House fire -- need info on ins., etc

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by countrygrrrl, May 30, 2004.

  1. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    A house I co-own caught on fire yesterday. It was an electrical fire -- the fire department thinks either the house was struck by lightening or the storms that were going through somehow whomped the electricity, causing it to short out in the attic -- we should have a report in a day or so. There is extensive smoke damage and damage in the attic from fire, some holes knocked into walls and ceilings by the firemen (there were five trucks and ??? firemen plowing around), but no water damage (amazingly enough) and what damage there is is repairable.

    We've contacted the insurance company and we know we'll have to get one of those crews in which fixes smoke and fire damage. Beyond that, however, we just don't know.

    Has anyone else here been through a house fire? What should we expect? Anything we absolutely need to do or watch out for?

    :confused: :confused: TIA
     
  2. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    .................I'm no expert on Home ins. but I would want to findout if my policy has a provision for "replacement cost " to cover the cost of materials and labor. Decking which is an exterior grade plywood that is installed on most roofs prior to the Asphault shingles being installed has almost doubled in price. And , most building materials are significantly higher because of the increase in fuel costs...........fordy... :eek: :)
     

  3. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I'm no insurance expert, but i know the house is insured for replacement value in the case of total loss, and that they just upped its valuation $30,000 :eek: for the purposes of rebuilding. Is that the same thing?

    I already know this will wipe out a fair amount of my set aside cash (thankfully, I've had the good sense to have a set-aside fund) and we've already decided to sell as soon as it's fixed. I just don't want to lose everything as a result of this. :no:
     
  4. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    I lost a home due to a fire on Christmas eve 1986. Depends on your policy. Mine was owner occupied and I had replacement coverage on the home and contents. I found the adjustor to be a huge help. The adjustors helped me remember things that I would have forgotten. They helped me tremendously. I still cannot believe just how much they did. They reimbursed me for living expenses even though I spent a few weeks with my mother. They paid for everything in the house, plus the house at rates that I found more than fair. It's a very trying time. In the long run my experience wasn't as bad as it could have been. I wish you luck and I do feel for you.
     
  5. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ...................Your ins. will have 2 facets in terms of coverage. The provisions that will cover the Structure, and the Contents Coverage. Structure will be fairly strait forward. Contents and the amout that you will actually be paid will depend upon your documentation and fair market value at the time of the fire. And, your adjuster can walk you thru all the details of your policy. I wouldn't worry to much if your insured with a major carrier. Hope everything turns out OK. ....ALSO, you will NEED to keep all your paperwork so that your Tax Return Preparer can investigate the Possibility of a Casualty Loss on your '04 tax return. ..................fordy... :eek: :)
     
  6. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Okay, actually, you all have made me feel much better. I'm very wary of insurance companies and I just assumed we'd have a nightmare of a time dealing with them. The contents of the house really aren't a problem --- it's my dad's old house and most of the stuff is pretty ancient :no: --- it's the structural and repair stuff that scared me. But it sounds like they can be reasonable and fair. Whew.

     
  7. DAVID In Wisconsin

    DAVID In Wisconsin Well-Known Member

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    Countrygrrrl,
    Try not to worry. Chances are the insurance company is out to help you and settle the claim as fast as possible and make your life easier. I was a general contractor. I did lots of insurance claims. Never have I seen an insurance company be less than fair with an insured. Now, many, many times I had homeownwers try to screw the insurance companies. I lost a few jobs because I wouldn't inflate an estimate so someone could make a fortune.
    You mentioned you had replacement coverage. You should be in good shape.
     
  8. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    :D Whew.
     
  9. bethlaf

    bethlaf Homegrown Family

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    actually, wood has been going higher since the war in iraq, and the us gov rebuilding efforts, the higher gas has just complicated an already high price
    2 years ago , a sheet of 1/2 osb ( standard for roof decking ) was about 10-12.00 a sheet, latelt its morel ike 20-24, per sheet ....


    you will need your adjuster to come out and look at the amages, if possible, try to be there when the adjuster comes, ask them who they reccomend to do the repairs, , ( we work with insurance companies regularly, and are familiar with thier requirements, you want a company that will work for you, and work for what the ins co . is willing to pay, ask the adjuster who they reccomend, ), remeber youre not obligated in most cases to use the insurance companys guys, but sometimes it s a good idea, avoid anyone mentioned in the same sentance as "rother in law, cousin ,friend, etc :) , this is just common sense
    im sorry for your loss, and i hope it can all get on the up and up for you soon !
    God Bless!!
    Beth
     
  10. cchapman84

    cchapman84 Well-Known Member

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    As long as your house is insured to replacement value and you have replacement cost coverage, you should be all set. I'm an insurance agent in VT, and I see a lot of homes that have been undervalued. Generally people say, "Well, I only paid $70,000 for the house, so I'm not worried about having any more insurance than that." That's fine if you have a total loss. The problem is with a partial loss. If you have $70,000 of coverage on your home and they determine after a loss that the home is actually worth $100,000, you're going to be paying a lot of the loss out of your own pocket. Most insurance companies require you to carry an equivalent to 80% of your home's value. Most of the better companies require you to carry 100% to get the best rates. When you have a partial loss and you don't have enough coverage on your home, they deduct a percentage based on the difference in value. Even if your loss is less than the total coverage amount you have on your home.

    Another tip, make sure you start repairing the damage within six months. If you wait longer you'll be paid on an actual cash value basis, and only after the repairs are made will you get reimbursed (which could amount to $10,000 or more out of pocket expense).

    Just a few pointers, but it sounds like you're in good shape.
     
  11. Tango

    Tango Well-Known Member

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    We had a house fire about 10 years ago. The house was covered by Allstate for replacement value in contents, etc. We were very satisfied with the insurance coverage. One thing we learned is that replacement value means just that. If we chose not to replace an item it was not covered as a loss. Also check references for any contractor you choose to do the restoration work. We were very disappointed in the time it took our contractor to rebuild- many days, there was no work done at all and they were very messy. We chose to supervise a lot of the work because we didn't trust them at their word after a while. Accept the clothing as a loss; don't ask for dry cleaning. The smoke and heat will damage cloth colors and the smell will not totally go away. Accept the washer, dryer, dishwasher, and refrigerator at a loss. Our fire greatly reduced the life expectancy of all electrical appliances after they were restored and the washer ruined clothing thereafter. The roof, if it is shingle roof over plywood and tar paper, will have expanded and you will have leaks. Demand the clothing (including towels, linens, etc.) appliances, and roof be replaced. We lost many precious photos and some were further damaged by restoration efforts (hence check references). In all it was -financially speaking- a break even thing. We lost and we gained. Our insurance paid for an apartment while the house was being restored. We have no complaints about Allstate. We were given options to get cash advances several times in case we needed anything. They were prompt in paying our claims which went on for a year exactly. It was the restoration stuff that one needs to look out for. Some things can be made to look like new but will never work like they did before a fire and cloth toasts. Sorry abou tthe fir cg. I hope the claims go smoothly for you.
     
  12. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    Thanks everyone. :) I really think it's going to be okay.

    Besides, it could have been much, much worse. Everyone was asleep in the house and turns out it's only because the smoke alarms went off that someone woke up --- they found the house already filled with smoke and, by the time the firemen arrived, it was apparently ready to explode into flames :no: . The fire had been smoldering for a very, very, very long time. I would have lost about half my family, had that happened.

    In fact, if it hadn't been for smoke alarms, they likely would be dead and the house completely gone.

    So, very close call --- we're actually very, very, very, very lucky. And I really do think now we're going to make it through all the insurance and rebuilding and everything else just fine. :)
     
  13. I am a licensed insurance broker, specializing in homeowners policies. With 90% of the homeowners insurers out there, everything's going to be all right. The vast majority of loss adjustors, even among my competitors, are focused on fairly assessing what you have lost and getting you back on your feet as quickly as possible. If the loss is legitimately covered by the policy and there is no sign of fraud, they are trying to help you - not pinch pennies for the company.

    First of all, make sure to prevent further loss. If there are holes in the roof, patch them up with tarps or something. If windows are broken, board them up. There is a myth that homeowners are not supposed to interfere with 'the scene' until an adjuster can come inspect it. That is not true! Many wind and fire losses end up being more expensive because of ensuing water damage from improperly secured homes.

    Your biggest hassle is going to be paperwork. Especially if you, like most homesteaders, intend to do some or all of the repairs yourself. I made that decision after a tree fell on my roof last summer. Understandably, an insurance company wants to keep a much tighter leash on money for repairs that you do yourself. The increase in time and hassle on paperwork was more difficult than the actual repairs in my case.

    Most insurers will help you find a contractor capable of dealing with the type of damage you've suffered. Call your loss adjustor and he or she should be able to get you in touch with someone locally.

    You've got months of minor annoyances to contend with. Decisions to make about replacement flooring, drywall, insulation, etc. and whether to invest a bit of your own money to take the opportunity to make further improvements. But in the end your house will look better than the day before the fire and will probably be worth slightly more as well.