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  • Craig Harrell

Fire Damage Claims: Who is Liable?

Updated: Apr 16

When a fire strikes your home, the emotional and physical toll it takes on you can be overwhelming. Along with the immediate concern for the safety and well-being of your loved ones, the devastation can bring a host of complicated issues, like navigating the world of insurance claims. You may find yourself asking, "Who is liable?" "How do I file a fire damage claim?" And "How do I ensure my claim gets approved?"


Before we delve into the nitty-gritty, it's critical to clarify that liability for fire damage generally falls on the person or entity that caused the fire. If it's due to faulty wiring, for instance, the electrician or electrical company may be held accountable. However, in most cases, your homeowners' insurance policy should cover you for damages, regardless of who is liable, unless the fire is proven to be intentionally set.


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Filing a Fire Damage Claim


After ensuring everyone's safety and calling the fire department, the first step in managing the aftermath of a fire is to report the incident to your insurance company. Here's a step-by-step guide:


  1. Contact Your Insurance Company Immediately Prompt reporting is crucial. The sooner you contact your insurance company, the sooner they can begin processing your claim.

  2. Document Everything Keep records of all communication with your insurance company, and take plenty of photos and videos of the damage. Don't forget to make a list of damaged items, and their approximate value, and if possible, provide receipts.

  3. File a Police Report If you suspect that the fire was a result of arson or burglary, report it to the police immediately. A copy of the police report will strengthen your insurance claim.

  4. Complete Claim Forms Promptly Your insurer will send you claim forms, which you should fill out as soon as possible to avoid delays.

  5. Work with an Adjuster The insurance company will appoint an adjuster to assess the damage and estimate the cost of repair or replacement. Cooperate with them, but also remember they work for the insurance company, not you.


Tips and Tricks for Claim Approval


Navigating insurance claims can be daunting, but a few tips and tricks can help ensure your claim gets approved:


  1. Understand Your Policy Read your homeowners' insurance policy carefully. Understanding the ins and outs of what is covered and what isn't will give you a better idea of how to approach your claim.

  2. Keep Accurate Records Accurate and detailed documentation is key. From the items damaged to the communication with your insurance company, keep meticulous records of everything.

  3. Mitigate Further Damage If possible, take steps to prevent additional damage to your property after the fire, such as covering holes in your roof or walls. However, do not start major repairs until the adjuster has assessed the damage.

  4. Get a Second Opinion If you feel the adjuster's estimate is too low, don't be afraid to get a second opinion from an independent contractor. This can provide a useful comparison and give you leverage in discussions.

  5. Be Persistent If your claim is denied or you're not happy with the payout, don't give up. Review the insurer's reason for denial or low payout. If you believe they're in error, file an appeal and provide more evidence to support your claim. You can also hire a public adjuster from our team to help.

The Bottom Line


The process of filing a fire damage claim can seem overwhelming, especially when dealing with the stress and shock that can follow such an event. Remember, understanding your policy, maintaining clear and comprehensive records, and being proactive and persistent throughout the process are your best tools to navigate this journey.


Never hesitate to seek help, whether from a trusted contractor for an additional damage estimate or from Harrell Adjusting Services for a second opinion on your claim. While a house fire can be a traumatic event, taking the right steps in filing an insurance claim can significantly help you recover and rebuild. The focus is to ensure you have the financial resources necessary to get your life back on track.

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