Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wildfire Losses and Other Disasters

Parts of Arizona are currently being ravaged by wildfires. Sierra Vista, towns throughout the White Mountain range and people living in eastern Arizona are all threatened by out-of-control wildfires.

Over 60 homes and a number of other businesses in southern Arizona have been burned along with dozens of properties in the White Mountains and eastern Arizona. Many people still don't know if their property has been destroyed because of the mandatory evacuations in these areas.

There are things everybody who has suffered property damage can do to help protect their rights throughout their insurance claims process. My office has put together a Wild Fire Insurance Claim Checklist which we will make available free of charge to anybody who requests one. Simply call 520-882-9115 to get your copy.

One thing anyone who has suffered a property claim should do immediately is to buy a notebook and began making a list of everything you had in the property. In addition to furniture, mentally go through each room and make a list of every item from what's hanging on the wall to closets, cupboards and medicine cabinets. Don't forget the garage or storage sheds! Once you have made a complete list, try to put an accurate date and condition note for each item listed.

At the outset of your claim, you should ask for alternative living expenses to pay for alternative housing and expenses while your home is being rebuilt. You're entitled to similar living conditions to what you lost in the fire. A hotel room or small apartment is not sufficient to replace the family home while rebuilding occurs.

Try to have a friend with you during each meeting with the insurance company representatives or contractors. Take notes! Remember, you have a right to choose your own contractors, as well. Use contractors with an established track record and reputation. Be wary of contractors recommended by your insurance company. Make sure to check them out thoroughly if you decide to use any contractor recommended by your insurance carrier.

You are entitled to have your property rebuilt or repaired to a pre-loss condition. If something can't be repaired to a pre-loss condition then it must be replaced. You can always question what the insurance company and its contractors are doing or recommending. You have a right to negotiate any aspect of your loss in question any deduction for depreciation taken by the insurance company.

Finally, if you feel you're being treated unfairly, get professional help. Call my office at 520-882-9115. Good luck and stay safe! Joe Watkins

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