There are several steps to take when a natural disaster occurs. Specifically, in which your home takes the brunt of the damage.
In premise, regardless of whether your house burns down or gets flooded, the process is quite similar. Below we will cover everything you should do if you find yourself in either of these scenarios.
So, if you’re interested in mitigating the potential harm from a natural disaster, keep reading.
If Your House Burns Down, Do This
First and foremost, you need to breathe – but not inside the house. If your house burns down, it’s a tragedy. But if that’s the case, fire is your friend in terms of the insurance.
Insurance providers will rarely provide any issues when covering damages and personal contents in this case unless they prove arson. There’s not a homeowner’s policy in the US that does not cover fire damage.
Do not enter your home until an emergency specialist has deemed it to be safe. They will ensure that safety zones are established, and the fire is extinguished. Please note that if the property is severely damaged, you might not be able to enter at all.
Insurance companies love documentation. They will ask for proof of the most expensive and important valuables. The best thing to do is to have photos and hard copies of your inventory, as well as have them on the cloud.
If you do so, the adjustment process will be so seamless. And if you have many possessions, documentation is not a recommendation, but a necessity to get your insurance company to pay you. If you don’t, you get paid the average median.
You should also know who to call after the fire. You shouldn’t presume that the police or fire department will inform your insurance provider, nor will the insurance provider find out about the fire without you telling them – you have to call them. They will also help with emergency lodging and speak about living expenses, so keep track of all your expenses after the fire.
If you were a tenant, speak to the landlord and find out who has to call the insurance provider. Don’t forget to call your family members who weren’t with you, let them know you’re ok, and ask for help if you need it.
Additional Actions for Burned Down Homes
It’s recommended that you get a fire report from the fire department. This will consist of a description of your house’s state, the area of the house involved in the fire, the incident number, and time and date. It’s very valuable to have when attempting to prove factual to the insurance provider.
If your home isn’t burned to the ground, you have to secure it (per your insurance policy). This might sound odd, but if a looter gets into your property when it’s not secured and they get hurt, you are held liable.
Also, the damage can go far beyond what the eye can see, which is why you need a professional to assess and clean it all up. If the damage is in one room, you will never know if the heat triggered a chemical reaction and caused damage to other rooms. But don’t fix anything until the insurance claims process is completed.
If Your House Gets Flooded, Do This
If the house flood was severe enough to make you leave the home, ensure that it’s safe before returning. Check for visible structural damage, such as warping, cracks, and loose foundations. And ensure that your utility company deems it safe for you to enter as well.
Before you consider repairing anything, documents all of the damage with videos and photos. Use a measuring tape to document how much water is present, especially if you are considering ripping out the wallboards.
The water can be contaminated with chemicals and sewage. Ensure your health by using anti-bacterial soap whenever you leave your home, clean your clothes thoroughly, or throw them out. Disinfect your shoes if possible.
If it’s water from a plumbing discharge, the flood might be covered by renters or homeowners’ insurance. And if you have flood insurance claims for natural disasters, you should definitely get in touch with your provider. The sooner you contact them, the faster you will have an adjuster arrive.
If flooding is common, your area can be deemed a disaster region. This can provide you with additional resources from the government and other entities after the flood.
If your power is out, don’t open your freezer and refrigerator unless you are wearing a filtered mask. Foods quickly spoil and can lead to bacterial overgrowth, especially when submerged in water.
Additional Actions for Flooded Homes
Before you consider removing water, ask your insurer if it’s ok for you to do so. If it’s a covered occurrence, they will probably send a remediation company. If you want to be DIY, use a wet vac and sump pump.
To promote drying, open all exits and entrances. Close them when you leave for security. Open all kitchen doors, cabinets, closets, etc. and remove all drawers that are standing in water.
Mold can develop within a single day after a flood. If items have been wet for over 2 days, you might not be able to save it. Photograph all soaked items that you will be throwing away.
If you have papers, photos, and wet books, put them in bags and remove them from your home. If you can’t manage them in the first two days, put them in a freezer. This will prevent mold growth.
Now that you know what to do if your house burns down or gets flooded, you are well on your way to acquire the compensation you deserve. In any case, it’s always recommended that the first thing you do after getting safe is to call insurance. That’s because any changes can deplete your ability to receive money.
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