What to Do After a House Fire: A Claimant’s Guide

Posted on February 16, 2024


Long Nguyen | author

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ICHQ | Site Author

After a house fire, what should you do first? You have a lot to worry about when your home catches fire, including your health, your insurance, and your belongings.

The legal team at Insurance Claim HQ has put together this checklist covering what to do after a house fire. Our fire damage claim attorneys serve New Orleans and Louisiana homeowners and are standing by to help you move forward after a blaze at your house.

Related: Fire Claim Process: 8 Things You Need to Know

What to Do After a Fire in Your House

1. Get immediate medical attention

Visit a medical provider for help with any burns or smoke inhalation suffered from escaping the home. Make sure everyone present at the home gets evaluated after a fire, including looking after your pets’ health at the veterinarian.

Also, notify your loved ones that you’re okay and accounted for, and take care of your mental health in the days following the fire.

2. Review your insurance policy

One of the first things you should do after a house fire regarding your insurance is to review your policy. Fire insurance policies differ in what they cover. While many of your damages should be covered, there may be some losses that aren’t.

3. Notify your insurance company after a fire

Reach out to your local insurance agent and let them know that a fire has occurred. Contacting your insurance carrier as soon as is safely possible will help you to fight any accusations of negligence and start the claims process. The longer you wait to report the fire, the more likely your insurance company is to deny coverage.

Your insurer may be able to direct you towards resources to cover your immediate needs and help arrange temporary living expenses. You might also consider contacting a local disaster relief agency like the Red Cross for help finding a place to stay until it’s safe to return.

4. Request the report from the fire department

Your local fire department likely investigated where the fire started, and how it started. This info can be obtained in a fire incident report.

However, insurance companies will still want to do their own investigation into the fire and estimate your losses. Obtaining the fire investigation report is a good place to start understanding how the accident happened.

5. Don’t enter your home until it is safe to do so

There are many health risks that lurk in a fire-damaged home. Even if you’re cleared by the fire department to enter your house, make sure to have protection for your eyes, respiratory system, and skin.

6. Protect your home

Your home insurer may have told you that you need to mitigate further damage. Complete essential repairs to protect your home from the elements. Contacting a fire remediation company is a good place to start. Additionally, securing your home like boarding up broken windows will stop thieves from stealing your belongings.

7. Take photos

Make a visual record of all the damages and belongings in your house. Ideally, you could have these photos to compare to pictures you’ve taken before your house caught on fire. Capture all of the damage in photographs and plan to submit these with your claim.

8. Take inventory

One of the most important things you can do after a house fire is go from room-to-room and identify everything that the flames damaged. Don’t throw these away yet without the fire insurance adjuster making note of these.

In the meantime, track down as many sales receipts as you can to provide proof of ownership to these.

Related: How to Deal With an Insurance Adjuster After a House Fire

9. Separate your possessions

Depending on how large the fire was, there may be belongings of yours that were damaged by flames, soot, and the water used to put out the fire. Other things in separate rooms may have been untouched. Save these undamaged possessions in a safe place like a storage unit until repairs and restoration can be completed.

10. Contact a fire damage claim attorney

Getting legal guidance is one of the most important steps you can take after a house fire. An attorney can represent you during negotiations with the insurance company. With the right counsel, you can know exactly what you need to strengthen your claim, and avoid being pressured by the insurance company to settle your case for less.

Any issues that come up, like a claim denial, can be dealt with by your attorney. It’s best to contact and retain a lawyer as soon after your house fire as possible.

Prepare your claim

Begin filling out your insurance claim form. Avoid signing and submitting it until you have all your evidence and estimated damages in order. Your insurance adjuster might tell you what’s required to process your claim quickly, and your lawyer can also help round up documentation that would maximize your recovery.

Related: Why Did the Insurance Company Deny My Fire Claim?

Learn What to Do After a House Fire From an Experienced Attorney

Our home insurance lawyers focus on property-casualty claims following all kinds of disasters, including fires. Insurance Claim HQ has helped many homeowners like you know what to do with their insurance in the wake of a house fire. We can review your policy, help your fire damage claim move forward, and be ready to litigate if your insurance company tries to settle for less than you’re owed.

To get in touch, contact us online or call our lawyers now.

Post-Fire Checklist FAQs

How do I negotiate a fire insurance claim?

It’s disadvantageous of you to negotiate a claim for fire damage by yourself. Be wary of the first offer and ask an attorney for help knowing the real bottom line that your insurer should pay.

What happens to my mortgage if my house burns down?

Keep making mortgage payments to avoid defaulting on your loan and risking a foreclosure. You need to keep paying for your home even if it’s been destroyed by a fire.

Should I turn off utilities after a house fire?

Yes, shutting off water, electricity and natural gas services to your home is in your best interest. You should still pay any utility bills until you’re given the okay to restart service from your local fire marshal.