Filing a Fire Damage Claim
One of the most traumatic losses a homeowner can experience is the damage to or loss of your home as a result of fire damage. Not only does the fire itself cause damage, but the necessary steps to extinguish the fire can cause additional damage to your home or business even while they prevent the fire from totally destroying the home. The results can be both brutal and discouraging, and the property insurance claims process can seem daunting in the face of those losses.
If you experience a fire in your home or business, make sure you call Five Star Claims Adjusting as soon as you can so we can send an expert Public Adjuster to assess the damage to your property. Our licensed adjusters will make sure all the fire damage is noted so you get the best possible results for your property insurance claim. Our inspections are comprehensive and thorough, and our adjusters are happy to take time to answer questions you may have about your policy. Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our licensed public adjusters.
As we head into the dry season here in Florida, take a few minutes to brush up on fire prevention tips and be sure you replace the batteries in your smoke detectors.
Top Ten Fire Prevention Tips
In the state of Florida, about 1 in 360 homes filed a claim for fire or lightning damage. 81 fire-related fatalities were reported to the media last year in Florida alone. Many fire causes are preventable. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of fire in your home.
1. Never leave cooking unattended. About 50% of fires begin with cooking left unattended, especially oil or fryers. Use timers to remind you to check food.
2. Before you leave the house, make a quick sweep to be sure all heating elements (burners, oven, curling iron, etc) are off and/or unplugged.
3. Keep matches, lighters, and candles locked safely out of reach. Use only child-proof lighters and consider switching to flameless candles especially if you have pets or small children in the house who can knock them over.
4. Don’t overload power outlets or use power cords with frayed or exposed wiring. Electrical problems are another leading cause of fires in homes and businesses.
5. Pay attention to the wattage recommended for your lamps and overhead lights. “Overlamping”, or using a bulb with a higher wattage than the manufacturer recommends is another common cause of fires.
6. Keep kitchen appliances like the microwave, oven, toaster or toaster oven clean and free of grease and debris. Be sure you only use containers as directed to heat or reheat food.
7. If you have pets, use stove knob covers or remove knobs before you leave your home. It may sound hard to believe, but unsecured stove knobs can make it possible for pets to turn on the stove and cause a fire, especially if items were left on the stove top. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that about 500 fires each year are accidentally started by pets.
8. Avoid using space heaters whenever possible as they’re the second leading cause of home fires. If you need to use them, be sure to carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions and keep all areas around the heater free of flammable objects. Check the heater regularly for any signs of wear or problems.
9. Keep electrical wires and outlets clean and free of dust buildup. When debris like dust accumulates around an outlet or exposed wire, it can cause a fire.
10. Keep bedroom doors closed while you’re sleeping. This helps slow the spread of a fire as well as smoke, which can help save your life and the lives of your loved ones.
Does Your Policy Have Enough Coverage for Fire Damage?
When you sign up or renew your homeowner’s insurance policy, do you feel like you have time to ask important questions? Sometimes new policies have different rules than the old ones, and the legal terms can sometimes seem confusing. Calling your insurance company to ask questions is a great place to start if you realize you need more information.
Having a third party evaluate your insurance coverage is another great way to find out whether the coverage you have makes sense for you and whether it leaves you vulnerable to situations you may not have considered. At Five Star Claims Adjusting, our highly trained public adjusters will make an appointment with you to review your policy and provide a free home inspection so you can assess all your options with the help of an expert. Call us today to schedule an appointment with a licensed public adjuster. We’re on your side, and we always work for you, not your insurance company.
Five Facts About Smoke Detectors
1. The NFPA estimates that 3 out of 5 home deaths occur in homes with no smoke detectors or where smoke detectors were not working.
2. Replace batteries in your smoke detectors every year. Pick a time—some suggest fire prevention week, the second week in October, or Daylight Savings Time—and be consistent. Change the batteries every year. Set a reminder in your calendar to help prompt you to do it.
3. Smoke detectors expire after ten years. How old are yours? If you’ve had them more than ten years, it’s time to get some new ones.
4. You should have one smoke alarm installed in each bedroom, outside each sleeping area, and on each level of your home.
5. Test your smoke detectors monthly using the test button. Make sure your family members know what the detectors sound like and what to do if they hear them. Having a detailed family escape plan will help keep your family safe in the event of a fire.
Create Your Fire Escape Plan
Does your family have a fire escape plan? A home fire can be one of the scariest situations for a child. Taking some precautionary steps helps give them confidence that if a fire does occur, they’ll know what to do and how to be safe. Here are some tips to help you create a fire escape plan that’s right for your family.
1. Make sure each family member knows what the smoke detector sounds like and what to do when they hear it.
2. Assign a meeting place outside, away from the house, where it will be safe for your family to meet in case of a fire.
3. Be sure each person knows two exits from every room in your house.
4. Go over fire safety tips like how to crawl through a smoky room or how to “Stop, Drop, and Roll” if their clothes catch fire.
5. Teach “get out and stay out”—emphasizing to each person that once you’re out of the house, you do not return, even if other family members, pets, or favorite items remain inside.
6. Practice your family safety plan twice a year. If you change your smoke detector batteries on Daylight Savings time weekend, make that one of the practices. You can set the other practice for the weekend when Daylight Savings Time ends to help you remember to do it.
What to Do After a Fire Damages Your Home
If you experience a fire in your home or property, the first thing you need to do, of course, is call 9-1-1. Once the fire has been extinguished, wait until authorities say it’s safe before you attempt to return to your home. It’s okay to move undamaged items, but try not to disturb the damaged areas as much as possible until an insurance adjuster has a chance to assess the damage.
Facing catastrophic damage to your home or property is never easy, but you don’t have to face it alone. At Five Star Claims Adjusting, we understand you may be feeling overwhelmed and at a loss for how to move forward. We can help you figure out the steps toward recovery. Our licensed public adjusters will visit you at a time convenient to your schedule and will file an insurance claim on your behalf. There are no up-front fees, and no cost for the property inspection or any advice our highly trained public adjusters can offer you. Call today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert public adjusters.