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Returning to your home
The American Red Cross has prepared this information to encourage you take precautions to help keep you safe and speed your recovery after a fire. It also offers ideas on what you can do to help make yourself and your home safer from fires in the future.
Preparing for Insurance Claims
If you are one of those incredibly organized people, always prepared for worst case scenario, you might already have an inventory of your household possessions and accompanying photos, which will make preparing your insurance claim much easier. HOWEVER, if you’re like me, preparation of this type wasn't a priority, and now it's too late. A friend who lost her home in the Oakland fires provided me with some tips from her insurance claim experience. Every situation is different, but in general you’ll need to provide as much detail as possible to maximize your payout. Here's what she had to say:
Even if you have no idea what the status/state of your home is right now, if you were evacuated, open a claim with your insurance company. Best to get a jump start on the process, just in case. If you find you don't need it, you can easily close it.
1) Compile as many of your own photos as you can. Photos of exterior as well as interior. Photos of your furnishings, electronics, appliances, ‘big-ticket’ items. Think about all of the times you’ve entertained or holiday celebrations, and then reach out to friends and relatives to ask them for any photos they might have.
2) Begin to itemizing your personal possessions and household contents. Go room by room. Your photos will help. Most insurance companies have special forms that you have to fill out, but you can get started with a rough list/spreadsheet of your own.
Not only do you have to detail all your possessions, you have to estimate when they were purchased and how much you paid.Your insurer will use this information to try and factor in wear and tear which lowers the amount they pay you, so be specific.Yes, it’s time consuming to have to establish replacement value but super important.
3) Check to see you if have “code upgrades” as part of your insurance. If you own and older home and it’s not been recently re-modeled, there will be lots more requirements for rebuilding (e.g. plumbing, foundation, earthquake, etc.) code upgrades can help you pay for those.
This is clearly a painfully tedious and time-consuming task, however, it’s very necessary to maximize your payout and fully restore your household. Besides, it might be a more constructive way to keep busy (and hopefully distracted) while the fires are still active. Best of luck to you all. Kind regards, Deanna Furlong