Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fire Damage Restoration

May 25, 2018

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As soon as you purchase a home, the worries start to flood in about what could go wrong. That includes a fire that destroys everything that you have worked so hard for.

With proper homeowners’ insurance coverage, most of the damages caused by smoke and fire are covered. As long as you have a policy and you’re paying it, there are going to be funds coming your way to pay for a plethora of problems related to the fire. You may have to pay a deductible, but the amount of cash needed for that is going to be significantly lower than what it would cost to replace your property and belongings out of your own pocket.

How to Know If You Have Coverage

If you have ever gone through the home buying process, you are well aware that they require you to have house insurance on your property before they finance you for your loan. When you are purchasing your home with cash, or without the assistance of a bank, you are going to be responsible for going out and finding and keeping insurance on your home.

Much like your vehicle, there are an endless amount of options when it comes to what company to select, prices, and what kind of coverage you can get. Before you decide on which one to purchase, you should get estimates from several different places. You might be surprised at how much the price can vary from one company to the next.

While you are talking with an agent about your policy, you can discuss with them what types of coverage are included for fire damage restoration. When you get your policy in the mail, you will find all the details written in there about exactly what is covered, how much your deductible is, and what you are expected to do if you do have to make a policy claim due to fire damages.

What Can Be Covered?

Every homeowner’s insurance policy is going to be a bit different. When signing up for your plan, they will ask you what kind of coverage you want in different areas. The standard for most is going to be the clean up that is necessary from water or smoke after a fire.
There may be a need for a team to come in and clean up the walls, floors, ceilings, and anything else that was affected. In other cases, when the home is completely wiped out, the policy will often give the homeowner a specific amount of money that was predetermined based on the value of the house to rebuild from the ground up completely.
Besides just having your home rebuild or restoration took care of through your homeowners’ insurance, there are a variety of other things that may be covered, depending on the type of policy that you have. Some of those include:

  • Personal belongings
  • Debris removal
  • Cost of living while displaced from your home
  • Detached structures

The number of personal belongings that are going to be paid for after a fire is limited based on your policy. Say you are someone with expensive jewelry or artwork for instance that is kept in the home; you will want to talk to your agent about getting additional coverage for those items. It might cost a little bit more in your premium, but it will pay off in the event of a catastrophic event like a fire.

What Isn’t Covered

There are a few things that you might want to think about when it comes to homeowners’ insurance and what it may not cover. For instance, if you keep your car outside and the flames cause it to melt or there are other damages to it, your homeowners’ insurance is not going to cover the repair costs. You need to have an additional vehicle insurance policy including comprehensive coverage for that to be paid for by someone other than you.
Your home is going to be more susceptible to vandalism and theft after a fire if it is sitting vacant. While your homeowners insurance will cover those events, it is going to have to be an additional claim that you file. It will not be covered under the same claim that you filed for the fire itself.
That is why it is essential to secure the property as best as possible before leaving it. There will be some time between the actual fire, and when you can move back in, so you want to prevent something like that from happening at all costs.
Make sure that you read the fine print when you go over your policy. Some agencies consider water damage and severe water damage two different things. If the water damage that has occurred during a fire falls in the latter category, you may want to look into getting flood insurance if a fire is a concern. That is the type of coverage that will cover all kinds of water damages, no matter how severe. Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, it is a small price to pay on your premium to have peace of mind that you will be covered no matter what.

How to File a Claim

Filing a claim isn’t always going to be the most straightforward process. It is essential that you document everything that was damaged as a result of the fire. That can include any of the following items:

  • Structure
  • Interior of the home
  • Personal belongings

The best way to do this is by taking videos or photographs of anything that has been affected. In addition to that, they are going to require that you record:

  • The type of loss you are claiming (Fire)
  • The general condition of the home
  • Location
  • A written description of the damages
  • Any injuries
  • Police report if there was one made
  • Date of the fire

After some fires, you may have to board up a window or door to ensure the safety and security of the property at least temporarily. If you have to do that, make sure that you also report that to your insurance company as well. You are going to want to turn in any receipts for supplies or labor when that happens so that you can be reimbursed for it if it’s something that your policy covers.

Your Restoration Deductible

In whatever policy you choose, you are going to be required to pay a deductible before the insurance company hands over the funds that are necessary to pay for the restoration. It’s kind of like when you go and pick up a prescription at the pharmacy. The cost of the pills might be $150, but because you have prescription coverage on your health insurance policy, you only have to pay $10.
The higher the amount of your deductible, the lower your policy price is going to be. However, make sure that if you choose a higher deductible, it’s an amount of money that you are going to have access to when you need it. There aren’t a lot of people that have an extra $1,000 or more lying around, especially after an emergency has occurred. It is something that you can discuss with your agent, and they can help you in choosing the best option.

How Long Before The Claim Is Processed?

The amount of time that an insurance company has to process a claim is going to vary from state to state. It could be anywhere from several weeks to several months before anything is paid out.
Federal and state laws are what determine how long an agency has to take action. In most instances, the insuring company has to make an acknowledgment that the claim has been received within a ten to 30-day time frame. Following that acknowledgment, they have around 40 days or so to either deny the request or accept it. Those are just examples, however, and every claim and company is going to vary.

Your Estimate

After the policy is accepted from the insurance company, they will give you an estimate of what you will be receiving in total for the restoration, personal belongings, and any other items that they are going to pay for on your behalf.
You may see something on the estimate that says replacement cost or actual cost. These two different ideas surround depreciation value. For an actual cost value, you will get what the depreciated value of the item is at the time it was lost subtracted from the amount that it would cost to replace it.
Say that you had a television that you paid $4,000 for brand new ten years ago. You may want to get that same $4,000 back for it, but because it was ten years old when it was lost, it’s not going to be worth that amount anymore. They will also take into consideration what it will cost to get a similar item to replace the old one based off of the current sales prices. Televisions were a lot more expensive ten years ago than what they are today, so there is a good chance you are going to get a lesser amount of money for it and other items like it.

Getting the Fire Damage Restoration Work Done

After your claim has been sent through to your insurance company, now it’s time for you to start calling around to fire restoration companies to get quotes on what it’s going to cost to get your repairs done. This is something that you are going to want to do as soon as the fire department gives you the all clear.
You are going to have soot, water, and smoke sitting in your home. The longer it sits there, the more damage it’s going to cause. The first thing that your restoration company is going to do is come in and clean out all the water. After the water is dried up, it will allow clear access to get the rest of the work done.
Some of the items that your restoration company will be taking care of include:

  • Appliances
  • Furniture
  • Light fixtures
  • Windows flooring
  • Walls
  • Ceilings
  • Upholstery

Before doing that, they will have to go through and see what can be salvaged and what is completely destroyed and needs to be replaced. It is essential to take note of their findings because this is s something that you are going to want to report to your insurance provider as well.
There may be some items that remained untouched by the fire, smoke, and water. In that case, the restoration company will store them out of the way and perhaps even off the property while they get the rest of the job done.

When Can You Move Back In?

Without question, you are going to want to move back into your home as soon as possible. Nobody wants to live in a temporary housing situation for any longer than necessary. When the restoration company tells you that the work is done, you aren’t quite ready though. You are going to have to have an inspection done to make sure that it is safe.
Here is a list of the items that will be inspected:

  • Roof
  • Siding, stucco, concrete
  • Structural steel and iron
  • Interior walls and framing
  • Heating and plumbing
  • Windows
  • Mold and soot
  • Air quality

Before you put your family back into a home that has been through severe fire and smoke, the number one priority is ensuring that it is going to be safe to live in. By getting a proper inspection, you can rest assured that there are not going to be any further hazards or health problems to worry about.

What If You Don’t Have Coverage that Covers Fire Damage Restoration?

In the rare instance that you don’t have coverage for fire restoration, you are going to be responsible for all the repairs and replacements necessary to get your home back up to a livable condition again. That is why it is pretty imperative to have some coverage on your home at all times.

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