How Can You Ensure Your Finances and House Are Adequately Restored After A Home Fire?

Posted on: 15 June 2015

A home fire can be one of the most devastating situations a family ever has to endure. The loss of priceless possessions (and sometimes even pets) and your family's displacement for weeks or months while your home is restored can be devastating. You may also find yourself worried about the financial cost of an insurance claim or struggling to pay bills before a settlement is reached. Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help ensure both your finances and you home are adequately restored after a fire.

What fire restoration services should be performed to your home?

When remediating fire damage, time is of the essence. And if fire hoses or other fire suppression devices have been unleashed within your home, you could also be contending with potential water damage. The longer your personal items remain within the home and are subject to smoke fumes and moisture, the less likely they are to be saved. Contacting a restoration company as quickly as possible after your fire can ensure that the damage to your home and belongings is limited.

It's likely that fire marshals will prevent you and your family from re-entering your home to get any personal belongings. However, if you are permitted to briefly return to your home, you may want to take this opportunity to move any valuable papers, soft-surfaced items (like upholstered chairs, clothes, or blankets) and other fragile items to a room of your home that was less affected by the fire. This can help limit any smoke damage and possibly prevent these items from being disposed of.

Once the fire restoration crews arrive, they'll quickly air out your home by opening all vents and windows and using industrial fans to move the air from within the home. Any soft items will be removed from the home and placed in a secure location, and power will be shut off to the home to ensure that there is no risk of electrical shock. Crews will then scrub down walls and any other hard surfaces within the home with a special solution designed to remove soot particles. Industrial wet/dry vacuums will soak up any water that remains from the fire's extinguishing, and carpet may be torn out (to be replaced later) if it has sustained serious water or smoke damage. When this procedure is undertaken shortly after the fire has stopped, soot particles and water have had less time to permeate the structure of the home, and damage is therefore minimized.

How will you pay for these services?

If you have a mortgage on your home, you're generally required to carry an adequate amount of homeowner's insurance to rebuild or restore your home to its former condition if it is flooded or suffers a fire. This is good news, as it means your out-of-pocket expenses should be limited. 

Once you and your family are safe, you'll want to call your insurance company to report the claim and to request an advance on your eventual insurance settlement. This allows you to pay for temporary lodging or purchase supplies (including clothing, food, and other necessities) that you need immediately. In some cases, an insurance representative will physically bring you a check, while in other cases, the money may be electronically transferred to your bank account. Be sure to keep track of all these reimbursable expenses so that you can provide them to your insurance company later.

An insurance claims adjuster will then visit your home, inspecting it to determine the amount of damage. He or she may also have a contracting company provide an estimate of the cost to repair (or replace) your home to determine which of these options is more viable. Because the lender has a vested interest in ensuring that your home is restored to its former condition, and your insurance company has a vested interest in ensuring that your home isn't vulnerable to further damage, it's likely that the decision will be made with both structural and financial considerations in mind. You have the right to be informed throughout this process and to have any questions answered.

For more information about what to do after your house fire, contact a local fire and water restoration company like Central Flood Management Inc.