Dealing With an Insurance Company After an Oregon Wildfire

After an Oregon wildfire, you will likely turn to your homeowner’s insurance for help. What you may not expect is how they may try to reduce or minimize your claim. Instead of struggling to negotiate a satisfactory settlement, take these simple steps to protect your compensation and speak to an Oregon wildfire attorney as soon as possible.

Ask for an Advance Payment for Immediate Expenses

Even if you prepared for a wildfire, you may be forced to evacuate. Once you are safe, contact your insurance company and ask for an advance against your eventual settlement.

An advance lets you pay for clothing and family care items so you can live and work comfortably. Make reasonable purchases, save receipts, and keep an itemized list for your claim. Ask the insurance company representative to bring the check to your current accommodations.

Salvage and Protect Your Property

When you are back home, salvage the property and prevent further damage. Put a tarp on a leaking roof, turn off the water or power if there is flooding, and repair damaged doors to prevent more destruction. 

Take photos of everything when you return to show the extent of the damage, then begin cleaning and securing the property. 

Contact Your Insurance Provider Immediately

Once you are safe, contact your provider immediately to file a proof of loss claim. If many people are affected by the same fire, you will spend less time waiting for service. 

After submitting the claim, make a list of potentially damaged assets. Collect receipts for fire-related expenses and any photos you took prior to the disaster. Keep everything together in a single folder for easy reference so that you can make copies for the insurance company.

Follow Up With the Insurance Company

In Oregon, insurers are required to send you an acknowledgment of your claim, along with the necessary forms and instructions, within 30 days. When a big event happens, insurance representatives will be busy with the many individual claims that result. 

Although it may seem challenging, getting the best result from an insurance claim means being proactive and following up frequently. 

Track Your Expenses While You Are Displaced

If you must leave your home, you can claim food, lodging, and other costs that differ from your regular expenses. Hotel bills are usually allowed in their entirety, but you can only ask for the difference between what you usually spend on groceries and what you spend while you are displaced. 

Keeping a detailed list and receipts will give you significant bargaining power if your provider decides to argue over what you are owed for reimbursement.

Repair or Replace? Know Your Policy Coverage

Review your policy closely to understand whether your carrier will pay the actual cash value of your home or for its replacement. The actual cash value pays whatever it costs to return your home and its contents to its pre-fire market value. Replacement payments will replace your property at current values, regardless of the worth of what you lost.

You’ll need solid documentation of your home’s market value since the adjusters will make a low initial offer. They prefer to close your claim quickly and for as little as possible.

Speak With an Experienced Insurance Negotiator

Negotiating for the best settlement sometimes requires a trustworthy legal advocate who understands the statutes and precedents around insurance claims. At Paulson Coletti Trial Lawyers PC, we can guide you on pushing back against adjusters who want to take advantage of you. Contact us for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.