Houston Fire Insurance Claims Help

Fires are dangerous, destructive, and powerful forces. They have no problem completely destroying homes and reducing them to nothing more than a pile of ashes. Unfortunately, these terrifying experiences are all too common across Texas and the United States.

In fact, the National Fire Protection Association estimates that fires caused $14.8 billion in property damage during 2019. They also caused approximately 3,700 deaths and 16,600 injuries. That’s a devastating amount of loss. Fire insurance claims are often costly, yet complicated processes.

While not every fire leads to complete and total loss of a home, small fires still lead to costly repairs or replacements. In the aftermath of any fire, an insurance policyholder expects that their insurance company will work with them to recoup their losses. However, this is not always the case.

Insurance companies often make the process more difficult than it should be, as they don’t want to pay out for your losses. With the help of a fire insurance claims lawyer at Reich & Binstock, you can begin asserting your rights as a policyholder. If you believe your claim was wrongfully denied or if you are concerned about your claim, please give us a call at 713-622-7271 for a free consultation.

How To Deal With an Insurance Adjuster After a House Fire?

Nobody wants to deal with insurance adjusters after they suffer property damage. After a fire, things get even more complicated. However, it is possible to simplify the process and make your communications with the adjuster less stressful.

To help ease your fire insurance claims process, try the following:

  • File the claim as soon as you’re able. Complying with your policy is highly important, especially when it comes to filing your claims within the given timeframe. If you fail to do so, the company will hold that you forfeited your right to a claim.
  • Request advance payments. In some cases, this is a more necessary step. For example, maybe you fully evacuated your home and cannot safely return. Advance payments help cover basic necessities that you could not pack before evacuation.
  • Mitigate damages and secure property. Basically, insurance policies ask that you try to prevent further harm to your property.
  • Track your expenses. If your policy offers reimbursement, it is important to keep a careful record of expenses in the form of receipts and bills.
  • Don’t rush. Insurance companies sometimes insist that you close your claim quickly. We advise that you do not let them pressure you into accepting a lowball offer. Before making any moves, contact a fire insurance claims lawyer right away.

What Does Fire Insurance Cover?

This type of property coverage covers damages to property, as well as other losses that occur in the event of a fire. Generally, it covers repairs or replacements for damaged property within the home, as well as any necessary accommodations while your home is not usable. Additionally, it covers the loss of personal belongings, lodging, meals, and normal living expenses up to the limits of the policy. 

But what about what fire insurance does not cover? This is equally as important to understand as what it does cover. Most insurance policies exclude very specific types of damage, such as that caused by war, nuclear radiation, or other similar circumstances. Additionally, it does not cover deliberate fires to the home. Vacant homes also do not receive coverage if the home was vacant for at least 30 consecutive days prior to the fire. It is possible, however, to purchase vacant homeowners insurance. Depending on the state you live in, policies sometimes exclude coverage for other events, or even charge higher premiums. 

What To Do After a House Fire?

We understand that, after any kind of fire, you’re likely stressed and worried about what happens next. It’s important to prepare a plan in case of a fire.

Below, we list our recommendations for what to do after a house fire:

  • Find somewhere to stay. Especially after a bad fire, most people cannot stay in their homes afterward. First, try to find a family member or close friend to stay with. If this isn’t possible, then contact your local disaster relief agency for guidance. 
  • Contact your insurance agency and begin your claim. Try to do this as soon as possible after the fire, as many insurance policies have time limits on filing claims.
  • As much as possible, protect your home from further damage or unlawful entry.
  • If you have pets, take them for a checkup at the vet. Even if they seem fine at first, inhaling any amount of smoke can cause damage, and sometimes burns hide under the fur.
  • Ask for a copy of the fire report from the local fire department. In many cases, these are helpful for fire insurance claims.
  • Even if your home is completely destroyed, you are still responsible for mortgage payments. Address these finances and replace the credit or debit cards destroyed in the fire.
  • Recover possessions destroyed by the fire. Typically, insurance companies offer the value of your lost items in cash. Keep a home inventory to ensure that you receive full payment.
  • Contact a fire insurance claims lawyer. Coping with a disaster is hard enough. Let an attorney do all the heavy lifting while you and your family focus on your mental health and wellbeing.

What is a Dwelling Fire Insurance Policy?

These policies offer a wide range of coverage options, as well as flexibility. It is actually quite similar to a homeowners insurance policy. Protections often include explosions, vandalism, wind damage, lightning damage, and fires. However, unlike homeowners insurance policies, which cover everything except the listed exclusions, dwelling fire insurance only covers listed perils. 

Depending on your specific policy, these may or may not cover both the structure of the home as well as its contents. Additionally, policies usually either reimburse you for the cash value of your home in a claim or simply pay for the cost of replacement. Many people who have older homes with prior loss claims choose dwelling fire insurance policies, as well as those with secondary homes and/or rental properties.

How Does Homeowners Insurance Work After a Fire?

Most homeowners insurance policies cover fire damage and losses. Generally, it helps to pay for repairs or replacements of the home after a fire. Specifically, fires that are sudden or accidental receive coverage under these policies.

Examples include chimney fires, electrical fires, forest fires, wildfires, and accidental fires.

Those items which receive coverage are listed below:

  • The structure of your home
  • Your belongings within the home
  • Structures on the property
  • Relocation costs and expenses in the event that your home is unlivable

Immediately after the fire, you must file fire insurance claims with your insurance company. The sooner you do this, the better your reimbursement is likely to be. Generally, insurance policies have upward limits of coverage, meaning that it is possible to reach the maximum amount that your company will pay. 

Reasons Insurance Companies Deny Fire Claims

Insurance companies deny claims for a variety of reasons, which sometimes blindsides the policyholder. Having fire insurance claims denied is extremely frustrating, but sometimes the denials are legitimate. Below, we list some common reasons insurance companies deny fire claims:
  • Late or missing insurance premium payments
  • You reached or exceeded your coverage limits
  • Lack of documentation or evidence of your losses
  • Filing for losses not included in your policy coverage
  • Filing claims past the deadline outlined in your policy
Unfortunately, some insurance companies engage in bad faith insurance practices. If you have reason to suspect that your insurance company wrongfully denied your claim or grossly underpaid you, contact a bad faith insurance lawyer at Reich & Binstock. We help our clients appeal their claims and request further reviews of their claims which look for adjuster errors.

Houston Fire Insurance Claims Lawyer

While it is challenging for most homeowners to read insurance policies and decipher the legal jargon, an experienced lawyer can help. If you feel like your claim has been denied unfairly or that a portion of your property was not fully compensated by the insurer, talk with an attorney about investigating these claims further and filing suit if necessary. At Reich & Binstock, we handle all manner of insurance claims cases, and we look forward to working with you on your case. To schedule a free initial consultation, please call our Houston office at 713-622-7271 today.

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