Understanding the expectations of your insurance company, and your potential obligations during a fire damage claim, can help you avoid some potential pitfalls in the process. If this is your first time experiencing fire damage, we want to help you better understand what to expect and how to achieve a positive outcome throughout the insurance claims process. When fire damages your home or business in Puyallup, you likely will feel a sense of losing control of your environment. At Advanced Restoration Environmental Services (ARES) we are committed to Giving You Back Your Home by empowering you to regain your sense of control during this harrowing life event. Use these ARES tips to help you better respond to fire damage in your home or business.
Fire damage inspections by the fire department
When the Puyallup and/or Pierce County fire department responds, they may have a specialist perform an inspection to determine if there is any suspected criminal activity related to the fire. The fire damage investigator will inspect to the degree necessary to make their determinations regarding the source of the fire and whether the event was accidental or intentional. According to the Scappoose Fire District, duties of the fire investigator include (but are not limited to):
Determine the cause of the fire. Much like a coroner determines the cause of death for people, he or she determines what started a fire.
Locate the origin of a fire and determine whether the fire was accidental or intentional by examining the scene.
If after locating the origin of a fire, a fire investigator suspects arson, his job is to look for any evidence that can be used to determine suspects and build a solid case for law enforcement.
When a fire is ruled accidental, no criminal charges are filed, and the investigator provides a written report to the property owner, which he or she in turn can provide to the insurance company.
Typically after the fire investigator and/or fire marshal will review the scene, if they find no clear evidence of foul play, they will release the property from further investigation. The fire department may “clear” the scene based upon their review of the details of the scene but you will want to confirm with your insurance company whether they are sending out a third-party fire investigator to determine if there are any grounds for subrogation.
Fire damage inspections by the insurance company
A specialized inspection, by a third party investigator, will dig further into the details to determine if there are any apparent malfunctions of systems or fixtures that may have contributed to the fire event in your Puyallup residence. While you will be eager to return your home to a sense of normalcy, be sure that you don’t interrupt this important process. Most qualified restoration contractors who specialize in insurance claims response and repairs will be knowledgeable and cautious with protecting the source area prior to this critical process being completed.
Your policy likely has language in it describing your responsibility to assist in the subrogation process. That may look something like Merlin Law Group outlines in an article where the policyholder failed to do so, where the agreed policy read, “If any person or organization to or for whom we may make payment under this Coverage Part has rights to recover damages from another, those rights are transferred to the extent of our payment. That person or organization must do everything necessary to secure our rights and must do nothing after the loss to impair them.” Failing to preserve the scene or protect evidence could result in some difficulties in the course of your fire damage insurance claim.
Recommendations after a fire damage to your home:
Be aware of the source area and potential evidence that could aid in a subrogation investigation, do not allow anyone to destroy or alter evidence that could lead to a claim denial.
The best practice is to get prior approval from an insurer before those activities to avoid this situation.
You can get a better sense of how a restoration contractor should respond by reading this article on the Format for Successful Fire Damage Restoration Estimates written by our own Jon Isaacson.
Fire damage inspections and subrogation
You are likely asking, “What is subrogation?” According to the Alliance of Marketing and Insurance Services, “Subrogation occurs in property/casualty insurance when a company pays one of its insured’s for damages, then makes its own claim against others who may have caused the loss, insured the loss, or contributed to it.” In lay terms, if your insurance company determines that something and/or someone else can be held liable for the damages, they likely will pursue recovering some, or all, of their expenses from that party.
Fire damage repairs in Puyallup
Our team at Advanced Restoration Environmental Services (ARES) takes pride in being a part of our local community and enjoys the opportunity to serve our clients around the Puyallup area. Water and fire damage leaves home and business owners with the feeling of losing control of their environment.
Insurance Claims Experts. ARES specializes in helping you navigate the nuanced process of insurance claims repairs.
FREE In Home Consultations. Our ARES team looks forward to meeting with you to discuss the unique needs of your restoration project.
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Licensed & Insured. Our ARES team stands behind the quality of our work as we work to Give You Back Your Home.