What to Do If the Fires Damaged or Destroyed Your Home
Surviving a serious wildfire might be the most frightening experience of your life. Now that you’re on the other end of it, you need help knowing what to do about a damaged or destroyed home. Retaining a wildfire attorney can significantly help you during the first stages of the recovery process. A lawyer can help you with what to do, who to call, and how to seek maximum recovery for damages. Here are the steps to take after a destructive fire.
The immediate aftermath of a major wildfire is not the safest location to linger. California is still under red alert for wildfires. Realize that you may not yet be safe to begin rebuilding. Water, smoke damage, and soot left behind from a fire can also pose risks to your health and safety. Only return to the property once government officials lift the evacuation orders. Be very careful if you go into your home. Touching fire-damaged items can be hazardous. Ask for help from the fire department if necessary.
Contact local disaster relief services such as the American Red Cross to take care of you and your family’s immediate needs. There are many local services offering shelter, food, clothes, and other basic necessities to fire victims who cannot return home. There may also be hotels in your region reopening to take in displaced residents. If you cannot return home, settle someplace safe. Keep all of your receipts for housing, food, and other necessities.
Call Your Insurance Company
Do not delay in notifying your homeowners insurance company about the damage or destruction of your Wine Country home. You may get phone calls from public adjusters or others to offer you deals in rebuilding your home. Speak to your insurance company before discussing the matter with any other party. Ask your agent what you should do about the immediate needs of your home. The company may require you to try to minimize damage, such as pumping out water.
Record Your Losses
Make a comprehensive list of everything you lost in the fire. This includes all the personal possessions you can remember and an estimate of their values. Your insurance company will ask you to describe lost property in detail, including how you originally paid for items. The company may also ask for receipts for any money you spend during evacuation and recovery. Take photos of the damage for your records.
Ask for Advice
Ask your insurance company for names of companies and contractors you can trust for repairs and rebuilding. You may need to hire services to protect your home from further damage, repair damaged properties, estimate costs to replace destroyed property, clean fire and smoke damage, and more. Be sure to ask your insurance company who will pay for these services. Insurance policies often cover them. Again, keep all of your receipts.
Cooperate with the Insurance Investigation
Your insurance company or companies will need to launch investigations into your claim. California Gov. Jerry Brown issued an executive order asking insurance companies to expedite claims relating to the Wine Country Fires. You may find that this makes the claims process speedier than usual. Cooperate fully with your insurance company for the fastest recovery.
Contact an Attorney
Finally, call Eric Ratinoff Law for a free consultation about where to go from here. Your insurance policy may not offer adequate coverage if you suffered total loss of your home. You will need to pursue recovery through other means, such as the civil legal system. A conversation with one of our skilled attorneys can open your eyes to potential legal options in the wake of a devastating wildfire. Get in touch today for more information.