April 12th was 6 months since we lost our home and just about everything in it in our house fire. Now that I am finally able to share what we have gone through, I feel I should share some things for you to think about.
People always say, “Be Prepared in the Event of a House Fire”. But if you are like me (please say you are like me…) you aren’t. You think you are, but in reality, you are not. In retrospect, I always thought if we had a house fire I would grab “insert item” here. I guess I never thought about if we weren’t home and a fire broke out.
In my last post, I shared with you all my feelings from the day of the fire. If you have not had a chance to read that post yet you can go here, When You Lose Your Home to a Fire.
Keep These Insurance Needs in Mind if You Rent or Own Your Home in the event of a House Fire
- Homeowner/Renters Insurance: Growing up with a Nationwide Insurance agent as a father we always have had insurance whether we were renting or owning our home.
- Renters Insurance: If you rent the landlord has insurance on the dwelling itself but it does NOT cover your personal property or liability for you. I know that policies used to start at $5,000 and up, but now you would have to check with your local insurance company. We have always been treated well by Nationwide so that is who we always have had our coverage with from renting to owning.
- Homeowners Insurance: If you have a mortgage on your home you most likely have homeowners insurance. BUT make sure you have enough coverage for your personal belongings, liability, and dwelling. When Nationwide originally said that FULL replacement cost would put our coverage over $300k I laughed. Our house was only purchased at $84k and I couldn’t figure out why we needed all of that coverage. NOW I know!
So make sure you have:
a. Enough coverage to pay off your house and build a new one (if possible).
b. Make sure you have FULL replacement cost (RC), not actual cash value or (ACV).
c. Your deductible: if possible you want $500 or $1000. We had a $500 deductible but they no longer offer it that low. I always figured it was for a large loss so I wasn’t worried about needing below $500.
- Now I am not sure if I can stress this enough but before the chance of having a house fire, it is so important to document what you have in your house.
Documenting What You Have in Your Home
I always said I would make sure I kept a running list of what we had in our home. I failed to do that. Luckily only the bathroom, kitchen, upstairs landing, and our bedroom were ‘undiscoverable’. This means that the adjuster couldn’t go into these rooms and take out what was there to go list in our loss, so I had to.
Due to the ceiling/roof falling in on the parts of the house above I had to mentally account for what had been in these rooms. To be honest it took me a couple of months because I kept remembering something I hadn’t written down. Since I worked from home I walked around our house quite often so somethings were easy. But the contents of our dressers, the closest area behind our bathroom and drawers in our kitchen were harder.
Our adjuster, which has been wonderful said to close my eyes and then walk to my dresser and see if I could remember things that were on top of it. This did help in most instances, but I recently realized I had forgotten all about our luggage.
How to Document Your Contents
- Video the different rooms in your house, then go back and take photos of items in drawers, cupboards, etc. Then if you make any major purchases add them to your photos.
- Store photos and videos on a cloud, and also keep a USB drive with these on them and store it somewhere other than your home for safekeeping.
- Invest in a fireproof safe for important documents (birth certificates, marriage certificates, social security cards, titles to a vehicle(s), any court documents that you may have). Keep this in a place that would be easy to get to in the event of a fire. Ours was under our bed, luckily my brother-in-law was able to get to it. Everything in it was fine, the only problem was I had taken out our birth certificates and marriage license and my social security card at some point. Our insurance covers up to $1000 in replacing these documents. The hard but I was without a driver’s license for 2 months while waiting for my things to come back in. Since I was born in California it took longer and cost more money to replace as we live in New York.
To Sum Things Up
No one ever ‘plans’ for a house fire, but it is something that can happen to anyone. It is not something you want to lie awake night after night worrying about because that would be a waste of your time and energy. Instead, be prepared for the “in case it happens” scenario.
Also, make sure you have a fire drill in place for your family in the event this were to happen to you during the night. You will have peace of mind knowing you are always prepared.
After reading this if you don’t have insurance for your home/personal property look into it. Most places offer monthly billing. We are insured with Nationwide Insurance and always have been, although they are not offered in every state. If you do have insurance get your policy out and understand if you have Full replacement cost on your home and your personal property. It is also good to make sure you have proper liability.
I hope this information helps you in the event of a loss. If you have any questions please feel free to ask in the comments and I will be happy to email you with any help I can offer.