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My home was damaged by a fire. Do I need to wait to get permission from my insurance company to begin repairing the damage?

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If your home was damaged by a covered peril, it is important that you notify the insurance company as soon as you can, so that an appraiser can provide you with an estimate and the settlement process can get underway. However, your first priority is not to call the insurance company, but to protect the home. Failing to do this could result in some or your entire claim being denied.

As soon as the damage is identified, it is your responsibility under the homeowners insurance policy, to take the steps necessary to prevent any further damage from happening. This includes boarding up broken windows or doors, covering the roof, and having utilities like water, gas, and electric shut off if they have the potential to leak or cause shorts.

Once you contact the insurance company, they will either send an adjuster out to get an estimate of the damages or instruct you to get estimates from 2 or more contractors. Even if you are going to make the repairs yourself, these estimates will be how the insurance company determines what your settlement will be, and must be acquired. If you do not perform the steps advised by your insurance company, it is possible to have some or the entire final claim amount denied.

Be wary of hiring unlicensed or uninsured contractors, because doing so could result in further damages that are not covered by your home insurance policy. Before allowing any contractor to begin work on your home, check their credentials and contact the Better Business Bureau for your area. Never pay a contractor for the full cost of repairs until the work has been done, to avoid losing your claim settlement to a construction scam that leaves you without the repairs your home needs.

answered Aug 6, 2012 by anonymous
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