Preparing for a Fire and Smoke Damage Claim

June 14, 2018 | Attorney, Matthew Dolman
Preparing for a Fire and Smoke Damage Claim

In the unfortunate event that your home and belongings are damaged by fire and smoke, are you prepared to make a proper home insurance claim?

Fire damage can completely change someone's life. Whether it was one room or an entire house, the effects can feel overwhelming. You may return and find all of your belongings either completely destroyed or heavily damaged. The smoke from these fires builds up and creates a thick covering on nearly everything in your house. All of the installations in your house is likely saturated with smoke, covered in fire foam, and there is probably a need to replace most of, if not all, of your belongings. This article will tell you the steps to take, and how to move forward, following a fire in your home.

What should I do immediately after a fire?

The first thing you should do is always document. If you have homeowners insurance and you want to make a claim against your insurance company for the damage, make sure you call the insurance company and they will set you up with an adjuster. If you have a homeowners insurance policy, it is likely that your losses will be covered by this policy. Typically, homeowners insurance policies cover damage as the result of fire and smoke. Of course, every insurance policy is different but usually, the contents of your home would be covered if they were damaged.

To properly document the damage, you need to make sure you have the date of the fire, what was damaged, the address of the property, photos of the damaged property, and a police report which references the incident.

[Click here for more information about what to do in the aftermath of a home fire.]

Should I have the property repaired?

You most certainly should contact a fire restoration company and have them at the minimum board up your home. This keeps the weather out and ensures that the home remains secure while you wait for a full repair to be done. Fire damage restoration crews will document everything that they do and you should keep all receipts to document money that you had to pay out to get the home examined. Depending on the amount of damage, the company may also want to tarp up your home to protect from any further damage.

Will the amount of damage affect my fire and smoke damage claim?

Depending on the level of damage to your home, an insurance may label your damage claim as either a partial or total loss. Insurance companies will take different approaches to these two different levels of damage in a fire and smoke damage claim. for starters, the difference is already fairly obvious in the names partial and total loss. Partial would mean that there was little to moderate damage to the home from fire and smoke but the structure is still salvageable. A total loss would be considered just that. A total loss and not worth an attempt at saving. In the case of partial loss, there may be hidden fire and smoke damage. This kind of damage can include things like ash and smoke remnants left in improperly cleaned ducts or inconspicuous parts of the structure or damage to the ducts of the air system of the home that would decrease the air quality. Partial loss claims are also prone to delays from insurance companies since they are ranked low in terms of priority. With a total loss fire and smoke damage claim, the insurance company will consider your home damaged to the point that attempts to repair it would be unnecessarily expensive. Sometimes there can be conflict in terms of what an insurance company and someone filing a claim consider a total loss which can complicate the process.

Will my insurance company gives me what I need to repair my home?

Typically, no. Most people believe that as long as they pay their monthly premium every month on time they will be covered no matter what happens. This is not the case. You need to be aware that the goal of an insurance company is to pay out as little as possible. Like every business, the less they have to pay out, the more profit for them. So, do not expect to automatically get everything covered when you talk to the insurance agent. They may offer you less than what you deserve, and at that point, you should consider legal action.

Should I hire an attorney to make a home owner's claim?

It may be necessary to hire an attorney if the insurance company is refusing to pay the full amount of your claim. It is understandable to expect the insurance company to pay for all of the damage to your home. Why else would you pay them? You certainly wouldn't pay them with the expectation that in your time of need they would only cover half or a quarter of your losses.

If you are having trouble getting an insurance company to pay you the full value of your claim after a fire has caused damage, please contact Geoffery Pfeiffer at the Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA. The office number is 727-451-6900, or you can contact us online by filling out this form. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has the necessary experience dealing with homeowners insurance claims and will work with you in your time of need to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation!


Matthew Dolman

Personal Injury Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has successfully fought for more than 11,000 injured clients and acted as lead counsel in more than 1,000 lawsuits. Always on the cutting edge of personal injury law, Matt is actively engaged in complex legal matters, including Suboxone, AFFF, and Ozempic lawsuits.  Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess of $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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