Where Do You Go When Your House Is Destroyed In A Fire?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A fire is something for which most homeowners have insurance, but many don’t know the specifics of the policy such as where they would go if their home was destroyed. Fire policies should contain specific language to address such an event and while insurers should explain that language to policyholders; the truth is that few seldom do.

According to Bob Scott, a partner with the Advocate Law Group who has been practicing insurance law for over 30 years, “The terms loss of use or additional living expense mean that the insurance company is going to pay for you to live in a ‘like quality’ residence while they’re redoing your house. In other words, you’ve got to live someplace else because your house has got fire damage. That’s a very important thing that is never explained thoroughly in all the cases that we see.”

Just buy the policy…

Many insurers, and brokers, simply want to sell you a policy and bank on the fact that consumers will not ask questions about insurance concepts that might be over their heads. It’s a bad practice, but it happens all the time. Scott thinks it’s wrong. “I think the big picture here is that the insurer never takes the time to explain to the insured at the front end of a loss, ‘Here are the different lines of coverage. Here’s how they all work. Here’s what you’re going to get out of it.’ They never explain depreciation versus replacement value, or any of the coverages, so the insured knows that you don’t have to go to a thrift store or a second-hand store to go buy new clothes.

Many don’t know it, but you can go to any store you want. Obviously, you shouldn’t go to the downtown Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, but you should go to a Nordstrom’s or somewhere else where you would shop, buy clothes that you need and the insurance company will pay you back. They seem to never want to explain to you what rights you have under the policy. They try to limit all under the auspice of saving a buck.”

Get the details

If your insurer glosses over the details of the policy, ask for clarification. While you may trust that your insurer has your best interests at heart, chances are they don’t. Knowing what is covered and what isn’t covered in the case of a fire is extremely important – especially if your policy burns with the house. You’ll have to go somewhere immediately to live and purchase new clothes to boot. If you know what’s covered now, you’ll know what to do later.

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