Fire or flood is an insured’s worst nightmare. When a home is engulfed in flames or flooded with water, not only does the fire or water destroy all property, but it also deteriorates the houses’ interior.For insurers, this loss is also a calamity, in particular, because of secondary damage. Smoke, water, and chemicals worsen the home’s condition, leading to long and complicated reimbursement procedures. The devastation caused by a fire or water is generally very important. Home insurance generally covers this risk with varying degrees of effectiveness, depending on the company. Getting compensation takes time, and the procedures are quite tedious. Let’s have a look at what to do after a loss to your house.
What to do after the fire
· If you have had to leave your home, do not return home until you have received permission.
· Find out if any vulnerable family members, friends, and neighbors need special help.
· In case of injury, seek treatment from a healthcare professional.
· If you cannot stay in your home because of the damage, contact the local authorities to help you find temporary accommodation.
· If necessary, contact your insurance company.
· Take precautions when cleaning your home. Wear protective clothing, including boots, eye protection, and rubber gloves while cleaning.
· It may be necessary to clean some household items several times to get rid of the smell of smoke, soot, and stains. Take an inventory of destroyed furniture, appliances, books, etc. for insurance purposes and keep all receipts for expenses related to living expenses, repairs, etc.
· Make sure the food and water you consume is safe. Throw away any food items that may have been exposed to heat, smoke, or soot, and do not use water that may be contaminated.
What to do after the flood:
- Stay informed of the latest instructions from the authorities. Listen to the radio or local media and / or follow emergency services or local news on social media.
- Do not return home until you are informed that there is no longer any danger.
- Contact your insurer to describe what just happened. Explain the extent of the property damage and send photos or videos, if necessary.
- Maintain good hygienic practices during clean-up by reducing contact with flood water or any items contaminated by floodwater.
- Wear protective clothing, including sturdy boots or rubber boots, eye protection, hard hat, rubber gloves, and a dust mask.
- Do not use water that may have been contaminated.
- When in doubt, don’t take the risk and throw away any food that may have been exposed to flood water.
- Do not use any appliance, heating, pressure, or sewage system until all electrical components are dry and have been inspected by a professional electrician.
- Check with your local authorities or your community on how to dispose of your damaged items.
- Inform your insurer about the loss to your house after the flood.
What steps to take to be compensated after a loss to your house?
- As a first step, it is imperative to contact your insurer as soon as possible in order to notify him of the loss within five working days by completing a fire or explosion declaration. It is preferable to send the latter by registered letter with acknowledgment of receipt, including your name and the references of your contract, the date, and the causes of the loss.
- Then, it is advisable to send your insurance company a precise description of the damage suffered during the accident. Do not hesitate to provide a complete list of damaged items, with supporting photos, to present the complete file. It is essential to be able to provide an estimate of the amount of each item destroyed, so everyone’s invoices and proof of payment are welcome. You can contact your insurance agent by phone, emergency numbers exist, but it is still preferable to go directly.
- It is then the expert’s turn to come into play. Appointed by your insurance company, he is responsible for noting the damage and making an assessment of the damage caused by the fire or water. It is advisable to attend the expertise and thus give your point of view and additional information if necessary. As you must provide proof of damage, nothing should be thrown away, and even the remains of burnt items should be kept. All documents proving the existence and value of damaged goods are important, no detail should be overlooked.
- With regard to compensation, once the expert’s report has been established and validated by the insured and the insurer, damage coverage is taken over by your company. The “fire” or natural disaster guarantee also provides for compensation for losses on a margin of 10 to 18% of the basic compensation. If unfortunately, your home has to be razed, the costs are covered by the insurance, up to 5% of the basic compensation. The rehousing costs are established either according to the value of your home if you are an owner or your rent if you are a tenant.
- The first thing to know is that it is only possible to be compensated if you have taken out comprehensive home insurance. Tenants and owners also have an obligation to clear the area around their accommodation; otherwise, the compensation may be reduced or even canceled.
- Multi-risk home insurance covers “only what is under the roof of the house.” In other words, the exteriors, including “the small wall, the terrace, the trees or the garden furniture, are not supported.” To cover these elements, an extension of guarantee must be added as soon as the insurance contract is taken out.
To conclude, you have to be rigorous in your procedures when you are the victim of a fire or flood. It is best to do things in order, even if it takes a little longer, to be compensated at best in the end. Nothing prevents you from hiring an expert yourself for an additional damage assessment to compare with your insurer. Anyway, it is advisable to wait until the end of all the steps to start any renovation work; it is up to the insurer to give the green light. Your insurance sometimes covers the reconstruction costs, but you have to be patient, the reimbursement periods are generally very long.