Documenting Fire and Storm Damage
If possible, document the internal and external damage ASAP. Talk with recovery officials regarding safety issues you should be aware of - safety first! - as well as key areas/items you should take pictures of.
Keep in mind you may need to be escorted by officials and you may have a short amount of time.
Insured? Don't do anything until you speak with your agent; it could affect settlements. And, ask about immediate protection you can take to secure your home.
WHN Staff Tip: Use Two Cameras
Use both video and still photography. Borrow a camera if yours was destroyed.
Start with one area/room and then move to another. If there are two or more people, assign rooms and hallways.
Take pictures of everything from multiple angles (just like what you see on CSI)
Take both wide shots and close-up shots of damaged or missing parts of the house, rooms, furnishings, and personal property.
For each photo and video, include a description of the item, its age, and the cost to buy it now at a current price.
Keep in mind that you want your photos to show the overall context of the damage so that you can make your case to a claims adjuster. If you have prior pictures that could serve as pre-disaster documentation, find them.
WHN Reader Tip: Lost Photos in the Storm of Fire?
Call family and friends and ask them for pictures they have taken at your house (holidays, birthdays, etc.). Rooms, outdoor shots, garage - all will be in the background and you can use them as a reference.
WHN Staff Tip: Home Inventory
Photos from others not readily available? Print out our WHN home inventory lists to help jog your memory.
WHN Staff Tip: Photo Support
Done any building or remodeling in your home? Contact the architects and remodeling companies you used for past pictures and blueprints of your home. Ask for any other documents that might help support your claim.
Remove any undamaged items to a safe area of the house. If large objects, like a sofa, are salvageable, cover them with a tarp.
Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damages are taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim.
WHN Expert Tip: Items for Discarding
Once you and your insurance agent have determined which damaged items you are throwing away, pick out a place for piling these discards. Make it easily accessible for removal by truck or consider renting a portable trash container. Do not throw away anything until you have filed a claim or spoken with your insurance company!
WHN Reader Tip: Make a Wedding Registry!
"My parents had a house fire that was such a complete loss - there was very little remaining from which to compile an inventory of contents. To help jog their memories, they went to Target and created a wedding registry, then they walked through the store and scanned the items they lost in the fire. Granted, the items they lost weren't exactly the same, but it gave them a printed list of like items to use to create their property claim. We all got a good chuckle about my 45-year-married parents having a 'new wedding date'." Jill A., MN
Start to think of cleaning that you will do or what you'd like a professionals to handle.
Securing Your Property
Reasonable expenses spent to protect property are part of the loss and generally reimbursed by insurance companies. Check with your agent to learn where your insurance money is coming from and how using money now affects money you may need later.
Arrange to have doors, windows and other areas secured against unauthorized entry. This also helps prevent further damage.
While examining your home for structural and general damage, take notes. Use sidewalk chalk or wax pencils to mark areas of damage such as dents in aluminum trims, damaged shingles, dented doors, etc.
Read How to Choose a Contractor or Restorer for tips on hiring a professional.
|After A DisasterSpotting and Documenting Storm DamageJust had a storm blow through your town? Here Stephen Hadhazi, a public insurance adjuster and publisher of DocuDamage.com, an educational consumer website, offers his top tips on how to spot and document storm damage.Securing a Damaged HomeHere's what to do to safeguard your home after a storm or disaster.Safely Reentering an Evacuated HomeBe safe, be smart. If you've been displaced, all you may be able to think about is getting back home. Wait!Replacing Valuable DocumentsHere is contact information for replacing documents and records that have been damaged, destroyed or lost.Rebuilding and Renovating a Damaged HomeAny form of construction can be a lengthy process. Here are some starter tips to get started. Moving Back Home After a DisasterWhile it's very difficult to do, think of this as an extremely extended camping trip as you cope over the next few weeks and months.How to Choose a Contractor or RestorerHiring a contractor or a restorer can be costly, but professionals may be the best way to remove water and mold and get the job done right. Plus, professional restorers can provide helpful hints to prevent further damage.Home Repair and Renovation Steps to FollowFollow these steps to make sure your post-disaster restoration or rebuilding project is done right the first time.Documenting Fire and Storm DamageIf possible, document the internal and external damage ASAP. Talk with recovery officials regarding safety issues you should be aware of - safety first! - as well as key areas/items you should take pictures of.Cleaning Your Home After a Fire or StormAfter your insurance company representative has assessed the damage, you need to make a decision regarding the cleaning of your home and possessions.Home Safety After a DisasterWhat to know about utility service after a disaster.|