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Determining the Value of Personal Property Damage After a House Fire

Imagine coming home after work, only to find your home up in flames. Even if the fire is limited to one part of the house, it is terrifying. A house fire will destroy many personal belongings. Luckily, home insurance covers personal property damage in a fire.

The last thing you’ll want to do is deal with the insurance company. Thankfully, our fire damage attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale can handle that for you.

Most Homeowners’ Insurance Policies Cover Damage Caused by a Fire

If you have a mortgage on your house, then you’re required to carry homeowner’s insurance. This insurance protects your home in the event of a fire, storm, or other Act of God.

In the cases our Ft. Lauderdale property damage lawyers have handled, the home insurance policies have typically covered all or some of the following:

  • Damage caused by smoke or fire
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Falling trees and similar events
  • Weather events such as lightning, wind, hail, etc.

Obviously, fire is a covered event or peril. Your insurance policy will categorize the source of your loss as either a covered peril or an excluded peril.

Your Homeowner’s Policy Covers Your Dwelling and Personal Property Damage

Many of our clients assume that their insurance policy only covers damage to the home. While your dwelling is certainly covered, so are most other structures on your property.

Some of the covered structures include:

  • Shed
  • Garage (attached and detached)
  • Outhouse
  • Greenhouse

Your policy also covers your personal property. When you purchase homeowner’s insurance or supplemental fire insurance, you are buying protection for the things inside the house as well.

What Personal Belongings Are Covered in the Event of a Fire?

One of the things about a fire is that it sweeps through the house, destroying everything in its wake. It is different from wind or hail. These tend to be localized to the areas initially affected. This is not the case in a fire.

Some of the personal possessions that may be damaged or destroyed by a fire include:

  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Electronics
  • Clothing
  • Art
  • Jewelry
  • Golf clubs
  • Sporting equipment
  • Books

The list could go on and on. As long as you can prove that the item was damaged or destroyed, you should be reimbursed for it.

Your Property Damage Attorney in Ft. Lauderdale Needs to Determine Your Policy Limits

One of the tough things about a fire is that it can envelop your entire dwelling. When you purchase your homeowner’s policy, you select what you want your policy limits to be.

For example, if you want to keep your premiums lower, you may choose to keep your coverage amounts low. Unfortunately, when a fire does make its way through your house, there’s a good chance it will destroy nearly everything you own.

Your property damage attorney in Ft. Lauderdale will need to check the terms of your policy to see if it even covers all of your loss.

Firefighters at a house fire, personal property damage concept

You Should Make a List of All Personal Property Damaged or Destroyed in the Fire

Once the fire department and investigators deem your property safe, you need to start cataloging everything that was damaged or destroyed. Obviously, you don’t want to sift through your things if it’s not safe.

We suggest you have a consultant come out and confirm which sections of your home you should avoid. Once that’s done, you need to start a list of what items were damaged or ruined.

Make Sure You Take Pictures of the Damaged Items on Your Phone

Our property damage attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale will also need to see pictures or a video of your damaged items. If they need to appeal your insurance claim, they need to be intimately familiar with the details.

It will be difficult for your Ft. Lauderdale property damage lawyer to make an argument for a higher payment if they have no idea what items were destroyed. It’s not a bad idea to spend a few hundred dollars on an expert to come out and help you catalog your damaged items.

What Happens if You Aren’t Sure How Much You Paid for Certain Items?

Figuring out how much insurance should pay for personal property damage in a fire can be tough. If you asked someone how much they paid for their record player, most people would have no idea. Very few people have documentation showing how much they paid for the various items in their homes.

It’s probably the same with you. Whether or not this will impact your claim depends on the type of coverage you have. Homeowner policies offer two types of reimbursement.

The first type of reimbursement is the actual value of your property. In this contract, you can only demand compensation equal to the amount you initially paid for the item.

The second type of reimbursement is called replacement value compensation. Here, you can demand compensation equal to whatever it would cost to buy your damaged items today. Obviously, these amounts will be considerably higher than those for the actual value.

An Independent Insurance Adjuster Can Help Put a Price on Personal Property Damage

When you show your property damage attorney in Ft. Lauderdale your list of damaged items, it may be rather large. It will be hard for either you or your Ft. Lauderdale property damage lawyer to track down the value of these items.

Your attorney may suggest that you hire someone to come out and do an appraisal for you. This way, not only is it done properly, but the appraiser will certify the values they apply to each item.

Call Today and Schedule Your Free, Initial Consultation

If you suffered a house fire and are having trouble getting your insurance claim paid, we can help. Our property damage attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale have decades of combined experience helping homeowners just like you.

What the insurance adjusters don’t seem to realize is that losing your worldly possessions in a fire is devastating. It is life-changing for many people. The last thing you need to hear is that your insurance carrier has denied your claim.

Our Ft. Lauderdale property damage lawyers understand why it’s so important that your claim be paid. It’s not just about buying new stuff. It’s about the insurance company respecting you enough to compensate you for your loss.

Contact our office as soon as possible after your fire. We can help you file your initial claim. We will also be by your side throughout the claims process.

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