Neighbor almost burned my house down. Go through my insurance or theirs directly? With Pics

Neighbor almost burned my house down. Go through my insurance or theirs directly? With Pics


The answer here is really easy - though most people don’t do it.


Here is why. All insurances companies look to mitigate damages. They are not on your side.

Okay, so you say, well my insurance company can go through subrogation… right? They can collect from the negligent party’s insurance company. Easy-peasy… They can, but when they send out an insurance adjustor or hire any professional to do an assessment - it will always, I mean always be less than an professional hired by your attorney.

Do yourself a favor… Don’t believe your insurance has your best interests in mind…

They don’t. Even when you aren’t remotely at fault.


I had a visual inspection no written estimate yet from a company SERVPRO. The guy who looked at it thought the cleaning (exterior brick, possible attic corner, and maybe inside corner of wall) would probably be ~$2500 range and probably at least that much in repairs. Thought after removing the trim 2x4, the siding will show damage and need to replace at least near the end. The corner trim on house eave also needs to be replaced/repaire (on closer inspection the wood looks damaged /bubbling).

Network attorney (prepaid legal plan) advised the same course I was planning. Advised me NOT to call my own insurance Co at all. Call neighbor’s insurance directly for liability claim, they’ll probably send out adjustor to look at damage, handle claim thru them directly since it’s clearly liability. Last week was hectic (other stuff). Plan tomorrow is pickup fire report (just cause I want to see it). Talk with neighbor again (coordinate of they already had an adjustor out, as she said she already called her insurance on that day, and then call neighbor’s insurance Co. directly.


Thanks for following up on your thread @Bend3r. Please keep us in the loop on how things play out.


Servpro had a “construction estimator” come by today. Not sure I’m sold on this company, gonna try to find another first. Supposed to get an estimate ~next wednesday.
The things pointed out to repair were different and made somewhat less sense to me than the things the first guy pointed out.
And as a non expert, some of it also seemed excessive (repaint whole back of house, unless i misunderstood what was said)… But I could be wrong.
Gonna wait for the estimate but try to get at least another opinion from somewhere else to see how they match or not.


Do you have to pay for companies to come out and provide estimates?


It obviously costs money, like anything. Either they charge separately or it’s built into their inflated rates. Servpro is a giant franchise, so it may vary between locations (same as quality, which I’m not sure how to reasonably assess.). The one that came out did not charge for estimate if scheduled within 9-4pm M-F. Or ~$200 to schedule anything outside of 9-4pm.


Get at least two more. I found Servpro to be hit or miss on quality, but always high on prices. If you’ve got a semi-regular handyman, maybe he can quote, or refer you to someone if it’s over his capabilities.

Just a reminder to make regular, written notes, even things that seem mundane. A little bit of extra work now can be incredibly beneficial if things turn ugly.


Yeah the insurance or direct insnt figured out yet. It’s a pain looking for contractors. Asking around I’ve got nothing really. My main concern is what actual (permanent cosmetic or non cosmetic damage) there is to fix. I can’t really find fire cleaning for the brick but maybe it clean easily. I’m currently looking for possibly separate window, brick, paint/trim, and fence. But that all takes time.


A friend purchased a foreclosed home that had graffiti sprayed on the brick. It had gotten into the brick pretty well. He was out once a month with a pressure washer and various chemicals. After about a dozen times, you could only see it if you knew where to look and had a good imagination.

So, it looks like your neighbor should at least buy you a pressure washer for the brick - minimum 4k psi and a Honda 13hp engine. Of course, they then might owe you for a garage expansion to store it. :slight_smile:


Do you own a pressure washer? I think the soot from the fire should just pressure wash off the brick. If you don’t have a pressure washer, you can try renting one from Home Depot or Lowes.


Is this the “that’ll just buff out” for cars equivalent? Sure, I could rent one. If I, unskilled at pressure washing, push the acidic soot deeper into the brick, or blast water into my walls that gets stuck there and causes mold, or… Any unknowns, then that would all be on me if I went that route. Whereas a fully licensed bonded and insured contractor may be liable for damages caused by improper repair.

Also on thread, no real developments yet. May get more or less “interesting” and have some updates soon.


I think you are giving yourself less credit than you deserve. A lot of these contracting jobs require rather little actual skill & training, and more grit. If you read the operating instructions for a pressure washer, you will be ahead of most people that do it for a living, at least from a training perspective. :slightly_smiling_face:

You may be surprised that a lot of fully licensed, bonded & insured contractors will in a lot of cases just hire people off the street and hand them the equipment and tell them to get to work.


Why should op do any work on this? I wouldn’t do my own repairs if my neighbor is at fault.


Muriatic acid is the recommended cleaning method for soot on brick.


The real issue is, why do it yourself when the neighbor’s insurance is paying for a professional to do it? If you can get a full check based on just estimates, then pocket the savings from doing it yourself, then sure. But he’s not to that point yet.


Not going to go into “resolution” details, but I just wanted to update on lessons learned. I would do things differently if I could re-do, and do differently than the suggestions I had.

The only way to be made whole would be NOT to involve your own insurance or your own expense. But there’s other variables, as well as time and sanity.

What I would do if it occurred again:

  1. Call my insurance. If over deductible, possibly take it even though it’s low borderline size(in this case). Fix everything. Present bill (deductible in this case IF insurance payment taken, otherwise actual repair costs and any diminished value if applicable) to the liable party. Go lower/ not everything if reasonable. Else sue if non-small amount, get lien against house.

The smaller not-at-fault claim from negligent neighbors was something I didn’t count on when setting deductibles. A lower deductible might make sense to intentionally throw a little extra money away to make the edge cases less.

Also, positives from Amica experience:
The independent adjuster they sent was great. They also made available payment approved pretty immediately and no fighting on anything the adjuster included. I did not take payment (maybe should have) as it was not much above deductible.
Negative review of Amica is I think I was lied to that no claim would be against me if I didn’t accept payment, and I could still decide. The terms of HOI says you MUST inform them of any possible claim or any future insurance is basically null and void, so I was under obligation to inform them. I suspect sending the adjuster made it “count” as an actual claim anyways even though they insisted that it would only be a claim if I decided to go through with payment, although of course the value/losses reported is pretty low. I should probably request the insurance claims report from bureau(s) ( is that Clue? ). If I had to do it again, and I had amica, I still would have called them out to look and probably went through with all above and ended up suing in this case.


Thanks for the update. A lot depends on amounts and relationship with neighbor but I liked your first-hand insight into all the issues involved.


Ended up suing? Has your neighbor not stepped up?


No I was saying if I went back i would have instead done a, resulting in b, likely resulting in c. And just guessing on that c.