This is the final installment in our three-part blog post providing a primer for victims of fire damage claims. Many homeowners whose homes are devastated in a fire have never had to file a claim with their insurance company. The goal of our Miami property damage law firm is to make this process as painless as possible.
Determine the value of your fire loss, which means not relying on the amount your insurance carrier contends the claim is worth.
There are two distinct valuation methods that might be used to determine the amount you are entitled to receive depending on your policy. If you have a “replacement cash value” policy, the value of your claim is equal to the amount that would be required to replace your home and the contents that are lost. The proceeds of your insurance claim can be used to rebuild at a different location, or the funds can be diverted to another purpose entirely. If the funds will not be used to rebuild, the policy will convert to an “actual cash value" policy.
While the insurance company will assign an adjuster and potentially another investigator to determine the value of your loss based on the type of policy, representatives of the insurer cannot be trusted to be unbiased because they are paid to protect the interests of the insurance carrier. If you retain an experienced contractor who is knowledgeable in fire damage and insurance issues, you will benefit from knowing he or she has your best interests at heart.
Recognize that you can receive advances against your fire damage claim.
When you are suddenly forced from your home because of the unsafe condition of the premises, you might be left without essential items you need to attend work or school. If you evacuated without items like clothing or toiletries, you might be able to obtain an advance against your insurance claim. The insurer might have a check delivered to facilitate the purchase of such items. While this can be a useful option, the cost of such items will be deducted against the total value of your claim, so prudence is merited when taking an advance.
Avoid discarding any debris or damaged items.
The insurance company will be less inclined to dispute compensation for damaged items if you do not discard debris that helps show the item was damaged in the fire. While you can still obtain compensation for items if the remains of an item is discarded, you might have to deal with more hassles in obtaining recovery.
If your property damage claim has been denied following a fire in Miami or the surrounding areas of Florida, we might be able to help. My law firm represents policyholders in claims disputes in Miami and throughout Florida. The Law Firm of J.P. Gonzalez-Sirgo, P.A. offers free consultations and case evaluations. No Recovery, No Lawyer Fees. Call 305-461-1095 or Toll Free 1-866-71-CLAIM.