Steps to Take After a Fire
For most people, their home is the biggest financial investment they will make in their lifetime. A home also serves as a 'safe space' where you come to rest, store your belongings, and keep your pets. Fire and smoke damage can not only come as a huge loss, but it can also feel like an enormous burden has been placed on your shoulders. The average person has not been trained in fire restoration, the insurance coverage process, or what role they can play in the recovery process. Here are a few steps you should take to ensure that the process runs as smoothly as possible:
1. Call Your Insurance Company
One of the first things you should do after any damage to your home occurs is to call your insurance agent. Contacting him or her right away will allow you to get the process started quickly. Because a fire or smoke insurance claim may take a while, you will want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. This is especially important if the fire was extinguished with water. This means that you likely have water damage in addition to the fire damage that needs to be addressed immediately to prevent possible microbial growth.
2. Contact a Professional Restoration Service
In some cases, your insurance company or agent may give you a list of restoration services that they recommend. You should arrange to have these professionals come in as soon as you can to assess the situation. They will perform smoke cleaning as well as any necessary repairs to the building. They may be able to salvage some of your damaged belongings as well, depending on the severity of the damage.
3. Take Photos of Affected Areas and Belongings
While you are waiting for the restoration company, it is a good idea to take pictures of any areas of your home that have been damaged in the fire. The insurance company will use these to help determine the amount of your claim. The restoration company may also take pictures before they begin working. Be sure to put your safety first! If the structure seems unstable, any walls or ceilings seem weakened, or any hazardous fumes are present, do not go in the home.
4. Prevent Further Damage
Sometimes, your insurance company will require immediate remediation to prevent additional damage. If the conditions are safe, you can assist with this before the professionals arrive by moving smaller items to safer locations and blocking off areas that have not been affected.
Because fire and smoke damage remediation can be a lengthy and costly process, you should do what you can to ensure your insurance company approves your claim. Acting quickly and contacting them right away is a great place to start.
It is advisable to keep a digital inventory of your belongings and the contents of your home in case you were to suffer a fire in the future. If an Excel spreadsheet is not your style, simply take a video of your home, furniture, and belongings. Be sure to include important information such as serial numbers, brand names, sizes, etc. of any valuables so that the insurance company will reimburse you for the true value of your things.
If you have suffered fire or smoke damage in your home, call SERVPRO North Huntsville to schedule an inspection at (256) 534-1177.