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Frequently Asked Questions


After personally experiencing a residential fire and seeing the difficulty residents in Fort McMurray had after the wild fires, we felt that it was essential to make some information available to anyone going through a home insurance claim, be it a fire, flood or other type of disaster. There are many important lessons that we have learned over the years and this Home Insurance Claim Guide is part of our commitment to being an active advocate for the insured across Canada. In this package, you will find:

  • Checklists for the claims process
  • Terms and definitions
  • Frequently asked questions


We actively post home insurance claim tips, as well as noteworthy articles, on our Facebook page. Stay informed and up to date by checking out our page.


When you call us, we’ll take the time to learn about your situation and let you know how we can help you receive a fair settlement.


Starting the Recovery Process in a Timely Fashion

It’s natural to want things to get moving as quickly as possible if your home has been damaged by a fire. The sooner you get back to normal life, the better. Moving things forward in a timely fashion is important and can save you a lot of money, but there are a few things you should know before you start.

Fire Safety Tips in the Winter

Follow these fire safety tips for the season and be proactive against having to file a house fire insurance claim in the first place. During higher risks seasons like the holidays, it’s always a good idea to take extra precautions for the safety of your family and your home.

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Experiencing a fire or flood is often overwhelming and there are hundreds of questions that need answers. This FAQ section is here to help answer some of those questions for you. We have included General Questions, FAQs regarding Contents, ALE, and Structure, FAQs about Virani Law, and you can also submit your own question.


A wide variety of problems can occur between the insurer and the policyholder such as:

  • Delays (poor communication on behalf of the insurer)
  • Disagreement regarding what constitutes an “additional living expense”
  • Over depreciation of “personal contents”
  • Disagreement regarding whether the structural damage should result in a repair or rebuild job
  • Being underinsured (not having enough coverage)

These issues often force individuals and families to settle for less.

Once you your family are physically stable, you should immediately ask your insurer for a cash advance to alleviate any financial stress. They should be able to provide this to you right away. It is also imperative to keep all your receipts so that the insurance company has documentation for the funds they need to provide to you. We also recommend that you record the early conversations with your adjuster as it can be useful for your records later on in the claims’ process.

For other general tips visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/viranilaw

The bulk of your claim (Contents and most ALEs) should take anywhere from three to six months to resolve depending on the size of the claim. You should not be in a hurry to close the claim, as some damages remain unknown until you are back into your residence.
The cost of your personal contents after depreciation has been deducted from the item in question.
A specified amount of that you must pay before the insurance company will payout your claim. It is important to read and understand the fine print in your policy. Sometimes with a residential loss, the deductible can be waived.  
Liability coverage protects you if you are at fault, or if an accident occurs, and damage is caused to someone else’s property.
After a residential loss, certain rebuilding requirements may be needed due to the changes in bylaws over time. The insurer is responsible for rebuilding the home you had under the “Structure” coverage. Abiding by new bylaws can be costly and this is where this type of coverage can be valuable.
The insurance adjuster may come from the insurance company, or they may hire an outside company with adjusters to assist you. In both cases, the adjuster is working for the insurance company.
In general your premiums should not increase due to a claim. However, if you were receiving some type of discount because you had never made a claim, your premiums may increase. Certain major policy changes could cause your premiums to go up as well. For example, home insurance premiums in general will increase for those living in areas susceptible to wild fires. Our best advice is to shop around if you are unhappy with your new rates.  
When you receive your declaration page, it will have your coverage limits for various areas that you are insured. It is very important to understand the limits so that you or your family are not out of pocket due to your residential loss and displacement. Read more about understanding your declaration page here.
This is dependent on what type of home you live in.

If you live in an apartment or condominium, the housing structure will likely be insured by the Strata Company. Your insurance will cover your personal property such as furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, etc.

If you live in a house, the housing structure will be insured as well as any detached structures, such as a shed. Your personal property will also be insured.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada acts on behalf of Canada’s insurance members. The majority of their funding comes from the insurance companies that homeowners often have issues with. They are not a neutral body. They are also not a governmental body that overseas the behaviour of insurance companies. This is a common misconception of policyholders when issues arise with home insurance claims.
Contact your insurance company or the broker who sold you your policy and ask for your declaration page, as well as the full version of the policy. The declaration page is typically 1-2 pages, whereas the full version can range from 5-20 pages.
If you do not agree with the conclusions of the adjuster, you can attempt to speak to a supervisor, however that rarely changes the outcome. Our recommendation is to begin the dispute process (see our dispute process article) or to speak to Virani Law to see how we may be able to assist.
Your existing policy remains in place for its duration.


ALEs are a type of insurance included within home insurance policies. ALE coverage reimburses the insured for the cost of maintaining a comparable standard of living. These are expenses above and beyond the insured’s normal expenditures.
A list of personal contents that were damaged or destroyed due to a residential loss.
The cost of your personal contents after depreciation has been deducted from the item in question. The insurer will likely offer you this amount up front, forcing you to replace all the damaged items to receive the rest of your coverage. 
An agreement between the insured and insurer where the insured receives a lump sum of money for contents, ALEs, or the structure of your home. Often, this is the most useful for families as there are fewer restrictions around how to spend the money you receive.
Most individuals or families that are displaced rent a comparable living residence to stay until their home is ready for them. Immediately after the fire, you should stay in a hotel. If you stay with a friends or family, the insurance company should compensate you or them fairly.
If the home is deemed safe you can re-enter to get anything you may need. Any items that are removed should be photographed and documented; otherwise the insurer may not compensate you for your loss.
Any money spent on restoration will come from your contents coverage. Depending on your situation, sometimes it is better not to proceed with restoration costs. Read more about this in our restoration process article.

This means the insurer will pay for you to replace the personal contents that were lost. However, this can be particularly taxing on a family that has lost a great deal. Read more about handling this in our “Replacement Cost” article.

Each insurer will operate differently. Most have a list of contractors they will utilize for a repair or rebuild job. However, you can certainly have some say in the process.
You should contact your insurance adjuster and let them know of the damage. Take photos for your records. At which point, the insurer will likely get your clothes dry-cleaned. However, this may not be the best option and you can read more about this in our dry cleaning article.
At any time, as a policy holder, if you make renovations to your home it is prudent to let the insurer know to ensure the upgrades are included in your coverage. Technically, in the event of a residential claim, the insurer is only responsible for providing you the home that you insured. For example, if you replaced your carpeting with hardwood floors, the insurer may not rebuild your home with hardwood floors. It is always best to let the insurer know of any major changes to your home.
You should inform your insurer that the items are still not “restored.” The issue that can arise here is that money has been ill advisedly spent on restoration rather than replacement. These items should then go onto your schedule of loss and claimed as non-restorable items.


The most common mistakes families make occur early on in the claims process. Having Virani Law explain your rights and interpret your policy from the outset can save you a tremendous amount of stress, while ensuring your financial compensation is fair. Remember the insurance adjuster is representing the insurance company and they want to minimize their financial exposure. Virani Law levels the playing field.
Your insurance adjuster’s responsibility is to work in the best interest the insurance company. Remember the insurance company is a profit-making business. They may caution against a lawyer’s involvement, as they do not want to be questioned about their decision-making process. Strategically, they will carry themselves in a friendly and helpful manner, however part of their job is to save the insurance company money. They will do this by attempting to undervalue your claim using industry tactics.

Having a lawyer by your side legitimizes your claim and does not allow the insurance company to take advantage of you. Insurance claims can be complicated at the best of times, let alone during a time of loss. Having a lawyer explain complicated aspects of your policy, while negotiating in your best interest leads to favourable results.

We will answer many of the general questions you have while overviewing your policy. We will put you on the right path to recover financially. Virani Law opened with one goal in mind: to help families’ recover, resolve, and rebuild. We feel confident that after speaking to us you’ll want us in your corner.
Several different legal fee structures are available to our clients. We realize that you have suffered a loss and you do not want to receive a large legal bill. You will also have many questions, we are not your traditional law firm that bills for every email, phone call or other form of communication. Having been through this situation personally, we know what it is like. We only bill for the value we can add to your claim, which will exceed any bill you may receive. Read more in our testimonial section about how families have received twice the amount of the original offer due to our involvement and expertise.

Our clients have the ability to pay an hourly rate or on a contingency fee basis. Typically a small percentage of the personal contents portion of the claim covers the majority of your legal bill. Each case is unique, as each client presents us with a different insurance policy. We find an arrangement that works best for the client.

Contact us with your insurance policy for a free consultation to determine how can help you and what it might cost.

We welcome clients to approach us at any stage of their claim. While contacting us early on can help a great deal, we are always willing to discuss how we can help you and what it might cost. If you have received a settlement offer, we can analyze the offer to see if you are getting fair value for your personal property or housing structure. After providing this analysis we can, if applicable, negotiate a higher settlement for you to ensure that you get the money you deserve.
We will answer many of the general questions you have while overviewing your policy. We will put you on the right path to recover financially. Virani Law opened with one goal in mind: to help families’ recover, resolve, and rebuild. We feel confident that after speaking to us you’ll want us in your corner.

More Questions?

If you have a question that is more specific to your situation, or a question that you feel we missed, please submit it to us using this form:

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