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Landlords guide to making
a fire insurance claim

If you’ve experienced a fire in your property, here is a guide to what you can expect to happen, in what order,
and the options you face.

Steps To Take Your Options
Step 1. Decide if you want to use a Loss Assessor.A Loss Assessor works on your behalf, handling the entire claim process including buildings, contents (if applicable) and loss of rent Consider carefully the advantages of using a Loss Assessor and the potential pitfalls if you don’t.
Step 2. Notify the insurance company. You need to tell them immediately. Many will have a special emergency
number that you can call 24 hours every day throughout the year.
Step 3. Arrange to secure the building.Once the fire service has left, it is your responsibility to prevent any
further damage or loss and ensure your property is safe. There are two key steps you must take:

  • Firstly, remember that you are legally responsible for ensuring there is no danger to the public or anyone entering the property. Has the fire compromised the structure of your property? You need to bring in a qualified (Chartered) Surveyor* to check.
  • Secondly, has the fire compromised the electrical safety of your property?
    You must have your house checked by a qualified electrician.
As it’s your legal responsibility to mitigate against any further damage or loss, you need to act immediately. You can therefore instruct electricians and contractors to make your building safe as long as the costs are appropriate. If there is no immediate danger, you should wait for your insurer’s approval to carry out any works.

All the steps above should be completed immediately following the fire.

Step 4. Meet with the Loss Adjuster.The insurance company will appoint, and pay for, a Loss Adjuster.
They will initiate all the investigations and negotiations. A preliminary fact-finding meeting between yourself and the Loss Adjuster will take place, probably at your damaged property. It can prove valuable to have a professional Loss Assessor of equal standing and experience on your side at this meeting if at all possible. The Loss Adjuster will assess the damage as well as asking you pertinent and searching questions about the fire and your claim history. Depending on the size and circumstances of your claim, the Loss Adjuster may instruct a forensic scientist to investigate the cause of the fire.
If you decide to use our services your Loss Assessor will run through everything with you before this meeting. Many of our clients have found this particularly helpful as they have all the answers the Loss Adjuster asks them to hand, this makes the meeting run smoothly so the claim can progress more quickly.
Step 5. Loss Adjuster’s initial report. Following this meeting, the Loss Adjuster will submit a detailed report
to the insurance company on the circumstances surrounding the fire. He or she will also make a recommendation on whether the insurer should accept liability and agree to pay your claim – or not. They will also decide whether the limits of your insurance policy are sufficient; if not, you face a problem with underinsurance.
If you are unsatisfied with the Loss Adjuster’s initial report you have the right to challenge the findings. A Loss Assessor will work on your behalf to ensure you receive everything you are entitled to. The most common issue for policyholders at this stage is underinsurance, your Loss Assessor will talk you through how to make the most effective use of your budget if underinsurance affects your claim.
Step 6. Appointment of emergency contractors. These should now be appointed to carry out any immediate emergency works. This may include:

    • Salvaging and safely storing anything that isn’t too badly damaged.
    • Securing and weather-proofing the property, for example covering
      the roof; boarding up windows and doors; scaffolding.
    • Checking for the presence of asbestos.
    • Making the property safe.

But remember: your insurers may not agree to pay for this work until they have accepted liability for your claim. In the meantime, it is still your responsibility to mitigate your loss and prevent injury to anyone (see step 3 for details).

It is your property – you are entitled to choose the contractors you’d like to rebuild your property providing they are suitably qualified and their costs are reasonable. You do not have to use your insurer’s contractors.
Step 7. Appointment of qualified (Chartered) Surveyor*.He or she will assess the damage to your property and put together a detailed scope of works and specification for the building re-instatement. We would recommend to anyone at this stage to appoint only a truly independent Surveyor who is Chartered through The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. You should check any Surveyor put forward by the insurer or their Loss Adjuster. Whether you choose to use our Loss Assessing services or not, we can put you in touch with Surveyors who have the credentials and experience necessary to ensure your property is rebuilt to the highest standards and safeguard its value.
Step 8. Contents claim (if yours is a furnished property).If necessary, you (or your Loss Assessor) will now start to prepare a claim for lost or damaged contents. It is your responsibility to make this as detailed as possible, with accurate replacement values. Contents claims can be settled by accepting replacement goods, cash, or a combination of the two.
Step 9. Initial loss of rent claimYou (or your Loss Assessor if you choose to appoint one) will need to request an initial claim for loss of rent. A reasonable request at this stage is usually around 3 months rental value. When the three month point approaches you will have a better understanding of the period your property is likely to be unoccupied in full and can request another payment.
Step 10. Negotiations with Loss Adjuster.There should now be another meeting with the Loss Adjuster to discuss
the entire claim, including:

  • Building specifications/scope of works.
  • Initial loss of rent claim
  • Contents claim, if necessary
These negotiations are another crucial stage in the claim process. Our Loss Assessor’s extensive knowledge, experience and understanding of the insurance claim process makes a huge difference throughout these negotiations.
Step 11. Tender process. The Surveyor will now put the re-building works out to tender and contractors wishing to bid for the work will submit their tenders, these will be analysed by the Surveyor.
Step 12. Contractors appointed. The successful tender will now be accepted and the contractors who will
do the work on your property will be appointed.
If the contractor you would prefer to carry out the work
has not submitted the lowestpriced tender, your options are as follows:

  • Your contractor can reduce their quote.
  • You can fund the difference.
  • You can agree a combination of the two.
Step 13. Pre-contract meeting. The Surveyor will meet with the contractors on site to agree the final
scope of works.
Step 14. Building works. These now progress until completion. You don’t have to have your property reinstated exactly as it was before the fire, this offers a good opportunity to make long-awaited alterations. You can discuss your ideas with your Loss Assessor and Surveyor.
Step 15. You are able to move tenants back into the property.Your tenants will have a newly-refurbished house to move into
Step 16. Final claim. You now submit the final part of your claim which covers all your expenses for loss of rent.

Morgan Clark – supporting you all the way

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