What To Do After a House Fire

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The U.S. Fire Administration reported 353,500 house fires in the United States in 2021. These fires came with an economic cost of $8 billion.

In the aftermath of a house fire, it’s important to know what to do. Knowing what steps to take after a house fire can minimize financial loss, help you rebuild your life quickly and protect your mental health.

The Houston fire damage insurance claim attorneys at Haun Mena explain 10 things to do after a house fire.

10 Things To Do After a House Fire

1. Stay out until it’s safe

Don’t enter the home until the fire marshal tells you it’s safe. Even then, there may be damage to the foundation, plumbing or electrical systems and soot and smoke damage. These hazards may pose hidden dangers. You should shut off utilities until a professional can verify that it’s safe.

Fortunately, your insurance policy likely provides some coverage for living arrangements while you’re waiting to return to your home. Check your policy for coverage. Some options may be a hotel, short-term rental, assistance from a local disaster relief organization or other church and civic organizations.

2. Tell your insurance company

Don’t wait to tell your insurance company about the fire. You’re not going to have complete information about all the damage to the home and personal losses right away. However, you need to tell the insurance company that the fire occurred. A timely report creates a clear timeline of events. It also allows the insurance company to begin the claims process so that you can receive the payments you need promptly.

3. Wait to make repairs

Even though you should tell the insurance company right away after a house fire, don’t rush to start repairs. The insurance company needs time to inspect. Starting repairs right away may lead to complications if the insurance company claims they aren’t able to fully assess the damage.

When you hire an attorney after a house fire, they can assist you in working with the insurance company to commence repairs promptly.

4. Mitigate damages

While you shouldn’t start repairs right away, you will need to take some steps to mitigate damages. You may need to address structural integrity. Electrical damage may create an additional fire risk. Soot and smoke damage can be a health risk. Debris may create a slip and fall danger. There may be water damage from the fire department putting out the fire.

Addressing these problems can stop additional harm to your home. Otherwise, the insurance company may use failure to mitigate the damage as grounds to deny or lower your payment.

5. Save the evidence

Save evidence that may be important to your insurance claim. If there are any tangible items relating to the cause of the fire, like cookware, a candle or electrical components, save them. Take photographs of the damage. Begin to itemize your losses. Keep receipts as you incur expenses for replacement items.

6. Get the fire department report

The fire department that responded to the fire should create an incident report. The report will contain basic information like the address of the fire and the names of those involved in responding. It will also contain a report of the fire in narrative form. Request a copy of the fire incident report.

7. Replace important documents

You may need to replace important personal documents. Determine what is missing like your driver’s license, passport, vehicle registration, citizenship paperwork, will and trust information, birth certificates, and school and work identification. Replacing these documents can take time, but it’s an important step in rebuilding after a house fire.

8. Figure out finances

Unfortunately, your mortgage is still due, even when a house fire occurs. You may have a car payment, payment for phones, student loans and other expenses. Being the victim of a house fire can create financial hardship. It’s important to look at your finances and make a plan to address your needs.

9. Document communications with the insurance company

Whenever you interact with the insurance company, you should keep a record. Save emails, letters and other written communications. If you talk to someone on the phone, take notes of your conversation. This will help you work constructively with the insurance company to receive your compensation. It can also help hold the insurance company accountable to process your claim correctly and promptly.

10. Take care of your mental health

A house fire may be one of the most stressful things you ever experience. You don’t plan for it, and it can impact your life, personally and financially. Be mindful of how stressful a house fire can be. Addressing your needs – the insurance claim, housing and personal finances can mitigate some of this stress. Be sure to check on family members. Recognize that your mental health needs are important after a house fire.

What Happens Next After a House Fire?

After a house fire, you may reenter the home when the fire marshal says it’s safe. However, your home may be more damaged than you think. You should find other living accommodations until the home is structurally secure and hazardous particles are cleaned from the home. The fire marshal will complete a report.

Should you hire a lawyer after a house fire?

When you hire a lawyer after a house fire, you have a professional to assist you in working with the insurance company. They can guide you through documenting losses, a timeline for what steps to take and negotiating your compensation. Your lawyer represents you in seeking fair compensation for your losses, assisting you with all the steps for your claim.

Talk to an Insurance Claim Lawyer in Houston

Are you left wondering what to do after a house fire? It can be one of the most harrowing life events, but you can have a lawyer help you.

We invite you to contact Haun Mena to talk about your situation. We can assist you with everything following the claims process, including pursuing your compensation with the homeowners insurance company. Call 713-874-9216 or message us today.

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