Home insurance - House fire: smoke damage

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Based on resolver’s experience to date, there are few things more terrifying and potentially dangerous than a fire – insurance might cover the damage to property, but it won't help with lost photos or the emotional distress caused by being broken into and having your home damaged by fire. If the fire brigade has been called you will have a fire report number that you should give to your insurer upon contacting them. The main problem with fire damage insurance claims is assessing the extent of the damage caused; especially once smoke damage and other after affects are considered. Some of the key issues when settling an insurance claim are: • Contents left unrecognisable by the fire. • Smoke damage to walls, ceilings, piping and electrical items. • Unseen damage to the structure of the property. • Loss of business, income and rent. It may be worth instructing an independent damage and repair valuation assessor in order to ensure that your claim is settled for an amount which will allow you to rebuild your life effectively. Your buildings and contents insurance will cover the damage and loss - make sure you report your claim to both buildings and contents insurer if they are different. Start to draw up a list of contents in damaged areas to aid your claim to be processed. If you are unable to return to your home and you can’t stay with friends or relatives your insurance company may cover the cost of bed and breakfast or hotel accommodation. If you are going to be out of your property for some time while your home is being repaired or rebuilt you may want to find rented accommodation. Local housing agencies will have a list of accommodation. Most insurance companies will be able to give you an emergency payment to cover items for everyday living such as clothing - this will be taken off the final settlement. Make sure you keep in contact with your insurance company regularly to make sure the work carried out is covered by your policy. Don’t be tempted to dispose of items that appear to be smoke damaged or beyond repair until you have agreed this with your loss adjuster. Your insurers will give you advice and may have a list of companies they deal with to help you and make the whole process as stress-free as possible. Be aware that by making a claim on your insurances, your renewal premiums will most likely increase and you will lose any no claims bonuses you may have accrued.

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If you cannot resolve your issue you cannot raise your case to the Ombudsman until 8 weeks after you have first raised your complaint with your supplier, or you have received a ‘letter of deadlock’ from the company stating that they cannot resolve the issue as you have asked. Your complaint must also not be older than 9 months. For an accurate decision by the Ombudsman you should provide a detailed file of your communications and supporting documentation. In addition make sure you explain what you want as an outcome as this will help assess your case.

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