I want to assist fire victims avoid the heartache and headache we encountered. If only we had someone who had been through what we when our fire occurred, I think things may have turned out differently.
There is so much to the process of filing an insurance claim for fire victims that most people are unaware of. My crowdfunding campaign will reserve at least 5% of the proceeds to assist fire victims. Victims of fire need to know that there are honest people are out there willing to help with no ulterior motives. In hindsight, we could have done much of the paperwork, inventory and got a free quote on damages from a general contractor ourselves. This would have saved us thousands of dollars! I hope to offer my experience and new found knowledge to assist fire victims at Just Prevail.
Fires are devastating, not only could the fire itself have damaged your home and its contents, but the highly acidic smoke, soot accumulation, chemical reactions and water used to put out the fire, continue to damage your home and could leave it unlivable. Your troubles are just beginning.
The first thing you must do is to notify your insurance company to begin your claim. They will then send out one of their loss adjusters to your property. Proceed with caution; it is the role of the loss adjuster to settle your claim as cheaply as possible. They will offer to have “their company come in and clean up the mess.” They will tell you that their company “specializes” in this type of disaster, etc, etc, etc. They will tell you “We’re here to take care of you.” You do not have to accept the insurance company’s offer. In fact, I highly advise against it. Please do some major research and find a company of your own. Your policy allows for that. We weren’t aware of this. We just blindly trusted our insurance company to take care of us. That’s what we pay our premiums for, right?
Most often the insurer is receiving & offering a kickback to the “specialist company.” In our case, the company was completely negligent when inventorying our contents. Hundreds of items were not listed! Items that could have been salvaged were destroyed, scratched, etc. by their hack job. They also drained our policy upwards of over $30,000. Would you believe they wiped our walls for almost a week with sponges? Walls that needed to be ripped out anyways! They told us to throw away items that would not respond to cleaning. This was later used against us by the insurance company in the appraisal process and the company went as far as to lie to back up the insurer. They claim to be “damage experts”, yet they under quote the actual damage, claim after claim. They will act as a comforting ally when they show up, but they are no friend. Beware; they are there for the insurer’s benefit & the insurer alone. The company that came into clean up our fire was nothing more than a glorified carpet cleaning company!
If you had a fire brigade called out to extinguish your fire, this information is available to the public. You will almost certainly get “ambulance chasers” knocking at your door. These private adjusters will try to sign you up with misleading comments that they will represent you and get you everything you should receive from your insurance policy. They will always want something in return and it is usually a fee of the claim value. Don’t think you can spot an ambulance chaser by the way they look. If they looked sleazy no one would hire them. They often have the nicest office in town and can even be one of the largest firms in town. They often advertise in the media as well. Often these companies will lead to you believe legal representation is included with their fees but they are not. They simply refer to you a lawyer who will also take a percentage of your claim. I firmly believe they receive a kickback also from one another.
The “solicit and settle” is a never ending loop in these situations. As long as the ambulance chasers have enough cases, they make money. The more cases they have, the more money they make. These companies can’t possibly protect your interests with so many cases. They will spend little time and money on your case and settle for far too little. When you add up the small settlement amounts of the many clients, the ambulance chasers make plenty of money, the bad faith insurance company and massive corporations get off easy while the injured client receives a fraction of what they should have. The injured party has become a victim, yet again. I want to assist fire victims avoid the emotional and financial distress we endured.