A house fire is a devastating and traumatic event in anyone’s life. It not only damages or destroys the structure itself, but also the contents including precious mementos, pictures, clothing, and other valuable items.
It isn’t just fire damage either. Even areas where the fire may not have reached will have water damage from the efforts to extinguish and prevent further destruction.
All of this means you have much to recover from. If you have house fire insurance, it will cover such a loss.
However, insurance companies are sometimes reluctant to accept the claim. They will investigate to determine if the claim is valid or if they can reject it.
Read on for six reasons insurance companies deny fire claims.
- Work Being Done Without Correct Permits
Having a home improvement project or renovation is an exciting time. It provides a fresh look or stylish addition to your existing home.
You must be careful, though, to file all appropriate and legal permits. If a fire starts as a result of the work, and the company or individuals do not have the proper permits, your claim is in jeopardy.
- Common Reasons Insurance Companies Deny Fire Claims: Suspicion of Arson or Fraud
Unfortunately, there are times when someone is in a desperate situation and make a bad decision to try and fix it. Arson makes up 8% of all reported house fires.
There are a few key indicators to the insurance company that a homeowner may have reason to intentionally set a fire. One is if they are in extreme debt and on the verge of bankruptcy. Another is there have been previous claims also relating to fire and loss.
If a homeowner recently increased their coverage just before a fire, that is a red flag to the insurance company that a plan was in the works.
Not all of those reasons mean someone intentionally set a fire and is committing fraud. However, it might be more difficult to win approval for your claim if these conditions exist.
If you believe your fire claim was denied unfairly, the Shochet Law Group can help fight to get the insurance company to offer a reasonable settlement on your behalf.
- A Vacant Home
If the home has been vacant for more than 30 days, you may have a fire claim denied. The exception would be if it was empty because of renovations. However, again, they will want to see all legal permits.
An empty home is harder to accidentally catch on fire, so this is a little suspicious. The insurance company would look closely for arson or even vandalism as causes.
If a claim is approved, it may only cover the structure itself.
- Errors in the Claim Process
Filing an insurance claim for a house fire is a detailed process. There are many specifics required. There is also a deadline.
If there are any mistakes in the paperwork or the claim is filed past the deadline, the insurance company is not obligated to honor the claim.
- Not Enough Documentation
In addition to the correct and timely paperwork, evidence needs to be submitted. This includes not only the actual damage but also any claims related to living expenses if the house is uninhabitable.
If you lost revenue for a business operating out of the home, or if it was a rental property, those losses must be detailed.
Each claim must have the appropriate documentation to support the details of the claim. If something is missing or incomplete, it will delay or possibly set up a denial for your claim.
- A Problem With the Policy
Insurance companies write policies for specific amounts and coverages. The premiums must also be paid on time.
Being late on a payment or missing payments will give the insurance company reason to deny an expensive claim.
In addition, if there were not sufficient coverage or policy limits were not high enough you will have problems.
What to Do in Case of a House Fire
The steps taken right after the fire can go a long way in helping secure a valid claim.
File the claim right away. If you need emergency shelter and essentials request an advance on the claim.
You should then put together a complete list of all lost property. This will be a long list so take time to mentally go through each room including the garage. Don’t forget jewelry, computers, and other high-value items.
Take pictures and even videos. Part of the insurance adjuster’s job is to document the loss with pictures. However, just to protect yourself, it is good to have photos and videos taken by you.
Do your best to secure the home from additional damage by theft or vandalism as these additional losses will not be covered under the fire claim. Depending on the location and extent of the fire, the HVAC system will need to be inspected and cleaned. Add this to your claim.
Find your policy and read it thoroughly. Review all conditions and stipulations for filing a fire claim. Make sure to note the deadline. Also, keep good notes about all conversations with the insurance adjuster. Document dates, times, and topics. This could become useful information on a denied claim and you pursue legal action.
This may seem like a long list, but you need to do everything possible to ensure your claim is handled quickly and accepted. If there are any disputes, the next step is a fire insurance claim lawyer who will step in to fight for the coverage you have paid for.
Don’t Lose Everything
Fire is a devastating force. Don’t let the stress and confusion surrounding what to do put you at risk for a claim denial.
There are many reasons insurance companies deny fire claims, but you can work to make sure none of them get in the way of your compensation and recovery.
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