What Should You Do After a House Fire?

image of wooden home burning with flames and smoke

The destruction of your home after a fire can be a devastating experience. Loss of precious objects, memories, and, in the worst cases, loss of life can leave those affected wondering which direction to turn. 

If you have been the victim of a home fire, keep these steps in mind as you recover from the event. 

1. Get to Safety

The first thing you need to prioritize is your safety and that of your loved ones. Never assume your home is safe to enter after a fire, even if the damage seems minimal. Stay with friends or family until other arrangements can be made. 

If you do not have anyone you can stay with, you can contact your local chapters of Salvation Army or Red Cross, who will help you find safe, temporary lodging.

2. See Your Medical Provider

If you, your children, or your pets have inhaled any smoke for any length of time, it is wise to see your doctor. Even small amounts of smoke can damage the lungs, and severe burns may not be immediately visible under animal fur. 

In both pets and children, watch for signs of carbon monoxide poisoning, such as vomiting, red gums, rapid breathing, or fainting.

You may also wish to visit with a counselor or other mental health professional. Again, a fire and the loss that comes with it is a traumatic event. Make sure you are taking care of your mental health and that of your loved ones. 

3. Contact Your Insurance

You will want to start the claims process as soon as possible. The sooner you do this, the sooner you can have the financial security needed to truly move forward from your loss. Your adjuster will also be able to help you secure your property and offer resources for salvaging any remaining items.

If your policy includes a loss of use provision, you can obtain funds in advance of your final settlement to help mitigate living expenses. If you receive an advance like this, be sure to save all receipts for food, shopping, lodging and all other expenses incurred while you have been displaced from your home.

4. Make a Financial Plan

You are still obligated to make mortgage payments in the event of a fire. Your insurance policy should cover these payments as well as the total value of your home. Make sure you continue to make regular payments until you receive your settlement. The settlement can then be used to pay off the rest of your mortgage, with any remaining funds applied to rebuilding or purchasing a new home.

If any credit or debit cards were lost or destroyed in the fire, contact your bank to cancel these and order new ones as soon as possible.

5. Inventory Lost Possessions

Once your home is deemed safe to enter, you will be allowed to salvage personal items. As you do so, you will also want to make a careful inventory of items that were destroyed. 

Your homeowners insurance is typically a replacement-cost policy, which means it will cover the actual cash value of any lost items at the time of settlement. Make a record of the date of purchase, cost at the time of purchase, and a detailed description of the item (including photos, when available). 

Roth Group Law Represents Policyholders 

As a proud Denver firm, we are devastated by the losses our fellow Coloradans have suffered after the recent Marshall fire. We understand that filing an insurance claim may be the last thing on a person’s mind when they have been through a traumatic event.

As an insurance claims specialist, Dave Roth is here to make sure the claims process goes as smoothly as possible so you can focus on recovery and rebuilding. If you are having any difficulties with your fire damage claim, please give our office a call or go online to set up a free evaluation.