When you purchase a homeowner’s insurance, the last thing on your mind is filing a fire claim. Nonetheless, when the unexpected happens, it happens. You cannot wipe it away. Take comfort in the realization that your insurance will help you wade through the mess created by the fire.
Many people come to us, including clients, wondering why their fire damage claim takes so long to be approved by the insurance company. So we thought it best to talk to you in detail about the fire investigation, which is time-consuming and causes delays in the claim settlement process.
What Happens In Fire Investigations?
Fire investigation is a complicated process. It does not simply begin with the investigator reaching the site and talking to the owners. In fact, there is a full sequence of steps involved which they must adhere to.
1. First, the investigator has to ensure the safety of the premises as the investigation can start only once the site is deemed safe to enter.
2. The next step is the actual investigation. It is a tricky process. The investigator will:
3. Thoroughly examine the scene to determine the origin and cause of the fire.
4. Figure out the reasons why the fire spread.
5. Take into account the mitigating steps undertaken by the homeowner.
6. Assess whether the fire was an accident or there was malicious intent involved.
7. The third step is documenting the complete evidence and putting it all down in the report.
8. Finally, the report with complete findings and expert comments is submitted to the insurance company.
How Long Do Fire Investigations Take?
Fire investigations can take a few days to a few months depending on:
1. the size of the fire.
2. Whether there was any loss of life.
3. Damage to property.
4. The number of witnesses on the scene.
5. Any hint of suspicious activity.
The higher the damage, the more time it will take for the investigation to wrap up. Critical is to remember; the investigation will still follow the same steps as mentioned above. It will only take more time because there is a lot more evidence to sift through. Once the investigator’s report is submitted, things will move faster.
Most fire claims that are correctly filed and handled are usually settled anywhere between 90 to 120 days. Those claimants who have no prior knowledge of filing a fire claim are likely to make mistakes. In their case, the complete settlement process may take even longer.
What Happens When There Is Suspicion Of Fraud?
If the fire investigator gets even a hint of fraud and evidence to support their theory, your claim will be outright rejected by the insurance company. Covering up your mistakes is a wrong move. Do keep in mind, insurance only covers accidental losses, and accidents can happen with anyone. Hence, instead of hiding facts, help the investigator uncover them quickly and efficiently.
How Can I Help Expedite Fire Investigations?
As a homeowner and claimant, you can help move the investigation of the claim faster. For that, here’s what you need to do:
1. Inform the insurance company immediately of the occurrence and find out how you need to proceed. Don’t delay informing the insurer. This lack of communication could very well play a critical role in the acceptance and rejection of the claim.
2. Take pictures and make videos of the complete damage including that caused by smoke and soot. When you are doing this activity, do not move anything from its original place. It will help investigators rebuild the scene much faster.
3. Make a note of all that happened that led to the fire and the steps you undertook to put it off and prevent it from spreading. This step is necessary to prove that you tried your best to keep the damage minimal.
4. If you are filing a fire claim for the first time, hire a public adjuster to help you do things correctly the very first time. Making mistakes, correcting them, and refiling the claim will only add to the claim settlement time.
5. Write down the contact details of the witnesses. When fire damage happens, and others see it, you should take down their contact details. These could be your neighbors, passers-by, or those who helped you contain the fire. It will save the investigators time in tracking them down. These are also the people who can also help make your claim stronger.
What To Do If The Insurance Company Denies The Fire Claim?
If you have adhered to all the insurance contract terms, the insurance company should not deny your claim. But it still does happen because the claim was not filed correctly or it was not filed timely etc. If your claim is denied, you always have the option to contest it in a court of law.
There is no fixed answer to how long it takes to complete the fire investigation. It all depends on how well you documented the loss and the findings of the investigator. Nevertheless, the rule of thumb is that the more significant loss, the more time it will take, and vice-versa.
If you want to ensure that your fire claim is not denied, it would be best to involve a public adjuster. Since they handle such claims day in and day out, they know all the grounds on which the insurance company may reject yours. Working with a public adjuster gives you a good shot at getting the maximum possible settlement. They do all the leg work in filing the claim and ensure that you get the best outcome in return.
If you’ve had a fire recently and are wondering how to get a quick settlement, Continental Public Adjusters can help you. We are a reputed company with offices throughout Florida and excel in fire, wind, and plumbing claims. Allow us to assist you in your arduous claim settlement journey. We can make the complete process smooth and hassle-free. To book an appointment, give us a jingle at (800) 989 – 4769.