How to report fire damage to an insurance company
How to report fire damage to an insurance company can be a very straight forward process.
In order to ensure a smooth process, you should ideally already have all your paperwork in order and to hand before you contact your insurer.
If you have a buy to let property, loss of rent should also be covered under your insurance policy. If your insurer says that you are not covered, check your policy carefully – you may find that you are!
You will need
- Your insurance policy documents.
- All receipts in relation to the claim (including receipts for emergency works you may have carried out).
Follow our guide:
- Take a moment to read your insurance policy to check exactly what you are covered for before you make the call to your insurer.
- If you are able to safely get into your property, take stock of what has been damaged, you do not have to make a list straight away, you just need to have an idea.
- Now it is time to contact your insurance company’s claim line.
- Place your phone on loudspeaker and ask a friend or family member to record the conversation. This is to ensure that you have a record of the conversation. When the person answers the telephone, let them know that you are recording the conversation before you continue with the call.
- Advise your insurer’s claims team of the date and time of the incident and what type of incident. If it is an emergency and you need to urgently call out an engineer of some sort, confirm with the insurer that they will cover the cost.
- Your main concern should be if the property is not in a liveable condition. If this the case, you need to advise your insurer during the call so that they can help you secure alternative accommodation immediately.
- Your insurer will ask you questions about how the fire started, what has been damaged etc. If you do not know how the fire started, say so, never give your opinion of how you think it started. Insurers use the information you give to assess your insurance claim.
- If you are unable to confirm exactly how the fire started and/or what has been damaged at the point of call, just confirm to the Insurer that you need a Loss Adjuster to come to your property.
If your claim is accepted by the Insurer during the call:
- Request that a Loss Adjuster be assigned to your claim. You may be advised that Loss Adjusters only attend claims worth over a certain amount but you should confirm that you want a Loss Adjusters to deal with your claim.
- Whilst waiting for the Loss Adjuster to visit your property, you should check what has been damaged (if safe to do so) yourself.
- Receipts and paperwork: You should start compiling a list of what was damaged in each room and work out the replacement value of each item. For guidance and a list click here. You should then check what paperwork/email purchase confirmations you have for each item (ie TV, Carpets, Laptops, jewellery etc). If you don’t have copies of these, you can also check to see if you have any photographs of the rooms before the incident took place. Photographs will show your belongings in each room and will actually remind you of what was in each room. All of these things will help you claim back any losses through your insurance company.
- A Loss Adjuster will come to your property to go through what happened and what has been damaged. The Loss Adjuster will go through the property assessing the damage. You can give the Loss Adjuster your list of damaged items with the cost of replacement of each item or if this is not ready, you can confirm that you will send it in a day or two.
- You will then receive a report by email from the Loss Adjuster detailing any works that need to be carried out. You can then use this report to get contractor quotes of your own or confirm to the Loss Adjuster that you will use their contractors.
- If you are using your own contractor, you need to submit their quote to the Loss Adjuster and he or she will accept or reject it.
- If accepted, the insurer will usually pay you the funds to pay the contractor. If rejected, you should liaise with the Loss Adjuster until a resolution is found.
- In terms of the contents and fixtures and fittings that need to be replaced, depending on the policy wording in your insurance documents, the insurer may have contacts with suppliers of the goods to be replaced so you would be given advice as to how to order them or you will be sent the funds by the insurer to replace them yourself.
- Once the contractor has completed the work, ensure you are happy with it. If any issues arise (work not carried out properly by the insurer’s contractor), you should get in touch with the Loss Adjuster to get the contractor to return.
- Once your claim has been settled, you should keep a list of your new items and receipts and keep them somewhere safe. You should also take photographs of each room that has been refurbished if you ever need to go through this process again.
- Any time you purchase something new for your property of value, you should look to updating your insurance and add items to your list.
If your claim is initially rejected by the Insurer during the call:
- Go through your insurance policy documentation and see if there is any wording that confirms that you are covered. Ask the Insurer to confirm and explain to you where in the policy it states that you are not covered – this is a good tactic and it usually works. You should also get them to do this by email/in writing as soon as possible.
- If this doesn’t work, advise that you need a Loss Adjuster to attend your property to access the damage.
If the Insurer refuses to send a Loss Adjuster, take photographs of the damaged rooms/areas of the property, get a copy of your insurance policy and write a letter of complaint (attaching those documents) to your insurer setting out the following (write it in a story form):
On [day] [month] 201[ ] I contacted your company to advise of an incident in relation to fire damage to my property.
You rejected my claim. I feel that this was unfairly rejected because [fill out why you believe your claim should be upheld.]
I look forward to hearing from you.
[Your name/Address etc.]
Regardless of whether you have been rejected verbally, you should never take no for an answer.
Your insurer will then write to you formally outlining their final response.
If at any point of your claim you are not happy, you can write a complaint to the Insurance Company. If you are not happy with their response you can send your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman outlining your complaint in detail. Include all correspondence between you and the insurer. You will also need to give the Financial Ombudsman a copy of your insurance policy document.