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Know What Your Fire Insurance Policy Covers Before You Dispute Your Claim

When your home insurance company sends you an offer on your fire insurance claim, you may be disappointed in the result. Often, the insurance company’s initial offer is a negotiating position. While they would be quite pleased if you accepted the number, often, the company expects a homeowner to fight for more, especially in a major or total loss.

It can be much easier to negotiate your fire insurance claim when you have a lawyer or a public adjuster on your side. Should you find yourself looking at a disappointing offer, you may want to call in someone who can help you in a professional capacity.

Before you start to negotiate your claim or elevate it into a dispute, you want to make sure you understand your insurance policy and know what is covered and what is not. This is a guide to the basics of your fire insurance policy. You will want to review your full insurance policy to check the details, policy limits, deductibles, and other information specific to your policy.

Structure

After a significant fire, coverage for structural damage may make up a substantial portion of your claim. It covers the cost of repairing or replacing structural elements, such as interior or exterior walls, flooring, roofs, the foundation, plumbing, electrical, fixtures, etc. In a total loss, it helps you rebuild the entire house.

Structural coverage usually includes other structures on the property, not just your home. Examples include:

  • Gazebos
  • Separated garages
  • Sheds
  • Fences
  • Docks
  • Driveways

If you are unsure about coverage for additional structures or outbuildings, review your detailed policy for more information.

Once you have received an offer from your insurer, you want to be confident it will be enough to rebuild your home. One way to check is to ask for quotes from local builders and compare them to the offer your insurer has provided.

Contents

This part of your insurance policy is responsible for lost personal belongings. Getting covered for these losses begins with the creation of a Schedule of Loss, where you must inventory everything that was lost or damaged in the fire.

Providing a complete and thorough Schedule of Loss is important. Once you sign off on a final version, you can no longer add items, even if you remember them and have proof of ownership.

The Contents part of your policy can be a source of conflict if you have different valuations for your lost belongings. You will also want to double-check the type of coverage you have, as Actual Cash Value coverage will likely provide you with fewer funds than Replacement Cost.

Additional Living Expenses

Additional Living Expenses cover certain costs you may face when you have to live elsewhere while repairs are made to your home. Even when your home is inhabitable, you often have to keep up with associated costs such as mortgage payments and property taxes.

This can put a strain on your finances if you have to rent a condo or apartment while repairs are made. Your ALE coverage provides some necessary relief for these types of expenses.

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