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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Navigating a Property Insurance Claim After a Wildfire

4/9/2024 (Permalink)

fire damage to the exterior of a home SERVPRO of Amarillo works with all adjusters to navigate fire damage claims.

The aftermath of a wildfire is challenging for homeowners. We have seen this recently as our community works to rebuild itself after the Smokehouse Creek Fire, which burned over a million acres and affected hundreds of homes. 

While we continue to restore properties damaged by wildfires, we are also helping our customers navigate the property insurance claim process.  

1. Document the Fire Damage

As soon as it's safe to do so, thoroughly document the damage to your property's extent. Take photos and videos from multiple angles to capture the full scope of damage. Make detailed lists of damaged items, including their value and any relevant receipts or documentation.

Call a professional fire damage restoration company if your property is unsafe to enter. Do not risk your safety. The fire damage restorer will understand the inherent risk and take any appropriate steps they need to take to inspect and document the property themselves.  

2. Contact Your Insurance Company

Notify your insurance company of the wildfire damage immediately. Most policies require prompt reporting of losses. Be prepared to provide detailed information about the extent of the damage and any immediate needs for temporary repairs or accommodations.

If you have chosen a damage restoration company, provide your insurance company with the vendor's name and phone number. Likewise, give your damage restoration company your adjuster's name, phone number, and email address. This exchange of information will help the restoration company connect with your insurance company to start the claims process. 

Your choice of fire damage restoration contractor is your decision. While your adjuster may have a preference or suggest an alternative company, you can refuse the adjuster's suggestion and stick with the company of your choice. Your adjuster may not alter your claim's decision based on your choice of contractor.  

3. Understand Your Coverage

Review your insurance policy carefully to understand what is covered and what may be excluded. Wildfire damage may fall under different categories, including dwelling coverage for structural damage, personal property coverage for belongings, and additional living expenses coverage for temporary housing and other necessities.

A professional fire damage restoration company should have experienced staff ready to help you with insurance terminology. They will also speak to your adjuster on your behalf to help them understand that your property needs to be returned to preloss condition. 

4. Secure Your Fire Damaged Property

Take steps to prevent further damage to your property, like boarding up windows and the roof, covering exposed areas, and securing valuables to prevent theft or vandalism. You can do this in one of two ways:

Option 1 - hire a fire damage restoration company or contractor. They will assess where your exterior structure has been damaged and secure it in the best way. Typically, they will board up windows and damaged exterior walls and doors, install a roof tarp, and sometimes also install a temporary fence. Depending on the damage's severity and the contents inside, a temporary exterior fence may also be erected by the restoration company. Verify that you or your fire damage restorer turn in a line-item estimate along with before and after photo documentation to your adjuster. 

Option 2 - do it yourself. Keep records of expenses incurred for these protective measures, as they may be reimbursable under your policy.

5. Keep Detailed Records

Throughout the claims process, keep thorough records of all communication with your insurance company and adjuster(s), including phone calls, emails, and written correspondence. Note the names of representatives you speak with and keep copies of any documents or forms submitted. Verify that your verbal communication is followed up with a written verification of your conversation. 

6. Call Fire Damage Restoration Companies and Obtain Multiple Estimates

Obtain multiple quotes from reputable contractors or restoration companies when seeking repair or restoration estimates. Ensure the estimates are detailed and itemized, outlining the scope of work and associated costs. A detailed cost expense will help ensure accurate reimbursement from your insurance company.  

Only sign a contract with a vendor once they have provided you with an estimate and you are sure you want to hire them. Do not accept charges for preliminary estimates. 

If the wildfire is significant and has made national news, it is probable that some out-of-town restoration companies may travel to your affected area and solicit work. Consider thoroughly the vendor you choose, particularly if they will return to their business's home base after the restoration work is complete, which may make them unavailable for follow-up.   

7. Be Prepared for Property Inspections

Your insurance company may send an adjuster to assess the damage to your property. Be prepared to provide access to your home and provide documentation to support your claim. Accompany the adjuster during the inspection and point out any areas of concern.

A good fire damage restoration company will also be present when your adjuster visits for the property inspection. Verify you coordinate with your contractor so everyone is on the same page. 

8. Review Fire Damage Restoration Settlement Offers Carefully

If your insurance company offers a settlement, review it carefully to ensure it accurately reflects the extent of your losses and the coverage provided by your policy. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to seek clarification from your insurance company or legal counsel.

We recommend obtaining multiple bids from fire damage restoration vendors to ensure that your settlement can adequately cover the cost of professional restoration. 

9. Consider Hiring a Public Adjuster

If you encounter challenges or disputes with your insurance company during the claims process, consider hiring a public adjuster to represent your interests. Public adjusters are licensed professionals who can help negotiate with your insurance company and maximize your claim settlement. An experienced fire damage restoration company will know how to work with public adjusters. 

10. Stay Informed

Property insurance claims after a wildfire can be complex and time-consuming. In high-impact areas, adjusters may be inundated with calls, and processing times will likely be extended. Stay informed about the progress of your claim. Keep lines of communication open with your insurance company and your fire damage restoration contractor, and seek assistance from trusted professionals if needed.

SERVPRO's Fire Damage Insurance Claim Process

SERVPRO of Amarillo has nearly 40 years of experience processing damage restoration claims, and we have helped thousands of homeowners and their adjusters in our years of service. Our fire damage insurance claim process involves:

  • Inspection, Scope, and Documentation. We will visit your property and document the damage to prepare an estimate. This service is free of charge. You will not be asked to sign any contracts in exchange for it. 
  • Estimate. We prepare an estimate for you and your adjuster to understand what services are needed to restore your property to preloss condition. 
  • Approval from the Insurance Company and Adjuster. We will work with your adjuster to get the estimate approved, which often involves a lot of back-and-forth communication to help your adjuster understand the extent of your property's needs. 
  • Restoration and Reconstruction. After approval, we will restore your property based on the approved estimate.  
  • Follow-Up. After the restoration and reconstruction work is complete, we will continue to be available for any follow-up questions or concerns. 

SERVPRO is Here to Help

You don't have to navigate this process alone—seek support from trusted professionals available in your community, like SERVPRO of Amarillo.  

We accept all insurance and work with all adjusters. 

We serve the entire Texas Panhandle along with Oklahoma, Kansas, New Mexico, and Colorado.

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