What to do after a house fire

Whether your home was destroyed or partially damaged in a fire, the experience can have a long-lasting mental and financial impact on you and your family. In the aftermath of a house fire, it's important to ensure family members, including pets, are safe and have temporary shelter if needed. You should file a claim with your insurer as soon as possible to avoid delays in making your home habitable again.

4 min to read

Tips for what to do after a house fire

Find shelter

If a house fire has damaged your home extensively, you need to secure a safe place for you and your family to stay. You might stay with a family member or friend or in a hotel. If none of these are viable options, connect with your local Red Cross chapter for help.

Take care of family pets

Once you've secured shelter and ensured your loved ones are safe, have your pets checked out by a veterinarian. They'll likely be scared and disoriented, so take time to comfort them. That can help in your mental recovery, too.

Contact your agent or insurer

Whether your house suffered minor damage or destruction, you should contact your insurance provider as soon as possible to get the claims process started. Your insurer will assign an adjuster to review the damage, determine coverage, and work with you to arrange repairs.

Collect supporting materials and documents

Before your insurer can create an estimate that outlines how much repairs will cost and factor in deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs, they'll need more information. Be prepared to submit photographs and videos of the fire damage, including the dwelling and any personal belongings (assuming it's safe to enter your home).

Remember to keep copies of everything you share with your insurer. Your insurance adjuster will set up time with you to inspect your home for insurance and for personal property. Learn more about the property claims process at Progressive. Learn more about fire safety inspections.

Notify the proper authorities

Begin by reaching out to your local police department and let them know if you've had to leave the property unattended because of a house fire. Next, connect with your utility companies to temporarily stop service. If you have children, check in with their teachers and principals so those individuals can provide additional support and resources.

Begin repairs

Be sure to collect and keep all receipts related to the repairs. Hold on to damaged items until your insurance adjuster has had a chance to assess your home and property. If a fire has completely damaged your house and you must stay elsewhere, retain receipts of all additional expenses incurred. That includes lodging, food, basic living expenses, and even temporary boarding of pets because you may have coverage for such expenses. Learn more about loss of use coverage and personal property coverage.

Focus on your well-being

Whether a house fire is minor or catastrophic, it's a traumatic event that often leaves everyone involved with a lost sense of safety, anxiety, and possibly even depression.

After you've secured a place to stay, check in with loved ones impacted by the experience. Although recovery can take time, there are specific things you and your family can do to help cope, such as:

  • Get plenty of rest
  • Return to as many daily routines as possible
  • Accept help from others
  • Do something enjoyable and stress-free as a family

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