THE FIRST 24 HOURS
Securing Yourself and The Site
Contact your local disaster relief service, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army, to help with your immediate needs, such as:
•other essential items.
Contact your insurance agent/company.
Do not enter the damaged site. Fires can rekindle from hidden, smoldering remains.
Normally, the fire department will see that utilities (water, electricity and natural gas) either are safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site. Do not attempt to turn on utilities yourself.
Be watchful for structural damage caused by the fire. Roofs and floors may be damaged and subject to collapse.
Food, beverages, and medicine exposed to heat, smoke, soot, and water should not be consumed.
Leaving Your Home
Contact your local police department to let them know that the site will be unoccupied.
In some cases it may be necessary to board up openings to discourage trespassers.
Beginning immediately, save receipts for any money you spend. These receipts are important in showing the insurance company what money you have spent related to your fire loss, and also for verifying losses claimed on your income tax.AFTER THE FIRE – RETURNING TO NORMAL! 3
If it is safe to do so, try to locate the following items:
•identification, such as driver’s licenses and Social Security cards;
•eyeglasses, hearing aids, or other prosthetic devices; and
•valuables, such as credit cards, bank books, cash, and jewelry.
Many people/entities should be notified of your relocation, including:
•your insurance agent/company;
•your mortgage company (also inform them of the fire);
•your family and friends;
•your child’s school;
•your post office;
•any delivery services;
•your fire and police departments; and
•your utility companies.
Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made. All damage is taken into consideration in developing your insurance claim.
If you are considering contracting for inventory or repair services, discuss your plans with your insurance agent/company first.AFTER THE FIRE – RETURNING TO NORMAL! 4 Insurance
IF YOU ARE INSURED
Give notice of the loss to the insurance company or the insurer’s agent/company.
Ask the insurance company what to do about the immediate needs of the dwelling, such as covering doors, windows, and other exposed areas, and pumping out water.
Ask your insurance agent/company what actions are required of you. Some policyholders may be required to make an inventory of damaged personal property showing in detail the quantity, description, and how much you paid for the items.
IF YOU ARE NOT INSURED
Your recovery from a fire loss may be based upon your own resources and help from your community.
Private organizations that may be sources of aid or information:
•American Red Cross;
•department of social services;
•State or municipal emergency services office; and
•nonprofit crisis counseling centers.
AFTER THE FIRE – RETURNING TO NORMAL! 5
VALUING YOUR PROPERTY
You will encounter different viewpoints on the value of your property in adjusting your fire loss or in claiming a casualty loss on your Federal income tax. Knowing the following terms will help you understand the process used to determine the value of your fire loss:
Your personal valuation
: Your personal loss of goods through fire may be difficult to measure. These personal items have SENTIMENTAL VALUE to you; however, it is objective measures of value that you, the insurer, and the Internal Revenue Service will use as a common ground for discussion. Some of these objective measures are discussed below.
Cost when purchased
: This is an important element in establishing an item’s final value. Receipts will help verify the cost price.
Fair market value before the fire
: This concept is also expressed as ACTUAL CASH VALUE. This is what you could have received for the item if you had sold it the day before the fire. The price would reflect its cost at purchase minus the wear it had sustained since purchase. DEPRECIATION is the formal term used to express the amount of value an item loses over a period of time.
Value after the fire
: This is sometimes called the item’s salvage value.
There are companies that specialize in the restoration of fire-damaged structures. Whether you or your insurer employs this type of service, be clear on who will pay. Be sure to request an estimate of cost for the work. Before any company is hired, check its references. These companies provide a range of services that may include some or all of the following:
•securing the site against further damage;
•estimating structural damage;
•repairing structural damage;
•estimating the cost to repair or renew items of personal property;
•packing, transportation, and storage of household items;
•securing appropriate cleaning or repair subcontractors; and
•storing repaired items until needed.
AFTER THE FIRE – RETURNING TO NORMAL! 6
REPLACEMENT OF VALUABLE DOCUMENTS AND RECORDS
Here’s a checklist of documents you will need to replace if they have been destroyed, and who to contact for information on the replacement process.
Driver’s license, auto registration
Bank books (checking, savings, etc.)
Military discharge papers
Birth, death, and marriage certificates
Social Security or Medicare cards
Titles to deeds
Stocks and bonds
Income tax records
Prepaid burial contract
Animal registration papers
|WHO TO CONTACT
Department of motor vehicles
Your bank, as soon as possible
Your insurance agent
Department of Veterans Affairs
Bureau of Records in the appropriate State
Circuit court where decree was issued
Local Social Security office
The issuing companies, as soon as possible
Records department of the locality in which the property is located
Issuing company or your broker
The IRS center where filed, or your accountant
U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service