In states like California, it’s especially important make sure that your homeowner’s insurance covers you for fire damage. The fires in California and states alike can be devastating for homes and families. Not only are you forced to evacuate, grabbing all of your most prized possessions, money, and family heirlooms, but also you have to leave not knowing if you’ll ever return to your home as you know it. During such an emotional time, having to trust your insurance accompany to be fair with your claim is just another burden. If there’s one thing that people have learned from dealing with insurance companies and fire damage, it’s that these large scale fires cause insurance companies to take short cuts when it comes to your payout. When there’s a lot of damage done in an area, insurance companies are forced to make giant payouts all at once. With that being said, they’ll attempt to find ways in which they can save their company some money. You’re better off hiring a Chinese Public Adjuster to act as the middle man between you and your insurance company as well as trust to make sure you’re paid fairly for the damages your home has encountered. To make the entire process easier, there is a list of things you can do before, during, and after filing your claim.

Document everything you’ve lost
When you return to your home, make sure that you take pictures and videos of the scene. While it might be heartbreaking, you’re going to need evidence of all of your lost assets. Gather your family together in order to make a list of the things that were lost or destroyed in the fire. If there are still remains of assets like your TV, laptops, jewelry, etc., make sure you hold on to them. If you throw them out, it becomes harder to prove that you had them in the first place.

Don’t wait when filing your insurance claim
The sooner you file a claim with your insurance company, ideally the sooner you’ll have your house fixed and your family living a normal life again. It’s important that you call your insurance agent as soon as you can, especially if there were many other homes impacted around you. You’re going to have to submit your proof of loss/damage, so gather your list and thoughts before making the call, but don’t wait too long. According to Top 

Ten Tips for Filing Fire Insurance Claims by FindLaw, this is a list of the information you should have in front of you when making your claim:
  • ·         The date of the loss/damage
  • ·         The type of loss/damage
  • ·         The location of the damage
  • ·         Injuries related to the incident
  • ·         Other people involved in the incident
  • ·         The current condition of the home
  • ·         A lengthy description of the damage done
  • ·         The repairs necessary to  get the home back to normal
  • ·         A police report

Keep all documents and records
Filing insurance claims can be stressful and tedious. If you’re handling it alone, be prepared to spend hours on the phone, days going back and forth via email, and keeping track of countless letters and documents. Make sure you keep every piece of paper regarding the claim and organize them in a folder or a binder. You should also jot down notes during meetings or phone calls and keep track of the names of the people you’re talking to at your insurance company. By law, insurance companies cannot drag their feet when it comes to filing your claim. In order to keep the process moving, you need to make sure that you are giving them all of the information they need for your case effectively. This means you need to double check that you information is accurate and whole. California in particular has a law that states insurance companies need to mail a “notice of intentions” no later than 30 days after the insurance claim is initially filed. As long as there are no hiccups (faulty information, delays on your part), they’re also required to make the payment during that time. If they fail to do so, you can always threaten to bring the state into the case, this should encourage them to get you your money quickly.

Don’t stop paying your insurance premiums
For some reason, many people stop paying their insurance premiums once they’ve filed their claim with their insurance company. While it might make no difference when it comes to the payout you’re going to receive for the fire damage, stopping payments opens you up to liability charges and pet damage. Remember that homeowner’s insurance protects you from the off chance that someone gets hurt on your property. It also protects you from damages that your pet causes. Do your best to continue the payments.

Make sure your property is safe
Even though you had no control over your property being damaged, it’s still your responsibility to make sure your property is safe. If your entire home is burned down, there’s not much to protect, but if only half of your home is damaged, you need to work to makes sure that doesn’t impact the part of your home that isn’t damaged. The insurance companies will call this “mitigating damage”, and is crucial to your claim.

Hire a public adjuster
This isn’t a requirement when it comes to filing an insurance claim, but it’s definitely for your own benefit. A public adjuster can leverage their knowledge in the insurance and constructions industries to meet your insurance company somewhere in the middle. Their job is to maximize your settlement, which can be significantly more than you would receive without them. They do take a percentage of the final settlement, but even with that, you could take home much more money than you would have on your own.

Filing an insurance claim and dealing with agents isn’t the first thing on anyone’s to-do list, but sometimes its part of life. Make the process easier by following these tips, and remember there’s no harm in asking for some help.