We all wish there was a simple answer to this question. After a loss there are a dozen things that all need to be done at once in addition to the full life you had before the fire. In reality, the best first thing to do is to come to the realization that you are not an insurance expert and be open to learning.
Once you are ready to learn, find a great resource. It is our hope that you can use our website as that resource. Not only do we have a great, free eBook "A Survivor's Guide to Insurance" we also have lots of other information that can be of help such as the Handout section.
To better answer the question, I will pick 5 things I think are of most help early on in the recovery process.
- The Ultimate Goal is to gather enough information to value your claim as accurately and thoroughly as possible and to collect all of the money owed to you by the insurance company.
- Get a copy of your insurance policy and start getting familiar with it by reading it over and over again.
- Start a claim diary where you write down all of the interactions you're having with your insurance company and others related to the recovery process (government officials, contractors, etc.)
- Start your personal property inventory now.
- Take the money from the insurance company. Money that comes to you is not to be considered payment in full unless that fact is explicitly stated in the paperwork you receive with the check. DO take the money, but DO NOT sign a release on the spot, including a Proof of Loss. If a release or a Proof of Loss is presented to you, take it with you and read it over thoroughly before signing. Even better would be to take it to an insurance expert for review.