Photo by Roselyn Tirado on Unsplash
You had a fire or flood in your home. Now you’re thinking about trying to fix the damage without telling your insurance company so that your rates don’t go up.
In my experience, most homeowners have this moment after a loss event. It’s fine to think about it—but I would say, don’t think too long, as your insurance policy will require you to report a loss like this right away.
You will also not be allowed to start the repairs on your own in a “see how it goes” type of way and report the claim later if your repairs aren’t working out as planned.
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Many people think their home insurance claim will result in the insurance company fixing everything related to a specific problem or incident. That’s likely not true. Normally, an insurance policy only covers the repairs that are a result of the fire or the flood; it does not cover fixing the cause of the fire or the flood—for example, faulty wiring that caused a fire, or a frozen pipe that burst may not be covered in your payout from a house insurance claim.
If you had a fire that was extinguished with a firehose, you will also be dealing with a flood—a significant flood. Once a firehose is involved, the water damage might even be a bigger issue than the fire damage. (If you’ve seen a firehose running in person, you know that they move a shocking volume of water.) The good news is that the water damage from putting out the fire should be included in the same claim.
The repair cost for even a small fire will be significant, so it’s likely you won’t consider covering them on your own for very long.
If you are a landlord, your tenant’s renters insurance may cover the repairs, keeping you claims-free. Tenants insurance isn’t mandatory (unless you enforce it), so if they don’t have insurance, you have the option of electing to sue them for the damage or claiming against your own insurance. Just be aware that it might be hard to collect on a judgement obtained against your tenant.
Scott Hawryliw is a civil litigation lawyer with SRH Litigation in Barrie, Ont. He helps clients with legal problems related to injuries, employment and business issues, and can be reached at [email protected]
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