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Winter in Canada poses plenty of risks and challenges for homeowners. Not only can the weather lead to frozen pipes or do a number on your roof, but winter is also the riskiest season for house fires. House fires are among the most common emergencies faced by Canadians.
Among the leading causes of house fires in winter are:
- Heating equipment, i.e., portable space heaters;
- Unattended candles or other open flames;
- Leaving a hot stovetop unattended; and
- Improper disposal of smoking materials.
If a fire does happen, you’ll need to focus on your home insurance claim. It’s a process that can be time-consuming and complicated. However, taking these steps can make the process easier.
#1 Get Help with Your Claim
The more significant the size of your loss, the more likely you’ll need help. An insurance lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of your claim. In cases where you’ve experienced a total or significant loss, an insurance lawyer can make a big difference by negotiating with your insurer.
An insurance lawyer’s role is to use their knowledge and understanding of your insurance policy to get the insurance company to provide full compensation. They know how to negotiate with the insurance company to make sure they live up to the terms of the policy you’ve been paying for.
#2 Communicate with Your Insurance Company
One of the most common sources of insurance claim mistakes is poor communication. Problems can arise if you don’t (or can’t) accurately describe the damage to your property or the extent of your losses.
It will also help if you take notes of your communications with the insurance company or the adjuster. You don’t want to rely on your memory alone.
#3 Document the Damage
Once the fire department has allowed you to re-enter your home, take photos or videos of the damages. You will want to keep an extensive record of the belongings that you’ve lost. Photograph both structural damage and lost belongings before any clean-up happens.
#4 Don’t Rush into Things
When you start receiving estimates and quotes for repairs, don’t rush into approving them before all of the damage has been documented and evaluated by the insurer. Sometimes insurers may put pressure on homeowners to approve estimates so that work can begin, but as the homeowner, you need to be sure that estimates are accurate.
#5 Ask Friends and Family for Help with a Home Inventory
One of the biggest challenges that lies ahead is listing all of the belongings damaged or lost in the fire. In a major fire, many belongings may be entirely lost or unrecognizable.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help from family or friends as you compile a Schedule of Loss. This is a list of lost belongings, along with their pricing, that either you or the insurer will need to prepare before you can receive funds to replace the items.
Ask family members to point out specific items in your home in case you have forgotten them. You can also ask friends if they have photos of your home that can help jog your memory.