What to do if your house is damaged by fire

Far be that fate from us!

-Ovid

What to do depends on how bad the fire is. It also depends on whether you have insurance and, if so, whether you have enough insurance.

What to do after a small house fire

No matter how small, make sure the police and the fire department are called and have responded. You need to document the fire. Then take pictures and videos of the fire-damaged property. Call your insurance company and report the fire. Make sure you get a date and time the insurance company is sending out an adjuster. Document all phone calls with the insurance company, and save all letters and emails. If you think someone is responsible for the fire, ask your insurance company whether they intend to subrogate.

What to do after a fire completely destroys your home

Police and fire should have arrived and made reports. If not, make sure they’re called. Take as many photos and videos you can. Call your insurance company immediately, report the claim, and ask whether you have additional living expenses a/k/a/ ALE or loss of use. If so, ask them to put you in a hotel and issue ALE payment so you can start buying food. Also, ask what restoration companies they intend to send out. And make sure they tell you in writing what the expected cost is, and that the cost of the restoration companies comes out of your policy limits (e.g. you’re paying for it).

Be careful what you tell the police, fire department, and your insurance company. Your statements may be used against you by your own insurance company.

Contact your mortgage company too. Let them know what happened, and ask for a grace period.

What to do after a house fire if there’s not enough insurance

You’re underinsured, which is common. Make sure you receive all of the money you are entitled to from your insurance company. If the loss is significant and your policy limited, your insurance company should issue you all of your money quickly.

At that point, you should investigate whether someone is a fault for the fire so you can try to recoup all uncompensated losses.

What to do after a house fire if there’s no insurance

The only thing left at this point is to investigate whether someone is a fault for the fire so you can try to recoup all losses. You may have a third party claim.

Questions? Contact Evan Walker today at (858) 324-6606 for a free consultation.

Evan Walker

Evan W. Walker is a La Jolla attorney who has practiced law since 2008. He has practiced law throughout California, Connecticut, and Louisiana.

Evan worked for and defended insurance companies during the first 7 years of his practice. Since 2015, he has represented people with personal injury and property damage claims and insurance disputes.

Evan’s practice is devoted to serious personal injury claims and catastrophic property damage claims. Areas of focus include security claims against bars and other businesses, government tort claims, fire and flood claims, and inverse condemnation. On behalf of clients, Evan has fought insurance firms, international companies, cities, bars, and casinos.

Evan regularly shares his expertise with other attorneys by teaching courses on insurance and inverse condemnation. He has taught several continuing legal education courses to Attorney Credits, a nationwide CLE company, and ProLawCLE, another nationwide CLE company. He also contributes to various podcasts and publications.

Associations:

  • Member, State Bar of California
  • Member, San Diego Bar Association
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of California
  • Member, Consumer Attorneys of San Diego
  • Member, La Jolla Bar Association
  • Member, La Jolla Village Merchants Association
  • Member, San Diego Chamber of Commerce