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.


  1. 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.
  2. Get a copy of your insurance policy and start getting familiar with it by reading it over and over again.
  3. 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.)
  4. Start your personal property inventory now.
  5. 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.


Inspirational Quotes

Noble souls, through dust and heat, rise from disaster and defeat the stronger.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The resources you provided, and the general meetings for fire survivors that CARe sponsored in our area offered incredible amounts of information. The meetings also gave an opportunity to confer and commiserate with other fire victims and to observe how much your services aided them as well. The open forums gave all victims the opportunity to share experiences so that we could measure our own reality based, progress. The one on one personal consultations with you enabled me to address concerns that were specific to our particular circumstances and added a measure of comfort to the overall, very stressful process. Most importantly, is that the great faith my husband and I had in our insurance company proved to be well founded. Your analytical assessment, based on researched knowledge, was a solid ratification of what the company did for us. We had no doubts about the settlement offer and signed it without hesitation and absolutely no looking back. Thank you again.

Witch Creek Fire Survivor, 2007