After a fire in your home, you’re going to be dealing with the insurance company a lot. You depend on your home insurance coverage to rebuild your life, but you don’t have to accept whatever they offer initially. You have rights when you’re dealing with your insurance company.
The first thing you need to know is that you can negotiate with your insurance company if you don’t believe that they have made you a fair offer. You may disagree with your insurance company about the extent of the damage done to your home, the value of the personal contents you lost, or the eligibility of additional living expenses. All of these disagreements represent aspects of a typical claim that should be covered under your home insurance policy.
It’s important that you know your rights after a fire and that you can negotiate a better settlement with your insurance company. Here are three rights you should exercise when you are dealing with your insurance claim.
You Can Get a Cash Advance from the Insurance Company
One reason you may feel pressured into accepting an offer from the insurance company without fair negotiation or consideration is that you’ve been pushed to your financial limits because of having to pay for immediate expenses. Whether you had to leave your home due to an evacuation order or because a fire rendered it unlivable, you and your family will have to pay for temporary shelter, replacement clothes, food, and more.
If you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for these expenses, you may be going into debt and racking up credit card bills; but you don’t need to. You can request a cash advance from your insurance company to immediately cover additional living expenses. You should still keep and log your receipts and expenses so that the value of the advance can be substantiated with the insurance company later. Once substantiated, this amount will simply be deducted from your final settlement.
You Can Hire a Lawyer
The insurance company will hire an insurance adjuster to investigate your claims and recommend a value that they should offer you to settle the claim. The adjuster works for the insurance company and is focused on furthering their interests, but as the policyholder, you can hire someone to help you look out for your interests as well.
Law firms like Virani Law specialize in this kind of insurance law. They help families negotiate better offers from the insurance company after a fire or a flood has damaged their home and forced them to vacate or rebuild.
Your Home Should Be Rebuilt to Pre-Fire Conditions
The insurance company must do its best to rebuild your home to the same state it was in before the fire, though the specifics of your home insurance policy may be a factor in exactly how close it has to be. If the Structure/Dwelling part of your policy covers a fixed amount, such as $300,000, the insurance company will attempt to rebuild your home using that amount of money.
However, if you have Guaranteed Replacement Cost insurance, the insurance company must rebuild your home to its pre-fire conditions regardless of the cost, even if it goes beyond the limit of your policy. In Southern Ontario today, the average cost to build a house is around $170-200 per square foot, and the average home is about 1,800 square feet, with newer houses being built larger than older ones on average.
You have rights when you’re dealing with your insurance company. A lawyer can help you understand and preserve those rights, as well as navigating the details of your insurance policy and eligible expenses. Get help dealing with your insurance company.