A house fire is often a frightening and complex event, but there are steps you can take now to lessen insurance problems once you file a claim.
First and foremost, it is important to minimize the possibility of having a fire claim at all by eliminating potential sources of fire. Combustibles near open flames or heat sources, dry leaves piled up near the home, space heaters and candles, sealed bags of oily rags, and improperly disposed of ashes or embers are some common causes of home fires. The number-one cause, however, is cooking—especially unattended stovetop cooking.
Unfortunately, even those who practice good fire safety can sometimes experience a blaze. If you have a few things in order, you will have a smoother claims experience.
- Have accessible a grab-and-go, fireproof box that contains your essential papers: your insurance policy and contacts; your crucial financial papers, including the titles to your vehicles and deed to your home (or mortgagor information); your health insurance cards; your home inventory; and any appraisals you have had done on jewelry or other valuables.
- Store as much of your critical information as possible online or in a safe deposit box in case you can’t get to your fireproof box.
- Talk to your insurance agent every year so you are familiar with essentials, such as temporary housing, temporary transportation, preferred restoration companies, and claims rules and processes. It’s much better to have thought about these beforehand so that, if a fire loss happens, you are not caught unaware.