Wildfires cause massive amounts of damage each year. In recent years, wildfire damage has rapidly escalated in some areas of the country. This concerning trend is often the result of drier weather and warmer climates.
In some cases, wildfires have damaged entire neighborhoods and devastated local communities. In the wake of a wildfire, victims may feel hopeless and overwhelmed. After all, it can be emotionally devastating when a fire destroys much or all of what you own.
If you hold certain types of insurance policies, you may know that you are owed compensation for the personal belongings that were lost in a wildfire. But most people do not have experience with wildfire belongings claims until disaster strikes.
When you have lost personal belongings to a wildfire, do not panic. Contact a skilled legal professional as soon as possible. An accomplished lawyer can help you to effectively file wildfire belongings claims.
Below, we will examine some of the most important elements of the personal belongings claims process.
When you need the best legal representation, look no further. Contact Morgan & Morgan to ensure the best outcome possible in your case. We have a long history of securing positive results for our clients.
We know that wildfire victims have plenty of challenges to handle. That is why we offer a no-cost case evaluation so that we can examine the circumstances of your wildfire claim. To schedule your consultation, fill out the user-friendly contact form on our website.
Common Causes of Wildfires
Most wildfires are caused by people. Some estimates suggest that up to 85% are the result of human action.
Wildfires can start because hikers fail to adequately extinguish a campfire. Throwing a lit cigarette out of a car window can cause a fire. There are innumerable scenarios that can produce wildfires.
But other fires are the result of environmental changes and trends from indirect human action. This is evidenced by the increasing severity of wildfires in many parts of the United States.
Some environmental factors that increase the likelihood of wildfires include:
Research shows that global temperature increase has caused double the number of acres to burn annually when compared with the 1980s.
Hotter temperatures mean more evaporation. As a result, the land becomes drier. Drier air and land can make trees and other plant material more likely to burn.
Long, wet winters are a crucial source of environmental protections against wildfires. As winters become shorter, there will be a longer window of time each year in which fires are possible.
Less rainfall leads to dryer conditions overall. In addition to hotter temperatures, droughts make wildfires much more likely to start and to become dangerous.
Some types of insects can survive through the shorter winters brought on by climate change. Some of these pests nest inside of trees.
Because they are no longer subject to long winters, these pests can cause trees to die. This leads to more dead and dry wood, making wildfires more powerful.
What Can an Attorney Do for You?
Even if you are planning to file a claim for personal belongings that you lost in a wildfire, you may be unsure about the ways that an attorney can help. Many claimants believe that they can simply file a claim through their insurance carrier and receive the money that they need.
Sadly, this is not always the case. Insurance providers are not working in your best financial interests.
The priority of insurance companies is their financial bottom lines. They are motivated to minimize the payout on every claim that is filed.
Because of this, insurance adjusters are trained to manipulate claimants into undermining or devaluing their own cases. Do not let this happen to you!
When you hire an accomplished attorney, they will negotiate with the relevant insurance provider on your behalf. This will help you to avoid the possibility of an inadequate settlement.
Having a lawyer speak on your behalf lets the insurance company know that you mean business. While victims need to file wildfire belongings claims, they do not have to do it alone.
Steps in the Wildfire Belongings Claims Process
Minor home fires are incredibly frustrating and challenging. It is usually expensive to replace the property that was damaged or destroyed.
Major fires often result in life-altering consequences. Many victims lose everything they own.
No matter how severe the fire may be, most homeowner’s insurance policies should help you to recover the money you need to get your life back on track.
Consider the following steps to make filing wildfire belongings claims easier.
Prepare a Copy of Your Insurance Policy
Preparation is a crucial tool in responding to wildfire damage. If you know that you are in an area that is prone to wildfires, take some preparatory steps.
Keep your important documents in a single location. It is a good idea to prepare a fire safe with your most sensitive paperwork, including your insurance policy information.
In the case of an emergency, grab your documents before fleeing your home.
Images of Your Belongings
Another useful preparation strategy is to take pictures of your home and your belongings. Make sure to store these digitally on a cloud-based service.
If any of your electronic devices are damaged or destroyed in the wildfire, you will have photographic documentation of your property. When you file an insurance claim, these photos can serve as evidence of the items that need to be replaced.
It is important to report your claim quickly and with the help of an accomplished attorney.
Understand Your Insurance Policy
Many homeowners and renters are unsure about the details of the things that their insurance policy covers. Make yourself familiar with the stipulations of your insurance policy.
This will help you to accurately anticipate the types of claims that you can file. Fortunately, most standard homeowner’s insurance policies cover the damages from fires. These damages may include contamination or destruction of property from smoke, ash, or flames.
However, some exceptions can exist. It is vital to be aware of any exceptions that apply to your policy.
Consider the following example. If your home is within 2,500 feet of an area that is at high-risk for fires, you may need to secure extra coverage to protect against wildfire damage.
Some homeowners and renters who live in high-risk locations are unable to get fire damage coverage.
Typically, however, homeowner’s insurance policies will cover the following:
This type of coverage is intended to reimburse you for any damage to your garage, tool shed, deck, porch, or the main structure of your home.
Personal Property Coverage
This is the type of coverage that you will need when you file wildfire belongings claims. Personal property policies cover damage to clothing, electronics, furniture, appliances, and miscellaneous items.
Understanding the types of coverage that you have will help you to file the right type of claim.
Have the Damage Inspected
In some wildfire cases, the insurance company will want to inspect your home and belongings to document the damage.
If your insurance provider will not provide an investigator, you will likely have the option to hire one independently. When you are looking for someone to perform a damage assessment, make sure that they have a track record of inspecting homes damaged by wildfires.
Qualified field testers can check for damage from:
- And more
The results of this investigation can impact the amount of recovery that you receive. In many cases, it is a good idea to get a second opinion regarding the value of your belongings.
If you have any questions about this process, make sure to speak with a skilled attorney.
Find Temporary Accommodations
If your home is uninhabitable because of fire damage, you will need to find a place to stay. Sometimes, homeowner’s insurance policies will provide for these types of additional living expenses.
Additional living expense coverage can compensate for hotel bills and the cost of meals for a set period of time. This type of coverage will be relevant if you cannot stay in your home as the result of wildfire damage.
No matter what the circumstances of your claim may be, talk with an accomplished lawyer to make sure that you receive maximum recovery.