Last week, many families in the Reno, Nevada, area were unable to celebrate Thanksgiving in their homes due to the epic wildfire which raged through Caughlin Ranch the week prior. News reports stated that the fire was the “perfect storm” of conditions where wind gusts up to 70 miles per hour resulted in flames up to 100 feet tall, which burnt through nearly 2,000 acres and destroyed 32 homes.

Fortunately, praises have gone out to the insurance community from the Insurance Commissioner, Scott Kipper. He stated that insurance carriers have responded quickly to this disaster. Kipper also urged Reno residents affected by the Caughlin Ranch fire to contact the Nevada Division of Insurance if they have questions about insurance or need assistance with insurance claims.

Picking up the pieces of your life after the loss of a home or even knowing where to start the cleanup of soot and ash damage is difficult. Getting outside help and another perspective is advisable. As insureds begin filing their claims, they may find they are asked to make extensive inventory lists, produce receipts to show ownership of items destroyed, or prove that soot and ash actually damaged their home. How does one even quantify the worth of their personal property in their home? If I were asked to quantify the value of my possessions while they are still here, finding a place to start would be tough. At a time that is already stressful, such a task may be overwhelming.

Take the Insurance Commissioner’s advice and get help. Contact the Nevada Division of Insurance and if you need help navigating your insurance claim. If you want more help, contact a licensed public adjuster who can be your advocate to negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company.

The next year will be a difficult process in rebuilding and making sure you receive all of the benefits you paid for. You have a right to obtain a copy of your insurance policy. Ask for it in writing. Keep in mind that every state has a statute of limitations, which will terminate your ability to file a lawsuit if your insurance company does not fulfill the insurance contract. Your policy may dictate when a lawsuit can be filed and steps you must take before filing. If you are having trouble, seek legal advice well before the statute of limitations.

We all hear about persons going into communities after a disaster offering to perform work at a cut rate if money is provided upfront. Check the credentials of contractors, adjusters, or other persons and make sure they are licensed and experienced in fire claims or restoration. For contractors and others performing work on your home, visit the Better Business Bureau to see how they are rated or if they have reviews. Essentially, be cautious and inform your insurance company of what work is needed to get you back into the position you were in before the wildfire hit.