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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

What to do After Fire Loss in Laguna Beach, CA

4/30/2019 (Permalink)

California is known for the wildfires that rage through the state in the winter and spring months, and if you have had to evacuate because of one of them, you know the fear and anxiety that you go through. The authorities allow a family enough time to pack important papers and a few clothes, and then everyone has to vacate the property.

Often, no one is permitted to go back until the fire is out, which could be several days. The worst case scenario is that when you go back, your beautiful home has been touched by the devastation, and you have to deal with the damage the fire left behind.

This is one of the worst situations that can occur, having all your possessions destroyed by fire, soot or smoke. Fires can be started in a variety of different ways: a cigarette or candle left burning and falling onto a chair or the carpet, a fire in the kitchen that gets out of control or an electrical appliance such as a space heater that is unattended.

Fires are unpredictable and often cannot be contained even if someone discovers it in time, so the fire department adds their water damage from fire to the existing damage and it creates a total loss. Fire Loss is typically covered in the Homeowner’s policy, but how is it determined?

Fire Loss Definition

There must be a definition of fire loss that is consistent, and the National Fire Incident Reporting System or NFIRS does that: “Fire loss is an estimation of the total loss to the structure and contents in terms of replacement in like kind and quantity. This estimation of fire loss includes contents with fire damage, smoke, water from fire. It does not include indirect losses, such as business interruption.”

Laguna Beach, California in Orange County is susceptible to brush and vegetation fires similar to one from last year that burned the south side of the canyon. In 2015, California was second in the nation for having the highest number of fires, over 8,700, reported in one year. In California, this is especially hazardous because the smoke and soot contribute to the air quality.

Fire Damage in Residential Homes

No matter what the cause of a fire, it is a catastrophe for the homeowners. Whether the damage is extensive or light, the owners have lost their precious possessions, and the house, if it's still standing, will involve a clean-up on smoke damage and soot damage. The firefighters that responded to the call also added extensive water damage from fire.

Each of these damages needs to be taken care of in a different way, so it is best to have a professional fire and water cleaning company address the problem. They have the professional solutions and tools to address the soot damage and smoke damage that comes directly from the fire and are also able to help with the water damage from the hoses.

Three Key Points for Calculating Losses from the Fire Department

  •     The estimated total loss both to the structure and the contents and is added to the replacement costs. These estimated costs should be equal to the same kind and quantity of the original items. Fire loss includes a total of everything.
  •     Fire loss is not an indirect loss, such as the loss of business or time at work.
  •     The U.S. Fire Administration recommends the use of the International Code Council’s Building Valuation Data formula to assist fire departments in calculating the total amount lost.

The ICC’s BVD is a worksheet formula to help fire departments determine the dollar loss from a fire and provides a price list to use in addition to the internet. The BVD formula provides the average construction costs per square foot, which can be used to evaluate the estimated value of any structure. When the entire building has been affected by the fire, this is the best method.

Next, a home inventory of the contents of your home needs to be itemized on paper, and this can be an emotional process. You must include as many of your personal items as possible until you come to the limits of your policy.

Making an Inventory

Here are several tips to complete your inventory in the least time-consuming and painless way possible: 1) List each item and assign a value to it. 2) Produce any receipts, photographs or other evidence that you have for the items. 3) If you need more time, get an extension by making a written request.

Time Savers to Help in the Process

Here are some time-saving tips for the process. 1) Use UP's Home Inventory Spreadsheet and the App, which will help with the prices. 2) Go to a box store with a scanner to list to value items. 3) Ask family and friends to help you remember items, so you can complete your inventory.

If the inventory is too difficult for you and you would rather avoid the process, you can negotiate a “cash-out” settlement at your policy’s limits. Remember, to stand strong on the amount because it is the insurer's job to keep a lower return.

These tips can be used for property owners who have lost all or lost only a small amount due to fire damage, smoke damage, and soot damage. It doesn't matter which state you are in, the process is the same.

When you are dealing with the insurance adjuster, don’t allow him/her to become your friend. They have one job to do, and it’s to gain your trust, so the company can repay at the least value. Your evaluation and inventory are significant documentation because it will be what allows you to stand firm.

There is one type of damage that won't be able to be calculated, but it is definitely a considerable damage and that is the air quality affected by the fire. Unfortunately, a fire contributes considerably to the destruction of the ozone layer, but it is not available to be evaluated. by handling fire loss in a constructive and positive way, you will recover. 

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