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How to Handle Your Insurance Claim After a Home Fire: An Interview with Taryn Siciliano of FieldEddy Insurance

By Taryn Siciliano

Tell us a little bit about your experience, company history and the services you offer.

For over 165 years, FieldEddy has committed to bettering our community and improving the lives of our customers. As trusted risk advisers, we know that every home, auto and business is different?which is how we approach each customer and every policy.

As an independent agency, we're not confined to a single insurance carrier. We'll help your family find the right auto, home, or personal umbrella policy by comparing side-by-side rates and coverage from over 20 of the most respected A+ carriers in the industry. We'll help you find the homeowner's insurance that will provide the most valuable combination of tailored coverage, quality service and fair pricing.

With FieldEddy you not only have a choice in companies, but how you prefer to do business. For quotes online or face to face with one of our personal lines insurance specialists, we make it easy to protect what matters most to you?supported by exceptional customer and claim services 24/7. Specific carrier claim phone numbers and forms can be found on our website at www.fieldeddy.com/claim-phone-numbers.

FieldEddy- Western Massachusetts locally owned trusted choice in personal lines insurance coverage.

What tips can you give to help people to make sure they're properly insured before a potential fire?

Your home is the center of your daily life, and likely your most valuable asset. Pre-disaster planning is key. Do as much as you can around the house to prevent a fire from happening and it is always best to hire an experienced professional.

Some of these important tips that should be on your prevention checklist are below and ought to be addressed at least once if not twice a year;
Check electrical wiring- especially extension cords-make sure the power source is not covered or damaged in any way.
Check your plumbing (gas), heating, dryer and air conditioning to ensure they are properly cleaned, vented and in good working order.
Has any wiring been damaged by pests or insects, are your circuit breakers overloaded, check the ground cable are there loose bolts, clamps, etc. which may lead to sparks that cause fire.
Maintain your fireplace/woodstove correctly and have your chimney inspected and cleaned at least once a year.
Never store flammable liquids near ignition sources- keep such items in UL approved containers and out of the house.
Take a close look at your home's electrical system. Do your appliances all use the recommended "three pronged" receptacles.
Be sure to practice kitchen safety- never leave the room while cooking.
After storms take a walk around your property and look for any fallen trees or wires that might need to be taken down and removed.

To avoid potential expenses, it is important that you have adequate fire coverage. Fire coverage is included as part of most property insurance policies. However, it is important that you understand your policy to make sure it provides all the protection you need and that you are paying the right amount in premiums.

Is there something most people don't know about the claim process that they should know?

A fire can be extremely costly, whether it be at your home or place of business. Filing any type of claim can be a pain with a fire being one of the biggest headaches. Our experience and genuine care for our clients ensures that we will be there every step of the way to help guide you in the necessary steps. This can be an emotional time and we will handle what we do best- insurance so you don't have to.

Can you explain what a public adjuster is and how a public adjuster can help homeowners who have experienced a fire on their property?

A public adjuster is an independent insurance claims adjuster who advocates for the policyholder in appraising and negotiating a claimant's insurance claim. This person works on a commission or a percentage of the overall claim amount received. Their fee should be pre-negotiable.

However, as your insurance carrier we will provide an insurance property claims adjuster at no charge to you. This individual will evaluate the damage to your property and estimate the cost to repair your property to pre-loss condition. If you do decide to hire a public adjuster be sure to verify that you are working with a licensed public adjuster and check their qualifications.

What are the basic steps that homeowners should take after a fire, until their claim is settled?

First things first, call your local police and/or fire department (911) to make sure everyone gets out safely and follows the proper safety procedures.

Call your insurance company (FieldEddy) right away to report the claim and let us know the type of loss you have suffered. We will ask you numerous questions specific to your situation in order to get as much information as possible in order to start the filing process right away. We will tell you what you need to do in order to keep your home safe until it is repaired. FieldEddy claim representatives are available 24/7.

Leave the clean up to the professionals, call a restoration expert and let them handle the clean-up 100%. These service professionals respond immediately and will be on site to help walk you through the clean-up process. It is important to remember to leave the clean up to the professionals and that there actually is a science behind certain cleaning processes. In proper clean up can lead to severe health risks. These professionals will also make sure that the home is safe to return to. They will help expedite expenses and help to mitigate the steps to reduce the overall amounts of claim.

Secure your property. If you leave your home, call the local police department to let them know the site will be vacant. Talk to your carrier about finding temporary housing. At FieldEddy we will work to provide this to you and will make sure you have the living essentials you need for shelter, clothing, food, travel, etc. (this amount will be deducted from the total you receive from your insurance claim).

Sometimes as a back-up, the insured might also want to contact your local disaster relief service, such as the Red Cross to see what additional options might be available for food, medicines, and other important things.

Be sure to save receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss. The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and to prove any losses claimed on your income tax.

Photograph and/or take video of the damage.

If possible, thoroughly inspect the home and document all the damage and make a list of all the items you lost. Get repair/replacement estimates (some fees may be applicable). Continue paying your insurance premiums and mortgage.

Once your home is safe and secure, check with your adjuster (and sometimes the local fire/police departments get involved) to make sure your water, electricity and gas are safe to turn on and use. Check with an accountant or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) about special benefits for people recovering from fire loss.

What regrets have you seen people have when it comes to making an insurance claim due to fire? What advice would you give to help other homeowners avoid this?

Unfortunately the burden of proof is on the claimant. This is why it is so important to do your pre-disaster planning and document before and after a claim. In this day of age with all of the technology that is available to us, it is easy to document your valuables. It is best to take a video and record such items and give this to us (your insurance company) to keep on record. FieldEddy can even supply you with the disc or usb drive to save such records. It is in your best interest to update this annually.

FieldEddy is also able to provide clients with a RISC Solution Review. This Personal Risk Management Insurance is a property process that carefully streamlines and manages your individual needs in order to; proactively reduce long term exposure to risk, evaluate potential insurance coverage shortcomings and enhance your personal and family growth through the creation of a full coverage portfolio. This review will help ensure that you have the appropriate coverage for your specific situation. Often times, one may limit their coverage's in order to keep premiums down, this leaves a gap and the insured value is less than the true value. For instance, if you own an old home that was recently updated and is now up to code, you would want to make sure that the home is insured for the updated value. Even if an older home is going to undergo a demolition, you will want to make sure it is insured for the adequate value making sure the appropriate coverage is there.

Again, we can't stress enough that the most important recommendation (piece of advice) we can give our clients is to be proactive and implement a pre-disaster plan. Be sure to document your valuables now, so in the case of a claim, you will have the proper documentation. This will help to expedite the process and make sure the claim is as accurate as can be. The time to prepare for a storm is not as it approaches- the time to prepare is now.

What's the best way for people to reach you and your company?

Having complete confidence that you have the right insurance coverage for your situation is a great feeling. Our insights help you make smart, informed decisions about all your insurance needs. When it comes to getting the appropriate coverage at a reasonable price, FieldEddy is the right choice. For all of your insurance needs and to learn more about insuring against a fire, call us toll free at 800. 784. 4873 or visit us online at www.fieldeddy.com.

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