Fire losses are often the most devastating occurrences that can happen to a family or business. Just read this series After the Fire to learn about the lessons one homeowner learned about what to and not to do after a fire. And view this investigative report about getting the most out of your insurance claim after a fire. Fire damage requires important short-term decisions from individuals that are under a tremendous amount of stress and confusion. Unfortunately, our fire claim adjusters see many mistakes being made regarding how to handle a restoration company or what contracts to sign. These can have lasting consequences on what you recover from your fire insurance claim. The fire adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates will apply our years of practical and professional experience to your fire loss claim. We have the knowledge and expertise to help you negotiate the complicated process required by your insurance carrier to get your fire claim paid in a fair and honest manner.
Attorney or Public Adjuster
We see some policyholders get confused about whether they should hire an attorney or public adjuster to handle their fire claim. Both have a valuable advocacy role in the claims process. To get value from both we would suggest hiring a public adjuster on the front end to manage your fire claim. Only if you are denied or legal issues arise that the public adjuster cannot handle would we incur the extra expense and time to hire an attorney. Read what this expert says about role of each professional.
A fire loss includes damages caused by smoke, soot, heat, the water used to extinguish the fire and the fire itself. In the case of a severe fire, all of these components combine to make a residence or business uninhabitable and unusable. Our first objective in preparing your claim for submission to your insurance carrier is to evaluate the scope of loss and damage as well as to analyze your insurance policy to see how it applies to the specific situations of your loss.
It must be determined to what degree the structure is damaged and how badly your personal or business property is affected. Are these items and components repairable or are they a total loss? It makes no economic sense to spend limited resources on repairs to items which will only be replaced in the end. This is one area where disputes commonly occur between the insured and the policyholder. One of the most common and potentially costly mistakes we see policyholders make is to sign authorization forms from "disaster restoration" firms which give these firms authorization to remove or attempt to repair items that may in fact be a total loss. This cost will be subtracted from the policy limits that may be needed to pay for items that are clearly a total loss.
Be sure to take some time to consult with Tutwiler & Associates before signing blank authorization forms. Let the professional public adjusters at Tutwiler & Associates determine what experts such as structural engineers, appliance and electronics technicians, and cleaning and restoration specialists should be used in formulating a comprehensive plan to return your property to its pre-loss condition. These forms are also used to “spike the job” and may in fact give rise to liens on the property months later should the policyholder and carrier disagree on the claim. In Florida be aware of “notice to owner” filings as the contractor has started the process to protect his lien rights.
Smoke almost always accompanies a fire and the effects of the hydrochloric acid contained in a typical structure fire are very corrosive. Further, the heat of a fire pressurizes the smoke and drives it into areas of the building and affects contents which are surprisingly remote from the source of the fire. For example, this smoke can lessen the life of electronic and mechanical equipment. The scope of restoration as well as the affected content value and cost of restoration can determine whether or not your property will be properly returned to its pre-loss condition.
Once a Tutwiler & Associates public adjuster has made a preliminary evaluation of your loss, we can guide, assist and advise you as to the best way to proceed towards the resolution of your claim against the insurance company.