Fires can cause serious damage to homes in Florida. Whether you're living in a single family house or a beach condo in Brandon, a fire can leave you out of your property for weeks, months, and in many cases even longer. It's important to remember that fires cause property damage from more than just the flames. To be sure, heat and smoke can also wreak havoc on a home, as can the water that firefighters must use to contain the blaze.
Be Prepared for Unexpected Fire Damage
As the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) explains, "you will find that things the fire did not burn up are now ruined by smoke and soggy with water used to put out the flames." In certain situations, firefighters might even have needed to cut holes in the walls of a structure to look for additional flames, or they may have "cut holes in the roof to let out the heat and smoke." In short, fires tend to be life-changing situations.
It can be difficult to think about getting back to normal, even after you've submitted your fire damage claim. For the process of gathering materials you'll need to file your insurance claim and starting the route back toward everyday life, FEMA offers some tips, as well as useful responses to frequently asked questions.
Know What to Do Immediately After the Fire
Once firefighters have quelled the blaze on your property and you've gotten your family to safety, you'll need to think about putting your life back together. The immediate aftermath of a fire can feel overwhelming, and it's important to take the proper steps to prepare for filing your fire damage claim. As soon as the fire has been put out, it's important to:
● Avoid entering your home. The fire damage likely created a hazardous environment, from roofs or floors that could cave in to electrical cords that have been immersed in standing water. And if firefighters have turned off your utilities, it's because they're no longer safe to use. As FEMA emphasizes, "do not try to turn them back on yourself."
● Contact your insurance company. Your insurance agent will let you know precisely what information they'll need to begin the process of reimbursing you for the damage. Many insurance companies ask for a detailed list of items damaged in the fire, along with valuations. Your insurance company can also explain how it will handle the "immediate needs of your home," such as "pumping out water and covering doors, windows, and other openings."
● Find out about cleaning services that specialize in fire damage. You will want to get your insurance company to pay for this if possible. An experienced Central Florida property insurance attorney can help you with this. And once you do find reputable cleaning services, it's important to get multiple estimates in writing, along with a detailed description of the work to be completed.
● Replace important documents and credit cards. Many personal items get lost and destroyed in home fires. It's important to begin replacing these items in the days after the incident. From replacing driver's licenses and mortgage papers to credit cards and other financial materials, you will need to contact lenders, banks, and other agencies to begin the process.
Most importantly, you will need a dedicated Brandon fire damage lawyer on your side. Insurance companies want to pay as little as possible when they receive a claim-insurance agents do not advocates for policyholders. Don't hesitate to contact an experienced advocate at the Wells Law Group, P.A. to learn more about services we offer to Florida residents.