Important Steps In The Fire Insurance Claim Process

Claims for auto accidents and health insurance are fairly common. In fact, most of us have some experience with these types of claims. However, not many of us can say the same thing about fire insurance. While that’s certainly a good thing, not knowing how the process works can leave policyholders feeling a bit lost during an emotionally charged time.

Fire insurance expert Dave Peterson provided some insight into the fire insurance claims process. “The first thing the consumer has to do is give notice to the insurance company. Once that notice is given, then the time requirements start coming into play and they have to start an investigation within 15 days. They have to accept or deny the claim within 40 days. They need to explain all the coverages that are available to the insured so that the insured has enough information to intelligently guide itself during the claim process.”

Personal property issues

According to Peterson, one of the biggest problems for both the insurance industry and the insureds has to do with personal property because the insurance industry requires that the insured prove the contents. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t know anybody that has receipts for everything that they have in their home. The problem is that the insurance industry wants to have this proof and it presents a great problem for the insureds. There are some insurers who are reasonable about it, but what I find that most of them are not.

If you have a major fire loss, the insurance company should be hiring a salvage company. The salvage company should be going in and making a list of everything that’s been destroyed. Usually, they do a very good job. It’s after that list is made up that you can then present it to the insured and have them fill in the blank spots –which are usually when an item was purchased and where it was purchased. However, that whole area of personal property claims is very contentious.”

Standing firm

When insurance companies don’t explain your benefits to you, stand firm and demand an explanation. That’s the advice of Bob Scott, a partner with the Advocate Law Group. According to Scott, “Unfortunately, many times the policy is burned up with the loss and you’re the last one to know all that you should know about it. It’s the company’s duty to tell you. If they don’t tell you, the first letter you should write to them is, ‘Please explain to me in detail how every segment of this coverage operates and how it should operate for me when I go out to look for replacement materials. Please tell me in writing.’ In all my experience, I’ve never seen one where the company has done a decent job of explaining that.”

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