Contact your insurance company
It’s important to contact your insurance company right away to get the claims process started.
If you have an inventory of your possessions, provide it to your insurer along with any receipts or photos. If you don’t have one, take photos of damaged household items, ensuring to record detailed descriptions. Also record their estimated value and model (or serial) numbers, if applicable.
If your insurance company requires a fire report, you can request one from the fire and emergency services unit that responded to your emergency.
Find a temporary place to stay
Your insurance policy will likely cover the additional living expenses related to acquiring a temporary shelter, but if you can’t find a hotel room right away and bunking up with family or friends isn’t an option, your closest Canadian Red Cross office may be able to guide you to emergency lodging services in your community.
Gather emergency clothing and essentials
Most insurance policies will cover your out-of-pocket costs for emergency clothing and essentials. Be sure to keep a detailed record of all purchases to ensure your claims process runs smoothly, including receipts. The Canadian Red Cross or Salvation Army may be able to assist you with finding clothes for your family.
Confirm you can re-enter your home
Prior to re-entering your home, confirm with the fire department that it’s safe to do so. It’s essential to make sure it’s safe as potential dangers may not always be visible. If there’s an ongoing investigation, you may need to obtain permission from the fire marshal’s office.
Make sure your house is secured against further damage. Try to board up broken windows and doors, and cover holes in the roof and exterior walls. If you need help, hire a contractor that specializes in fire and water damage restoration – your insurance company may be able to recommend someone. If you do have insurance coverage, it’s important to get expert direction to ensure your safety.
Gather important documents
After a house fire, it’s important to collect and preserve your important documents. If you’re unsure what documents need to be saved, you may wish to contact a lawyer.
Try to gather or replace the following:
- Passports and social insurance numbers (contact Service Canada if you need a replacement)
- Birth certificates and proof of provincial health insurance (contact your provincial issuing agency)
- Mortgage documents and deeds
- Insurance policies
- Credit and debit cards
Clean your home
Before you start cleaning your home, contact your insurance company and ask if your policy covers the cost of a fire restoration specialist who can assist with the clean-up. Your insurer and any restoration experts will be able to provide direction on the sorting and cleaning of contents.
Take care of your family's mental health
Taking care of your family’s mental health after a fire is just as important as rebuilding your home. Remember: You’re not alone.
You can find mental health and wellbeing resources through The Red Cross, the Public Health Agency of Canada or any provincial / territorial health authority website.
Take care of your pets
Have your pets checked by a veterinarian as soon as possible. Their lungs may have been damaged by smoke, and they may be suffering from burns not immediately visible.
If you cannot find your pet after a fire, check nearby spots where they may be hiding. If they don’t turn up, contact your local animal shelter to let them know they’re missing.
The information and advice in this article are provided for informational purposes only. The Personal shall not be liable for any damages arising from any reliance upon such information or advice. The Personal recommends using caution and consulting an expert for comprehensive and tailored advice.
The terms and conditions of the coverages described are set out in the insurance policy, which always prevails. Certain conditions, limitations and exclusions may apply.
The Personal refers to The Personal General Insurance Inc.