Experiencing a house fire is a frightening and traumatic experience for the whole family. At Strange Strange & Gardner, we know first-hand how hard this time can be. Therefore, we have created a step by step plan to help you take the first steps towards recovery.
Finding a place to stay.
Contact family members and let them know what happened and that you are ok. Organise a safe place to stay to allow your family to come to terms with what has happened. This will also allow you to plan your next step. If you are unable to stay with loved ones, your insurance company may be able to talk you through emergency lodging.
Contacting your insurer
It is essential to file your claim immediately to get the process rolling. If needed, you may be able to request an advance against your insurance pay-out for necessary living expenses, while your application is being processed. Alternatively, you could seek advice on Crisis Loans that are available through Social Services.
If you need to re-enter the property, make sure to ask the fire service, whether it is safe to do so. If the house is too severely damaged, you may not be allowed inside. If allowed back in, retrieve any undamaged valuable possessions from the property. To help with the claims process, and make sure everything is accounted for, organise a home inventory of your belongings. Where possible, this inventory should include the date of purchase, cost at purchase and description of each item—document all parts of your home that has been damaged, including fire damage to possessions.
As you will not be living in the property for the foreseeable, it is essential to protect the premises from both weather and unwanted entry – most insurance policies will require this. Board up holes in walls and ceilings and make sure doors and windows are secure. Call your local police station to let them know that your house will be temporarily vacant.
Other services to notify
Call all utility providers (electric, gas, water) and inform them of the fire. If there are children involved, contact their school to let their teachers know what happened. Also, notify your post office to put on hold or forward your post.
Insurance companies will often have approved restoration contractors that you can call for, structural drying, contents cleaning and structural cleaning and repair. The insurer can assist you with these cleanup options. If you do carry out the cleaning yourself, be aware of the health hazards associated with clearing debris and combustion products.
Taking care of your family’s mental health.
A fire incident can have long-lasting adverse effects on your family’s mental health. This is particularly true for children. If you or your family members are having difficulty coping, seek help from the NHS Crisis Care Services.
Even if you have not dealt with such loss personally, it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with your insurance policy and its coverage. This will allow you to understand ahead of time what will be taken care of if a loss occurs — and what your responsibilities are.