Tips To Salvage Your Paper Money And Coins After A Fire

A fire can cause great damage to bills and coins. Maybe you had cashed your paycheck and had the bills in your purse. Or maybe you've been keeping a cash emergency fund stashed in a box at home. Whatever the case, here's what you need to know about recovering the value of your money:

Paper currency

If your bills are damaged but more than one half of each is obviously intact, you'll probably be able to exchange them at your local bank. The face value of the bill also has to be able to be easily determined.

In other cases, your money may have suffered even more damage. If you have less than one-half of a bill or its denomination can't be easily determined, you'll need to send it to the Department of the Treasury's Bureau of Engraving and Printing by registered mail, return receipt requested. It's also a good idea to insure it. Include a letter explaining how it was damaged and, if possible documentation that supports what happened to the money, such as paperwork from your insurance company. Also include its estimated value.

Handle the currency as little as possible. If it was in a box or other container such as a purse, leave it in there if at all possible. If you absolutely have to remove it, be as careful as possible and also send the container in case any tiny fragments of the bills are attached. Even if you think the fragments are too small to help, you might be wrong. Employees at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing carefully examine bills for anything they can identify, such a pattern or other small details. They handle about 30,000 claims each year and recover about $30 million annually.         .

Send your currency to:

Department of Treasury
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Room 344A
Washington, D.C. 20013.

To check on the status of your claim, call 866-575-2361.


You may also have coins that suffered fire damage. They may be melted together or bent as a result of high temperatures. Don't mail them in with your paper currency, because they need to be sent to the U.S. Mint. As with currency, send them registered mail, return receipt requested, and also purchase insurance.

Send your coins to:

United States Mint
Independence Mall
P.O. Box 400
Philadelphia, PA 19105

Generally, the process takes six to eight weeks. If you want to check on the status of your claims, call the Mint at 215-408-0203.

You don't get the face value of the coins. Instead, the Mint will assess their value based on the weight and type of metal used.

If the coins are collectible, check with your insurance company to see if they are covered under your homeowner's insurance or any additional policy (a "rider") you may have purchased.

Don't assume that your money has literally gone up in smoke after extensive fire damage. With a little extra care, you may be able to recover more of its value than you think. 

There's a lot to do after a house fire. You need to call a fire and smoke damage restoration company to care for your home, and the restoration can be expensive. If you've lost paper or coin monies during the fire, see what you can do to get them restored as well. It might make the financial burden a bit lighter.