents, a/c units, behind walls, into the pluming, and all kinds of places you wouldn’t think to look. Nor will you be able to see the damage in these areas on your own. As the specialist comes through, they will write down their observations and give you an idea of what will need to be replaced or cleaned.

And if one specialist is good, two are better. You may need to submit more than one estimate to your insurance company.

-Write down the cost of your damaged property. Since the insurance company will be replacing your irreparable things, be sure to write down what they cost. Odds are, you will not get 100% of the purchase price for all your items, but that’s what you’ve got to build your case for. If you have receipts from recent purchases, find them and add them to your collection of documents. Pull information from your bank statements. Do your best to find evidence of what your personal property costs.

-Stay logical. Again, we will do everything in our power to assist you. But insurance companies never like to pay out on claims, so you’ve got to present them with the facts. By documenting, getting assessments, and creating a case for yourself, you are approaching this situation wisely. You’re going through a horrible tragedy, but tears are not going to sway the claims department. Knowing what you’re entitled to (because you read through your policy and we can help you) and presenting your evidence should get you a reparation check. So stay calm and don’t move, repair, or trash anything until you’ve got evidence.

I think we’ve said it twice in this post, but I think it’s worth mentioning again: we are here to assist you. It’s what we do and it’s why you come to us for your insurance needs, so reach out if you need us.

If anyone reading this post has been through fire damage before and has thoughts about how to build your case for an insurance company, please include your comments below. We hope to hear about what helped you, and what mistakes to avoid.

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