Tips for Filing Fire Insurance Claims

Had fire damage to your house? Here is a Q&A to help you deal with insurance.

ByABC News
February 18, 2009, 6:12 PM

Oct. 23, 2007 — -- As wildfires continue to rage throughout Southern California, insurance companies are mobilizing teams to help fire victims deal with claims and start rebuilding their homes. Travelers is just one company sending representatives to shelters in the San Diego area to help locals start filing claims.

Even if you don't have all the information or paperwork, insurance experts are advising Californians to file a claim now to get the process started. Following is a tip sheet from the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group, and Travelers on what you need to know to if your house is damaged by fire.

If my house burns down, will my insurance company pay to have it rebuilt?

The typical homeowner's policy covers damage due to wind, fire and lightning. So if your home has been completely destroyed by a fire or if the roof has been burned, your insurance company will pay to have your home rebuilt or to have the roof replaced. It will also pay if flames and smoke have damaged any other part of your home.

What about the contents of my house?

In addition to paying for damage to the dwelling, homeowners' policies cover other structures on the premises, such as a garage or tool shed, as well as damage to your furniture, clothes, appliances and other personal possessions up to the limits of your policy.

What information is needed to report a claim?

Each claim is different, but information your insurance company will likely need include:

Who will pay for temporary housing?

Your insurance company might cover your housing expenses, depending on your plan. These "additional living expense coverage" or "loss of use coverage" options will pay for similar housing while repairs are being made to your home or if you permanently relocate. Typically, you need to seek reimbursement for expenses incurred. Also keep in mind that payments do no cover lost wages or earnings.

Should I make temporary repairs to my house?