Watching your home and personal belongings go up in flames can be a traumatic experience with stress and confusion that lasts long after the event. Fires are distressing enough without the added stress of not knowing what to do afterward. Aside from injuries that may have been suffered, the damage to your property can include soot, burns, smoke, and even water damage, which can take some time to return to normal.
In this Kwiksure article, we’ll cover some tips on the do’s and don’ts so you can be better prepared in the event of a fire.
What to do if a fire starts
The first thing you should do as soon as you notice a fire is get to safety. Once you’re in a safe spot, it’s time to call the fire department so that they can put out the fire as soon as possible. Even though it sounds like obvious advice, you’d be surprised to hear that many people call their insurance agent or relatives first. Get to safety and make the call.
After you’ve contacted the fire department, the next step is to call your insurance provider as soon as possible. The sooner you contact them, the sooner you can start the process of getting your home back to normal. Following your call, your insurance company will send an agent to evaluate the damage and come up with an estimated cost of repair.
Insurance companies often pay for an inventory of your belongings, which is usually supervised by the mitigation company. They will take photographs of the possessions in your home or business and box and label them accordingly. Check with your agent to find out if you have this coverage. If not, you’ll either have to do it yourself or hire someone to make the inventory.
Do contact a contractor
Once you’ve spoken to your insurance company, you’ll want to get a professional contractor to your place at the earliest opportunity. This will ensure that you get the rebuilding and cleanup process going as quickly as possible. Even though it’s normal for insurance providers to recommend contractors, it’s worth noting that you can choose any professional contractor you want.
Any smoke, fire, soot, water, and mildew damage can be hazardous and needs to be cleaned by a professional as soon as possible to reduce further damage and lasting health effects. Be sure to take notes during the entire time the contractor is working. What’s more, get any promises your insurance company makes in writing so you have proof if you do not receive what you were promised.
Don’t use utilities right away
You’ll probably want to turn on the lights, heating, or water to get comfortable upon returning to your home, but you shouldn’t until your utility company and fire department says it’s okay to do so. Water damage, gas leaks, and even more fires can be caused by connecting unsafe utilities.
Don’t throw your property out yet
Cataloging and documenting all of your possessions damaged in the fire is crucial if you want to receive the fullest settlement. You’ll need to give as much information as you can on each item, such as serial numbers, model names, receipts, and estimated purchase dates. Ask your insurance provider if your policy covers the handling of possessions.
When documenting items with several parts, it’s important to note each part instead of the lump sum. For instance, if your toolbox is damaged, you need to list the make, model, and approximate cost of each tool inside it along with the toolbox itself. Finally, you shouldn’t throw anything away until your insurance company has given you the okay - regardless of the condition it is in.
Do take charge of the situation
Collaborate with your contractor and make sure they’re doing everything they can to restore your place to pre-fire conditions. They are your supporter in working with the insurance agent to ensure that repairs and finishes are of optimal quality.
It’s a good idea to record a video of your property and possessions on an annual basis. Doing so makes it much easier to submit a claim to your insurance provider. Nowadays, there are many apps that you can use to catalog your belongings so you are prepared for unforeseen events.
What fire damage does your insurance cover?
What damage fire insurance covers depends on your insurance policy. Contact your insurance company to determine your current cover, and make any changes if necessary.
Kwiksure’s fire insurance cover protects your home or apartment’s structure and will give you an indemnity if a loss occurs. When buying a fire insurance policy, you can extend the coverage to include other perils aside from fire. An ‘extra perils’ policy can include coverage from lightning, typhoons, landslides, floods, falling objects, and explosions.
Check out our guide to fire insurance to learn more about what every homeowner needs to know about fire insurance. If you’re looking to buy home content insurance or fire insurance in Hong Kong, contact us to speak to one of our expert advisors today.