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10 Common Fire Insurance Claim Mistakes Policyholders Make

10 Common Mistakes Policyholders Make After A Fire

We’ve compiled a list of 10 common mistakes policyholders make when preparing and filing a fire insurance claim.  Being the victim of a fire is a traumatic experience that often can leave someone in hysteria and feeling hopeless. It’s very common for an insured to make mistakes following a loss of their home or place of business due to a natural disaster, flood or fire.

So, if you’re ever in this situation, you will be more knowledgeable and better suited to deal with it.

1. Packing Out Home Or Business Without A Complete Inventory

How will this affect your claim? The loss of detail that occurs without a concise inventory such as items in cabinets, drawers, shelves, refrigerator, closets, attic, basement or garage can result in thousands of lost dollars. The items under $100 in your home or business may add up to a considerable sum and should be included in your inventory.

2. Pack-Out Without Knowing The Cost

How will this affect your claim? If you have $50,000 coverage for your contents, the pack-out bill will come out of the $50,000 allotted for contents. A great deal of unnecessary work will be done on items that are not cleanable or repairable. The cost for which, you may be responsible for, leaving you short of sufficient funds to replace personal property.

Alternative Method: Only have the pack-out company test clean items that may be cleaned along with a few electronic items and leave the bad items on location. This may cut your pack-out bill in half and keep the money available for replacement of your lost items.


Pack-Out Property $4,000
Dry Cleaning $7,000
Refinishing $3,500
Contents Cleaning $7,500
Contents Storage $2,200
Pack In $2,500
TOTAL: $26,700

Note: The Insurance Company will deduct:

Coverage $50,000
Pack-Out $26,700
Advances $5,000

3. Letting the Insurance Company Contractor Start Repairs Without Knowing The Exact Price & Scope of Repairs

How will this affect your claim? Most insureds don’t realize insurance companies have “preferred contractors” that they work with on a consistent basis. In most cases, the contractor’s scope of repairs is going to be lacking in tear out and pricing based on use of same likeness and quality of material. This results in short-cutting your job thousands of lost dollars that should have gone into your property. You should call an outside expert contractor to make a comparison.

4. Listening To People Who Have Never Experienced A Major Loss

How will this affect your claim? Most people are emotional and off-balance after a loss. You are going to be influenced by the people you talk to. Be on guard and talk to experts who are not associated with your insurance company.

5. Not Knowing What Your Rights Are

How will this affect your claim? Most people assume the only way is the insurance companies’ way. You are entitled to use your own public adjuster, your own contractor, your own pack-out company, etc. You will recover more insurance money when you have your own experts protecting your interests.

6. Not Knowing What Your Insurance Policy Means And What Coverage You Have

How will this affect your claim? All policies are based on a standard 165-line policy, each line having a meaning. There are differences in interpretation. There are certain coverages which are hidden within your policy. Lack of knowledge can cost you thousands of dollars because it is your responsibility to prove your loss.

7. Not Knowing The Complete Personal Property Inventory Process

How will this affect your claim? Most people do not realize that if you take off of work to inventory your loss, which can take about two weeks, you are not going to get reimbursed for your lost work pay. Additionally, when you are emotional, you are not going to want to be at your home listing every detail, which is important. You can fill in the first four columns on your inventory sheets. The insurance company fills out the other four columns which determines how much depreciation is going to be calculated. This results in potentially thousands of dollars which you may not receive based on the type of policy you have.

8. Not Understanding That when The Adjuster Gives You Cash Advance This Amount is Coming Out of Your Final Contents

How will this affect your claim? Proper bookkeeping is necessary. When you get a cash advance from your contents claim, you should immediately use this money for temporary living expenses. Keep receipts and then turn this amount in under Additional Living Expense coverage to be reimbursed. This minimizes confusion later on the claim.

9. Making Decisions Too Quickly

How will this affect your claim? You will literally make hundreds of decisions during the claim process. You will make thousands of decisions during the construction process. Before you make these decisions, take a few weeks to get settled in. This time will allow you to explore your options and to ultimately do what is best for you.

10. Not Checking References

How will this affect your claim? Most people don’t check references. Take the time to talk with people about the company or companies you are thinking of hiring.

Key questions to ask their references are:

  • Why did you hire them?
  • What was their fee?
  • Would you hire them again?

Ask your insurance adjuster for a list of references of people he or she has assisted and call to see how the process went. Just remember that it is your responsibility to prove your loss and you should get the help you need in order to do so.

Take Note Of These Common Mistakes And You’ll Be Fine

Now that you’ve read this list of the 10 common mistakes an insured makes following a loss, it’s important that you take notes and understand how to avoid these mistakes so that you don’t make them yourself.

If you would like more detailed information about understanding your coverage, disaster tips, or help concerning a loss to your property, give Harris Claims Services a call and find out what the Harris Advantageis all about.

We are a one-stop shop for any property loss due to fire, flood or natural disaster. We take care of everything, from providing you with licensed public claims adjusters, board up specialist, contractors, and also a powerful legal team.

Give us a call at 1-847-329-8444 and let us help you get your feet back on the ground and get your family back to a comfortable life.