A devastating house fire can strike at any time. Per the National Fire Protection Association, in 2018 alone there were over 270,000 home fires in the U.S. If you are one of the thousands of families in the United States that experienced the devastation from a house fire, we hope your family escaped unharmed and are sorry for your loss. We understand that this is an extremely difficult time, a house fire destroys irreplaceable family keepsakes and leaves you temporarily homeless.
Since this may be the first source of information you read after a house fire, we want to begin by giving you a list of some key things that are important to do as soon as possible.
- It is important to contact your insurance company or agent immediately. Inform them of the fire, request they open a claim and ask them the following questions:
- If they have a fire clean up and protection company that they work with regularly that you can contact to help. You are still the owner of the property and the insurance company will require you to take reasonable steps to secure the property, prevent additional damage to the home and your possessions. This may include putting up temporary fencing around the perimeter of the home or placing tarps over a hole in the roof. This is one time that you do not care about the cost if you hire the insurance companies preferred contractor the insurance company will pay the bill without you being involved. Plus, your family is most likely traumatized by the fire and should not have to deal with this burden. Contact the preferred contractor and request they perform the initial clean up, secure the property, protect the property from additional damage, and assist with the recovery of personal property.
- The insurance company will typically cover the cost of temporary housing, food, clothing, toiletries, medical supplies, and other life necessities. It is very important to establish with your insurance company what your policy will cover and the maximum amount they will pay for these items.
- The cost of temporary housing and life’s necessities will quickly add up. Ask the insurance company about getting an advance or the process and time frame to process and receive a refund for these temporary expenses.
- Your copy of your insurance policy most likely was destroyed in the fire. Request the insurance company to email you a copy of the policy along with and all endorsements. You may need it.
- They should provide you with a claim number and the contact information for the adjuster assigned to resolve your claim. This adjuster will be your main point of contact with the insurance company and responsible for processing the claim. To get the claim processes moving, you will want to contact them as soon as possible.
- An insurance company will usually have a pamphlet or list of items that explains what the homeowner is responsible for, the claims process and what you can expect from the insurance company that they can email you. You want to be clear on what are their responsibilities and what are yours.
- Make sure you provide the insurance company with current contact information including cell phone number, mailing address, and email address.
- You will need to find suitable temporary housing for you and your family. For a short period, this might be a hotel or the house of a friend or loved one. You will want this to be comfortable for your family because you might be there for a few weeks until you find acceptable semi-permanent housing.
- Does a family member regularly take prescription medicine? If yes, then you will need to contact your physician to replace the medicine lost in the fire. This is common enough that established protocols will enable you to quickly get the prescription medication you need.
- Since fires happen quickly and without warning, you most likely need to replace clothing and essential items. You might be surprised at how much needs to be replaced but a few trips to a department store can resolve this for the short term. Keep the receipts so you can submit them to the insurance company for reimbursement.
- Did you the fire destroy your driver’s license, passport, credit cards, checks, bank ATM cards, and birth certificates? If yes, you should start the process of replacing these important documents.
- The fire department will prepare a report on the cause of the fire. Contact the fire department to obtain a copy of the report, it may be needed for the insurance claim.
- You will want to return to the home as soon as it is safe to do so to recover personal items such as photos, heirlooms, important documents, and other possessions that were not destroyed. Coordinate with the fire protection and clean up company to help you with this task.
- Notify all essential businesses of your new contact information and mailing address. This includes the post office, bank, mortgage company, credit card companies, utility companies, and other important vendors.
- One of the most tedious but important tasks will be to compile a complete and detailed list of all personal items destroyed in the fire. The insurance company will use this as the basis to settle your personal property claim so inventory everything right down to the salt shaker.
- The insurance company has an adjuster who looks after and protects their interest so you may want to engage a public insurance claims adjuster who will work on your behalf. A public insurance claim adjuster will typically be paid a percentage of the total claim amount. They are not cheap but they usually pay for themselves because they know how the insurance company functions and will get you the maximum amount you are entitled to per the policy. Plus, their sole job is to deal with the insurance company and resolve claim issues, relieving you of that burden and hassle.
With the primary tasks taken care of, we can turn our focus our attention on how to make the best of this tragic situation. Thankfully, there are only two options that need to be considered. You can live in temporary housing while the claim is being processed and the home is being rebuilt then move back in or sell the home as-is. After weighing their options and realizing that the family could be living in temporary housing for a long time, many families decide it is much better and easier to sell the home as-is.
What are the advantages of selling a fire damaged home as-is:
- You are quickly paid cash for the value of the home.
- Your family gets their normal life back in weeks instead of months.
- The risk of cost overruns, delays or other problems are eliminated
- Combining the sale and insurance proceeds can be financially beneficial.
- You avoid the trauma of moving back into the home.
- You are not left with the lingering doubt if the contractor truly repaired everything correctly.
- You don’t have to hire contractors and manage construction while trying to live a normal life.
The number one reason most families decide to sell their fire-damaged homes is the ability to reclaim control of their life.
Fortunately, there are reputable companies, like OutFactors, that will buy fire damaged homes as-is for cash and close quickly. OutFactors will buy fire damaged homes in any condition, even if it may need to be completely torn down and rebuilt. If you would like to reclaim your life and sell your fire-damaged home immediately, we encourage you to get started today. To get an all-cash offer all you need to do is answer 4 simple questions. You will get an offer in 1 day and can close within 10 days or less.
Get your life back! A house fire is a tragedy but it can also be the beginning of your new life.