What to Do if a Wildfire Damages or Destroys Your Home
August 17, 2023
The devastating wildfires in Maui have resulted in over 100 deaths with very little of the search area surveyed as of August 15. Footage and testimonies from the Hawaiian island are difficult to take in for observers, but dealing with the aftermath is a whole different nightmare for those who lived through the destruction. No matter where such a disastrous event takes place, there are steps you can take if a wildfire damages or destroys your home.
Wildfire Damages and Repair
First of all, at Phillips Law Group, we want to extend our condolences to those who lost loved ones and hope to offer some information for those dealing with the destruction from the Maui wildfires. The National Fire Protection Association reported that the fires are the deadliest in the United States in more than 100 years, and our hearts are with all of those impacted by the disaster.
If you ever have to deal with wildfire damages, there are ways to move forward even as you’re picking up the pieces of your life.
Before you ever decide to pursue an insurance claim or to contact an attorney for help, you should be sure anyone involved in a fire – or who may have inhaled smoke – seeks medical attention. Your health and the health of your loved ones is always most important.
The next step is to check that your property is even safe to survey for damages. Water, smoke damage, soot, and more can all impact the safety of your property and impact your health. If there is an evacuation order in place, wait until government officials lift it. Then, proceed with caution.
Homeowners insurance policies often cover damage to your home and property caused by wildfire, but coverage can vary, so you should review your own to see what it covers. Once your property is safe to return to, you should document the damage in the form of photos and videos for “proof of loss’‘ informational purposes.
Your insurance company will ask you to describe any lost property, down to personal items and an estimation of their value. You may need to provide receipts for some of this information, depending on if they’re available or were also lost due to wildfire damage.
Asking for Help After Wildfire Damages
You might already know that your insurance company may be able to assist you in replacing destroyed property and could even have a list of companies to reach out to for repairs. But did you know that it may help cover living expenses if your home is uninhabitable?
While this coverage does have limitations, your policy may include assistance with things like the costs of staying at a hotel. And in the immediate aftermath, as you’re getting that all sorted out, disaster relief services such as the American Red Cross should be able to help you with needs like shelter, food, clothes, and other basic necessities for you and your family.
When you are settled and safe following a wildfire, and you are able to document your losses, you will need to work with an insurance adjuster to calculate the total worth of your losses. They may come and assess the damage on your property and conduct an investigation into the damages; this is totally normal and part of the process after a wildfire damages or destroys your property.
Ultimately, the insurance company may devalue your claim and not offer adequate coverage. That’s when you might need the assistance of wildfire damage lawyers.
Property Damage Attorney Assistance
A wildfire damage lawyer can contact the insurance companies and advocate on your behalf to negotiate a fair settlement. All of the damage you documented and the information you gathered for your wildfire claim could also be useful to a property damage attorney.
Lawyers who are experienced in wildfire destruction and property damage claims will know how to evaluate the extent of the damage and understand the value of your claim. They can support you every step of the way and make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.
At Phillips Law Group, our team can represent your interests during a fire damage insurance claim. We will make sure you are advocated for and properly compensated for your losses.
Please contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation if you have suffered substantial personal injuries or property loss after a fire. We are ready to help.
Additional Information on Maui Wildfire Assistance
If you are looking to help victims of the Maui wildfires or need assistance yourself, we’ve gathered just a few resources that can hopefully be of service.
The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency currently recommends the Maui Strong Fund, run by the Hawai’i Community Foundation, and the American Red Cross of Hawaii to assist those impacted by the Maui fires.
Plus, the Maui Food Bank is accepting donations to pay for meals for displaced residents, and the Maui Humane Society is looking for contributions to support care for pets displaced by the Maui wildfires.
Our thoughts are with those affected by the Maui fires and all those impacted by devastating wildfires.
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