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What You Need To Know About Your Home Fire Insurance Coverage
Article 3 of 9 in Home Insurance and Disasters
Home fire damage can be devestating. Even more devastating is finding out that the home fire insurance section of your home owners policy does not adequately cover your losses. Whether it's a minor kitchen fire or a major home fire damaging or destroying your entire home, you want to make sure that you have enough home fire insurance coverage to repair or replace destroyed property. Your home policy includes homeowners fire insurance, however, you need to make sure you purchase enough home insurance to protect your property.
Home Fire Insurance Coverage
The most important thing to do is make sure your home fire insurance coverage limits can cover you in the event of a total loss. Follow a few simple tips:
- Get the right home fire insurance package for your needs: You really need to review your home fire insurance coverage closely and press your insurance agent for answers if you don't understand something or don't feel the coverage is right for you. Always keep in mind that your relationship with your insurance company, and their agent, is only about business, and insurance companies will always put financial interests over your needs. If the agent is pushing some coverage, look into it and make sure it is right for you before you make any purchasing decisions.
- Know the value of your home and possessions: Make sure you know how big your home is and how much it is worth, and update this figure every year. You should also keep accurate track of all of your possessions so you can be sure they are protected. You should take some time to video tape your home and the contents inside it to make sure everything is clearly documented and accounted for. Know what your home and contents are worth, and make sure that you get enough home fire insurance coverage.
- Purchase Replacement Cost instead of Actual Cash Value: A replacement cost policy will replace your damaged home in full while ACV policies factor depreciation into account. If your home has depreciated $100,000, you will not get enough money from your insurance company to rebuild your home as it was prior to the disaster.
- Ask your agent about guaranteed replacement cost for your home structure. This will not only pay for the replacement of your home, but will ensure its replacement even if it surpasses the overall coverage limits. You must insure 100% of the home, but it may be worth it to protect yourself from total loss.
- Make sure your disaster living expenses are accounted for: Your policy should pay for you to stay in a hotel or apartment (for prolong stays) if the fire has left your home uninhabitable. It is not unheard of for homeowners to be displaced from their home for six months to a year. This coverage does have a limit, typically 20% of the overall coverage. This means a house that has a replacement cost value of $250,000 would have additional living expense coverage of $50,000.
As you go through the process of purchasing home fire insurance coverage, make sure you keep yourself informed. Click here to ask an experienced insurance professional for help on any specific issue you may have.
Fire Insurance Claims
Going through a homeowners insurance claim after a fire is no fun, but there are some tips you can follow to make sure the fire insurance claims process goes well:
- Be patient! Your insurance company may take a long time to process your fire insurance claim. Do not rush into any settlement or agreement just because you want the process to be over. Make sure you get the right amount of money to cover the fire damage.
- Make the insurance company does its job: Read your home fire insurance coverage section to find out what the insurance company is responsible for in the aftermath of a fire and hold them to it. After a fire, your insurance company will more than likely provide you with a list of professional cleaning companies to clean and deodorize your home and will arrange for you to get an estimate.
- Notify your insurance carrier of the fire: You must provide immediate notice of the fire damage to your insurance company and closely follow any subsequent deadlines as the process moves forward.
- Make sure your claim is filed properly: Get a claim number, a contact name and a phone number for your insurance claims adjuster.
- Be firm: If you feel like you are owed for losses that you can prove occurred, do not accept short payment from the company. You can always dispute an insurance settlement if you can prove you are owed more damages.
- Be Honest: Do not lie on a fire insurance claim. Not only will your claim be denied, but you can face legal consequences.
Filing a fire insurance claim is just like any other home insurance claim, but the damage caused may be more significant so it is extremely important that you follow the process closely.
Home Fire Damage Prevention
Ask anyone that has had a fire and they will tell you, even though they had insurance, it didn't replace the sentimental items and photographs that will be lost forever. For this reason, the best insurance is prevention. Make sure you follow these tips to prevent the hassle of losing value items that can never be replaced:
- Maintain fire extinguishers on every floor of your home.
- If you have wired smoke alarms, have your system monitored for quicker response from a fire department.
- Never leave a stove unattended or leave an open fire unattended.
- Maintain all battery operated smoke alarms. Make sure that you change the batteries. The daylight saving time change is always a good reminder to check/change the batteries in your smoke alarm.
- Use flame retardant oven mitts and potholders around your stove.
- Never use water to put out a grease fire. Keep flour or a mini fire extinguisher by the stove.
- Dress children in fire retardant pajamas at night.
- Above all, practice a safe escape route with your family and establish a meeting place outside your home in the event of a fire. Your life is the most important thing you own!
When you are ready to purchase home insurance, make sure the coverage protects you from fire damage to your home. Click here to get a free home insurance quote today!