Have you had to file a fire insurance claim, and now you are dealing with the effects of smoke and soot in the rest of your home? Read on for our five tips on dealing with smoke damage insurance claims.
Tip 1 – Document the Damage
Every home insurance policy will cover fire damage to some extent, but in order to get reimbursed for the losses you experience after a fire, you need to make sure you can prove to the insurance company that you need all the money you are asking for in your smoke damage insurance claim.
It is crucial after the fire occurs that you thoroughly document the damage to your property. A shortlist of what you should include about your property is as follows:
1. Date of the loss (the date the fire occurred)
2. Type of loss or damage (fire, soot, smoke, water, etc.)
3. Location of damage – be as thorough as you can be here, whether the fire was confined to the kitchen or spread through several rooms, it will affect your claim.
4. Any injuries that occurred to you or your family members as a result of the fire.
5. If anyone else was involved in the fire (family members, guests, etc.)
6. Condition of the home – will you be required to relocate for a period of time, or is the scorched drywall from a stove fire something you can live with until repairs are made?
7. Description of damaged contents – describe any and all possessions that were burned, melted, or otherwise damaged by the heat or soot from the fire.
8. Temporary repairs or complete replacements as necessary.
9. Police and Fire Department reports
Tip 2 – File Your Claim
There may be a specified time where you have to inform your insurance company of your loss, so make sure to act in a timely manner.
In the months following the filing of a claim, you will have long exchanges of emails and documents with your insurance company. Make sure you have copies of EVERYTHING. Invest in a three-ring binder, print out your emails and file them with copies of your policy and any reports obtained from the police and fire department, along with photos of your possessions (preferably taken before the fire claim was necessary).
If you have the ability, digitally back up any files you only had physical copies of. Most smartphones are capable of creating PDFs of documents, and cloud storage are only a few dollars a month for the peace of mind that your information is stored safely.
Tip 3 – Understand the Extent of What Your Insurance Covers
A typical policy retained by a homeowner will cover damage from wind, fire, and lightning. If your home was destroyed, the insurance company will be obligated to pay up to the limit of the policy to rebuild your home. Additionally, they will pay to replace anything inside the home that was damaged by the flame itself, or secondary damage under your smoke damage insurance claim.
Smoke damage can affect nearly everything in your home, but it can be difficult to spot at first. Many of your possessions may have to be disposed of, even if they don’t look badly damaged. The ugly damage of a blackened wall or ceiling is easy to see, but more insidious damage may not be obvious, like soot in your air vents or carpets that have absorbed ash and can release harmful compounds back into the air over time.
What about when your home suffers smoke damage from a fire that was not inside your homes, such as a natural disaster or a fire that started in your neighbor’s house? These are typically handled on a case-by-case basis and you should ask your insurance company for guidance with your smoke damage insurance claim.
Tip 4 – Pay for Professional Cleaners
After you document the damage and begin the process of your fire insurance claim, you should hire a team of professionals to clean up the smoke and soot damage in your home, because it is unsafe for you to do it yourself.
Many insurance companies will pay for this type of cleaning and remediation but always check. The compounds released when household items burn can be hazardous to your health, and professional cleaners have specialized equipment to protect them while they work.
In extreme cases, the house may need to be deodorized with ozone, or insulation may need to be replaced.
Tip 5 – Enlist the Help of a Public Adjuster
While public adjusters may not be necessary for all circumstances if your claim is over $10,000 it may be worth hiring one. Your insurance company will pay you the absolute minimum they can get away with, and a public adjuster will be on your side throughout the process, help you file your claim, and argue for what you are entitled to.
Why You Need to Contact Continental Public Adjusters:
Continental Public Adjusters is proud to serve the entire state of Florida in handling property claims, and they have the experience to help you get the most out of your policy.
If you have a new property claim, or even worse if your claim is denied, delayed, or underpaid, you need an experienced public adjuster.
Continental Public Adjusters will do five key things for you:
1. Advocate: Our sole responsibility is to make sure you receive the maximum recovery for your loss.
2. Review: A comprehensive investigation helps us understand each specific type of loss. With our experts and consultants, we begin to determine the overall value of your property loss.
3. Estimate: Using the latest cost estimating software to prepare supporting documentation and provide it to your carrier.
4. Adjust: We will adjust your claim and negotiate with your insurance company adjuster to reach a settlement meeting your approval, in your best interest.
5. Maximize: We can foresee issues and obstacles in the claims process with the experience that comes from settling thousands of claims, and will work to reach your maximum benefit.
Start with a free consultation with one of our team members to learn about your options. Continental Public Adjusters, Inc. has 38 years of experience successfully settling thousands of claims related to both personal and commercial property in the state of Florida.