PROPERTY INSURANCE CLAIMS
A fire to your home or business can be a life altering event that can take months, and unfortunately, sometimes years to overcome. Dealing with an insurance company that denies, delays, or undervalues your claim is the last thing you want to think about at this time.
If you have experienced a fire at your home or business, you will need to deal with the insurance company shortly after the fire department leaves. Many times, this includes being interviewed by an insurance adjuster, giving a recorded statement, and creating an inventory of lost items. Insurance adjusters, however, are not there to help you get everything that you deserve. They are there to minimize your claim or find reasons why your claim should be denied. Let the experienced attorneys fire claims at Burnett Wilson Reeder assist you with your fire claim.
Here are some tips for preventing fires:
1) Replace your fire alarm batteries frequently. Don’t wait for the “chirp” that inevitably comes in the middle of the night to change your batteries. The rule of thumb is to change your batteries every time daylight savings comes or goes. As an added protection, carbon monoxide alarms can help save lives as well. Please consider purchasing one or more of these for your home.
2) Clean out your dryer at least once a year. The air vent to your dryer collects lint throughout the year. The intense heat from the dryer can cause this lint to catch fire. If you find that your dryer is not drying as quickly as it once was, that is likely a sign that it is time to clean out the vent.
3) Turn off the stove. This one sounds obvious, but houses catch fire every year from those who either forget to turn off the stove or intentionally leave it on (this is done more frequently in northern states for warmth).
4) Unplug your Christmas tree. Lights are nice during the holidays, but if that tree falls over when you aren’t home, it could mean disaster.
5) Don’t overload your outlets. Having 5-10 plugs in one outlet without a surge protector is bad news.
During a fire:
1) Remember, life is more important than possessions. If you find yourself in a fire, get you and your loved ones out of the house. Find windows, doors, or any other openings to get out. Fire can spread incredibly quickly and the smoke can begin to suffocate you in seconds. Stay low to the ground, get to an exit, and wait for help.
After the fire:
1) If your home has had a fire, be very careful when walking through the property. Not only is it possible that there could be embers still burning, but there could also be broken glass or other perils. If possible, gather up whatever belongings you can. Make sure that you have the go ahead from the fire department and/or the police to do so, of course. If the police or fire department are investigating the scene, you may not be allowed to access the area for a period of time or remove items.
2) Take photographs of damage if possible, even if with a smartphone. Try to be as detailed as possible.
3) Contact your insurance company as soon as feasible after a fire. Remember, almost all policies require prompt reporting and cooperation, so you will likely have to give a statement to the insurance company. If you are too “shaken up” to speak, simply report the basics of the fire and inform the insurance company that you will speak more fully to them once you have composed yourself. This could take days and there is nothing wrong with that. There is no set time limit for when you must provide a statement to an insurance company.
4) Contact Burnett Wilson Reeder. We will help you through the claims process and, if necessary, all the way through litigation. Obviously, we will do what we can to resolve your case without litigation, but sometimes, that is simply not possible.
The experienced Tampa, Florida trial attorneys at Burnett Wilson Reeder are accustomed to fighting insurance companies on behalf of homeowners who have recently dealt with a fire claim. Our trial attorneys are available to meet with you in person to discuss your case, free of charge.