As an insurance provider, you may go weeks, months or even over a year without one of your insureds experiencing a home fire, but when they do, they will need your guidance more than ever!
Whether your insured has a small kitchen fire that leaves a little soot and an odor or a whole house fire which requires extensive restoration and repair services; they will be looking towards you to help them navigate the recovery process. To help prepare you for these situations, we have compiled the top 7 tips insurance agents can provide their customers after a home fire.
Helping Your Insured After A Fire
- Take Care of Their Basic Needs First
When your insured suffers a significant fire in their home, its not uncommon for them to have to find temporary living accommodations. Most major insurance carriers have internal services or are contracted with companies who handle this for the insured, but if your company doesn’t have that service, have a list of hotels ready to provide to your client. It’s also a good idea to have them get 3 to 5 days worth of new clothing, toiletries, etc. Remind your insured to keep the receipts so they can be reimbursed for the expenses.
2. Protect the Scene
If the fire is severe enough that the fire department is needed, remind the insured not disturb the scene after they leave. Often, insurance companies will send independent fire investigators to determine the cause and see if subrogation is possible. Protecting the scene doesn’t mean your insured can’t enter their home (if its safe to do so), but they should stay away from the area where the fire started until they are told they can.
3. Don’t Bring the Smoke Odor With Them
One of the most common mistakes we see fire victims make is transferring damaged items in their cars to their temporary living accommodations or temporary storage location. While it may seem like a good idea to get possessions out of the home to prevent damage, the items can transfer smoke odor when they are transported to an unaffected location. They are best contracting with a fire damage restoration company to handle this process.
Helpful Tip: Prepare Memories for a House Fire
4. Don’t Dispose of Items Without First Documenting The Item
When a fire occurs, your client will want to start the recovery process as quickly as possible, but sometimes they get overzealous and make the process more difficult. If an insured wants to dispose of items before an insurance adjuster inspects them, make sure they take pictures, document the make, model, and serial number when possible. This will make the claims process much easier and help ensure your insured gets full reimbursement.
5. Dispose of the Food In Their Home
Food that is in a fire is exposed to intense heat and potentially harmful soot. While they may think the food in a closed freezer or a sealed can is safe for consumption, it’s best to error on the safe side and document the food items and then dispose of them. Again, make sure the adjuster has as much information as possible for proper reimbursment.
6. Hire the Contractors They Feel Most Comfortable With
After a fire, homeowners face a potentially long road to recovery and it’s important they have a good working relationship with the contractors they hire. Your client will be working with a textile restoration contractor, general contractor, content restoration contractor and will also have to work with subcontractors to rebuild/decorate their home. Selecting contractors who they can place their trust in and feel confident they will be taken care of is crucial to a smooth restoration process.
The AmeriClean Difference: Handcrafted Loveseat- Affected by a fire, restored by AmeriClean
7. Encourage Them to Establish a New Routine as Quickly as Possible!
We saved the most important one for last…get into a new routine as quickly as possible, especially if children are affected by the fire. The stress of a house fire is especially difficult for children. Help them realize everything is going to be OK by getting into a new routine as soon as possible. Getting back to their normal after school, family time, and bedtime routine will help things seem as normal as possible even though they may be in a different home. Here’s another tip to help kids after a fire, if possible, ask the contents restoration company to make their favorite toys or games a priority item and return them to the children as soon as possible.
Related: Getting Back to Normal After A Fire
One last piece of advice, fires are incredibly traumatic and sometimes people need to be reassured things are going to get better. Listen to their concerns, be prepared for the conversation to become emotional and look for small ways you can demonstrate things will get better!
If you would like to learn more about how you can help your clients recover after a house fire, please feel free to reach out to us at 219-942-8100.