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House burned down, what next?
Old 08-16-2009, 08:55 PM   #1
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House burned down, what next?

My neighbor's home just burned and looks like a total loss for sure. They escaped wearing their pajamas. He and his wife have been given money by the Red Cross to stay for 3 nights in a hotel and a credit card type voucher to get basics.

What happens next, do any posters have experience with this type of life changing event. I have no idea about their situation but it seems like dire straits for them.

I did some online surfing and wow, not encouraging.

Any ideas on what I can do to offer some support? Or is insurance a big safety net?

Thanks.
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:02 PM   #2
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Do they have family close?
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:07 PM   #3
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I'm pretty sure they have a couple of relatives in the area but not sure how connected they are. Have never really seen many visitors and nobody that stayed overnight, etc. So I think they are kinda on their own.

EDIT: Gonna logout for tonight. Will check in the morning to see if anyone has any ideas of where/how/if I should pursue helping.
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:10 PM   #4
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Their homeowners insurance should kick in some toward their living expenses and well as help to replace the home and contents. Living expenses should come pretty quick from the insurance company, the money for replacement may take some time until the fire is investigated and reports filed. Hopefully they do have insurance and enough coverage to replace most of what was lost.

Buckeye asked a good question, do they have family close.
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:13 PM   #5
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Were they renters or owners? Hopefully, they had a mortgage so they had to have homeowner's insurance. Typically, it would pay for alternate accommodations until the home is repaired/rebuilt or they get a new one. Same for renter's policy but it's not mandatory like homeowner's insurance when you have a mortgage.
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:15 PM   #6
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This would certainly qualify for the emergency fund and renting an apartment for at least a few months. May be quite a few months if they want to rebuild on that spot.

I've never been burned out, but I've read several times that the first thing to do is to hire an independent claims adjuster to be your advocate against your insurance company.

Another issue with a burned-out property in our neighborhood is securing it from kids & transients. If someone gets injured, even while trespassing, the owners are still likely to have to defend themselves against a lawsuit.
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Old 08-16-2009, 09:26 PM   #7
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An independent claims adjuster is going to ask for about 5 to 10% of the insurance pay out. I would recommend discussions with the insurance company first, if they are hedging on paying what the policy states or trying to short change in anyway then I would recommend the independant claims adjuster.

Most insurance companies will honor the terms of the policy. Unfortunately, a lot of people do not raise their coverage amounts thru the years and after the fire they discover that the banks portion of the house is covered by their policy but their equity may not be. This is because the house has increased in value during their ownership and they didn't think to raise their coverage amounts.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stretch View Post
My neighbor's home just burned and looks like a total loss for sure. They escaped wearing their pajamas. He and his wife have been given money by the Red Cross to stay for 3 nights in a hotel and a credit card type voucher to get basics.

What happens next, do any posters have experience with this type of life changing event. I have no idea about their situation but it seems like dire straits for them.

I did some online surfing and wow, not encouraging.

Any ideas on what I can do to offer some support? Or is insurance a big safety net?

Thanks.
Not enought info Stretch.........

If your neighbor has a first class home owners policy, readily available liquid assets and credit cards with plenty of limits, he's in good shape. Oh, it'll be a pita for several months, but as long as everyone got out uninjured, they'll recover just fine. If the house needed remodeling/updating, etc., they could even wind up better off than before.

If they didn't insure properly, don't have any cash or credit or have special needs that are tough to accomodate while going through all this, then there could be some real issues.

At our house, we carry an expensive, frequently reviewed home owners policy from a name brand insurance company and keep enough liquid assets that, other than the hassle, my only concern over damage to the house is loss of data/records, memorabilia and injury to DW or myself.
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Old 08-16-2009, 10:25 PM   #9
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In our county, Wal-Mart replaces all the lost medications for free. Just need to obtain the prescription if it was not originally filled at Wal-Mart.
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Old 08-17-2009, 09:47 AM   #10
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We went through this in 1991 (Oakland Firestorm).

A big problem they have now is the big load of "things that need to be done." Dealing with insurance, buying things. If you can find a way to let them offload some errands to you, that would help.

Perhaps you can do some of the legwork for finding a rental unit for them. You could do the purchasing of items for them. On one hand, it's hard because they might want to decide what type of, e.g. toaster, to get, but on the other hand there is an "I don't care, any toaster is fine" aspect to it.

Some friends donated a lot of clothing to us to tide us over until we had a chance to go buy new stuff.
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Old 08-17-2009, 10:11 AM   #11
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I would add that you could help in many small ways. Let them use your phone, internet, mailing address. If their cars are destroyed, let them borrow one of yours or offer to give them rides.
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Old 08-17-2009, 01:33 PM   #12
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Canvass local churches for assistance to homeless programs and line up clothes, food, and furniture. Garage sales are a good source of basics like kitchen gadgets, end tables, lamps, small items.
Find a friend with a pickup truck for transport of items and some friends to do carrying.
Take up a neighborhood collection and give them cash.
If there are young kids, a teddy bear or stuffed dog is always a nice gift to bring a smile. I've given teddy bears to unhappy adults also. Result =
Fresh flowers may seem frivolous, but a small flowering potted plant may bring a smile.
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Old 08-17-2009, 02:03 PM   #13
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Lots of great ideas mentioned and I have a reminder for everyone out there. Within the last couple weeks we just finished taking pictures of every room in the house right down to the detail pictures of what's in the display cases. My wife's sewing room was an example of too much to remember. In some cases the digital photo was not enough and we supplemented with written info. You can never provide too much info for insurance purposes. Also reminding you that my homeowners policy has an "ordinance of law" rider. If the house is totally destroyed, it will be replaced in like fashion with upgrades necessary to comply with the latest hurricane standards. Without this clause or rider, you may spend an extra $20k just to add the newest standards required by state law.

Stretch, I can't add anything to what has already been mentioned. The fact that you care is enough to bring out the best in you. I know you'll do what ever is possible, just from the things you mentioned. I just hope they had a good insurance company.
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