Skip to content

How to assess material fire damage when the flames reach the home? | Legal

So far this year more than 220,000 hectares have been destroyed by fire in Spain, according to the European Forest Fire Information System. A fact that makes our country the largest burnt area in the territory of Europe. Navarra, Zamora, Cáceres, Ourense and Lugo suffered the most serious fires.

A wave of fires that forced hundreds of people to evict from their homes. As firefighters work to douse the flames, it is clear that many are wondering what happens to the houses that the flames have reached and how those damages are valued.

One of the keys in such a situation, regardless of whether the fire was intentional or not by third parties, is to check if we have insurance and if the policy includes fire cover.

In Spain, mortgaged houses must have home insurance, so fire cover is likely to be included, even if it has minimal cover. In this case, the details of the cover will depend on what was contracted with the company. This can include the continent (the house), the contents (the value of things hit or missing), the vehicle that was in the garage, the restoration works to repair the fire damage and even the garden the fire affected him. In addition, in principle, it will cover damage related to fire, dust and smoke. Of course, the damage will not be covered if the fire is caused by intent or gross negligence on the part of the insured.

The expert will be in charge of assessing and identifying the damage caused by the flames, and determining and analyzing the causes to make an economic quantification of those that caused the fire. As a preliminary step, the insured must notify the insurer of the claim within a maximum period of seven days after becoming aware of it, unless a longer period is established in the policy, as specified in the law of the contract insurance. Of course, this effect will not occur if it is proven that the insurer had knowledge of the claim by other means. In addition, the insured must provide the insurer with all kinds of information about the circumstances and consequences of the claim. In this type of event it is advisable not to touch anything and take pictures.

When the loss has occurred, and within a period of five days from the aforementioned scheduled notice, the insured must notify the insurer in writing of the list of items that were present at the time of the loss, the list of items saved and the estimate of the loss. damage. In this sense, it must be taken into account that the proof that the things exist in advance is on the insured. However, the content of the policy will be a presumption in favor of the insured when reason cannot provide more effective evidence, as happens in the case that the house burned down as a result of the calls.

If there is an agreement regarding the amount and form of compensation, the insurer must pay the agreed amount or carry out the necessary operations to replace the insured object. However, if no agreement is reached, each party appoints an expert.

There may be circumstances in which the two experts reach an agreement, which will be reflected in a joint record, which will contain the causes of the loss, the valuation of the damages, the other circumstances that influence the determination of the compensation, according to the nature. of the insurance in question and the net amount of the intended compensation.

When there is no agreement between the experts, both parties will nominate a third expert in proportion. If it does not exist, a file may be promoted in the manner provided for in the Civil Jurisdiction law or notarial legislation.

Another situation that may occur is that the party in question does not have contracted fire cover or that damages cannot be claimed from the cause of the fire. In this case, you will not be able to claim compensation. There is only one exception. And it is because of the extraordinary situation and how serious the fire is, that the Government allows assistance to those who have been affected.

Albert Galán Llonguerasfounding partner of the Official Judicial Expert

Start investing your money in cryptocurrencies and get Free Bitcoin when you buy or sell 100$ or more if you register in Coinbase