Rebuilding Your Life After a Disaster
When you suffer a fire or flood, your world is turned upside down. It’s a terrible experience that we’ve seen time and time again, and helped our clients through.
If you – or someone you know – has just experienced a home disaster, we hope these tips can help you through.
After the event, you and your family’s safety is the priority. Do not go back into the property or use the utilities until you have been advised that it is safe to do so. The emergency services will be there to support you and should contact the Red Cross’ fire and emergency support (FES) for you to provide immediate supplies, support and shelter.
Once you have shelter or are able to get back into the house, you may want to start fixing things right away: don’t. Once you start on your insurance claim, you will be expected to provide a great deal of proof about your possessions and the damage caused, so don’t disturb the scene just yet, unless you can be sure that you are saving something from further damage. If the cause might be someone else’s fault, also make sure that none of the evidence in the immediate vicinity is disturbed.
If you have suffered heavy losses and intend to make an insurance claim, we strongly advise you to call an independent loss assessor loss assessor to manage your claim for you. They will take over all the conversations with your insurer as well as the many arduous tasks of administration and organising the inventorying that might be asked of you. More than the benefits of someone working on your side to maximise your claim, you will also get the wisdom and experience of someone who has helped people in your situation time and time again and isn’t trying to catch you out.
Make Yourself at Home
Depending on the losses you’ve suffered, the road back to a normal life may be long. In this time, many people become so focused on the tasks ahead that they forget that life still has to go on.
First, restock on the day-to-day essentials: shower and bath products, toothbrushes and toothpaste, glasses or contact lenses, and make sure to get emergency prescriptions or refills for any key medication from your pharmacist or from walk-in or after-hours NHS centres. It may be better to house any pets in kennels or catteries during this time too.
Next up: food. If you’re living in temporary accommodation or in a badly damaged home, it is tempting to just eat fast food or snacks to keep yourself going. Instead, consider buying a cheap microwave, some decent ready meals as well as water, juice and fruit. Remember to keep your receipts for all these purchases as you may well be able to claim at least some of this back through your insurance.
If your furniture has been damaged or you’re sheltered in an unfurnished property, you can rent emergency furniture. This not only restores comforts and essentials like beds, sofa or wardrobes but also towels, kitchenware, and even a television. They will deliver, install and set up everything for you, giving you the freedom of a more home-like environment than staying in a hotel. Again, the cost should be recoupable but do make sure that you or your loss assessor wins sanction from your insurer before proceeding.
Documents and Documenting
As the administrative journey begins, ask your friends and family to start collecting any pre-loss photos they have of your home that you can use with your insurer to help you prove your loss. Also invest in a notebook to record every expense you have and collect the receipts. Many of the purchases you’ll need to make can be reclaimed via your insurance. If you’re self-employed or making a business insurance claim, this documentation will also be useful in the pursuit of your claim for business interruption.
During this time, you’re going to be making a lot of phone calls and carrying out a lot of research – especially if you’re managing your claim by yourself – so stock up on office supplies, files and folders, to track and store all the paperwork you’re going to accumulate. Likewise, look to replace lost mobile phones, phone chargers or computers as quickly as possible (so long as the lost ones do belong to the business). If you don’t have access to the internet, pick up a laptop with a 4g card.
Once you’re able to sort through your home, film or photograph everything you see before you touch it and try to record everything you find and throw away due to damage. Better still, again with your insurers’ prior approval, call in damage limitation experts. Prioritise finding your essential documents – passport, driver’s license, bank cards, birth certificates, house deeds, wills, insurance certificates – and set about ordering replacements for anything that’s been lost. If your home is not secure, arrange for your valuables to be put into storage.
Ultimately, the process can be long and upsetting but with the right support it doesn’t have to be frustrating or difficult for you. If you’d like to understand how our experienced and friendly loss assessors can help you recover from a fire, flood or theft, call us 24/7 on 0800 542 1616 to discuss your case for free.