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Recovering from a house fire

The Jones Family received alternative accommodation and months of support

Waking up to a smoke filled bedroom marked the beginning of an ordeal which would see the Jones family have to leave their fire damaged home for nine months.

Aside from the immediate dangers that are involved in a house fire, the aftermath can be traumatic — from moving to alternative accommodation to replacing destroyed possessions.

But after returning to their newly refurbished home, the family from Trawsfynydd in north-west Wales say the experience was made much easier to bear thanks to the help they received from us.

Throughout the whole claims process the NFU Mutual office kept in touch with us to ask if there was anything we needed.

Sarah Jones

Mum Sarah Jones described the night of the fire back in early February 2017. “It was my daughter that woke up in the middle of the night and realised she couldn’t see anything because of all the smoke in her bedroom.

“We got up and went downstairs and saw it was the chimney on fire. We stayed downstairs for a couple of hours until we thought everything had died down and then went back to bed at about 2.30am.”

Unfortunately, a crack in the chimney meant the hot embers had ignited the lining and the fire spread to the attic space.

“We heard an almighty gush as the attic caught alight,” said Sarah. “My husband ran upstairs and saw all of the things we had stored in the attic were alight – we had a bed up there which was on fire and the flames were 4ft high.

“Everybody got out of the house and we phoned for the fire brigade.”

The family — including Sarah, her husband Rhodri, their son and daughter Sion and Teleri, and their Jack Russell cross ‘Cymro’ — alerted their neighbours as they feared the fire could spread to the properties either side.

When the fire service came to tackle the blaze, the family stood by watching helplessly.

“We were watching all this happen for about two-and-a-half hours,” said Sarah. “Our neighbours came out and kept bringing us cups of tea. I remember standing out in the street watching all of this happening and feeling that if I didn’t laugh I would cry.”

Contacting NFU Mutual

Sarah and Rhodri took the family to their daughter Manon’s home nearby and wondered what to do next. At about 7am, Rhodri suggested they call their insurer but Sarah said she wanted to wait until her local office at Dolgellau was open at 9am.

“I know them in the office, one of the girls there lives in the village and I appreciate being able to talk directly with them in my own language,” said Welsh speaker Sarah. “Where we live it’s a small community and everybody knows each other. You just feel more comfortable dealing with people who know you and who understand you.”

The call was picked up by our Agent Mair Jones who already knew the family having visited them on several occasions to discuss insurance cover for their farm and groundworks business. In fact, the link between the office and the family has become even stronger since then, as another of Sarah and Rhodri’s daughters, Einir, has been employed as an insurance customer services adviser.

Sarah said: “After calling NFU Mutual they acted really quickly and made sure an assessor was out with us that same afternoon. The assessor came and took a lot of photos and talked us through the process of what would happen next.”

Counting the costs

Extensive damage was caused by the chimney fire — the attic was completely gutted, while there was also significant smoke and water damage to the upstairs bedrooms.

The work to make the home habitable again, which included removing damaged property, repairing and replacing fixtures and fittings, re-plastering the ceilings and relining the chimney, took almost nine months.

The family’s home insurance policy meant they were able to claim for the costs of alternative accommodation. They decided to move in with Rhodri’s mother at the family farm and were given a monthly payment to cover the additional costs.

“Throughout the whole claims process the NFU Mutual office kept in touch with us to ask if there was anything we needed,” said Sarah.

“Even when we were having some difficulty contacting the claims assessor, the NFU Mutual office got onto them and made sure things progressed as they should. It really felt like they were supporting us and had our best interests at heart.”

Happy ending

The house fire was a stressful time for the family and it was particularly hard for the younger members who lost irreplaceable personal possessions, including motorbike trophies, which were stored in the attic.

But Sarah said the efforts made by our team at Dolgellau ensured that stress was kept to a minimum. And having returned home in October 2017 the family can look back on that time without too much anxiety.

“When we eventually were able to move back home it was a really nice moment,” Sarah added. “Everything had been replaced and redecorated — it was like moving into a new house but it quickly became home again.”