How to Make a Partial Loss Claim After a Fire
FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida. The New York Times reports that the Mendocino fire is now the largest in state history. It has already damaged and destroyed 143 buildings and is threatening residential areas. As we enter fire season, we may see more fire claims arise. California is not the only state at risk of fires. As summer goes on, we are likely to see more fires erupt across the country. Have you checked your fire insurance policy lately? Now might be a good time.
When fire damage completely destroys a structure, the claims process can be more straightforward. When a structure is only partially destroyed by a fire, the claims process can be more complicated. According to Up Help a partial fire damage claim can include other losses, like water damage, if water enters a burned structure, smoke damage, ash damage, and mold if moisture was able to enter a building after the fire. In the aftermath of a fire, you should document all the damage to your home and property and file a claim as soon as possible. If your home seemed to have survived the fire undamaged, you may still want to have your home inspected, especially if there was a fire nearby. Up Help reports that homes can be impacted by extreme heat, even when they don’t burn or don’t show visible damage. Fire claims can be further complicated by ensuing losses. In many instances you may not be covered due to an exclusion for something damaged by fire but you may be covered for an ensuing loss for water damage that was caused while the fire was being extinguished. The bottom line is, before accepting a denial of any portion of a claim, you should have an experienced insurance claim attorney review your policy and claim.
In the aftermath of a fire, your insurance adjuster will typically perform an inspection of your home to determine the extent and value (commonly referred to as scope and price) of the damage. However, it is wise for you to get your own inspection done as well. It is not uncommon for the insurance company’s adjusters and homeowners to disagree about the extent and value of damage. An inspection should include a close look at your roof, the integrity of the building, windows, plumbing, heating, and electric systems, and your home’s interior, depending upon the cause of loss and extent of damage.
Another thing many insureds may not know without consulting the proper professionals is the insurance company may need to pay to clean or replace carpeting, to repaint the interior of your home, to clean or replace furniture, drapery and possibly your HVAC (heating/ventilation/cooling system in your home) system in fire claims. Smoke and fire damage can create issues including carcinogens and odor that is not easily remedied.
In some cases, insurance adjusters will refuse to compensate you for painting and other repairs to restore your home to a uniform appearance after a fire. However, this tactic may not be permitted. Many insurance policies require companies to restore the home to its state before the damage occurred. In Florida, we even have a state statute that requires your insurance to pay for areas not damaged to ensure they match the area being repaired from the insurance loss if they are continuous and/or adjacent to the damaged area; this is typically the case even if the policy language attempts to restrict of limit such coverage. Sometimes insurance policies have explicit exclusions limiting what the insurers will or will not cover. If you’re not sure what your policy does or doesn’t cover, consider reaching out to a qualified insurance claims lawyer like Leader & Leader, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Depending on your policy, you may be entitled to receive money to cover damage to your house’s landscaping. As noted above, if clothes, drapes, or furniture smell of smoke (but were not damaged) or were exposed to carcinogens, you may also be entitled to make a claim to replace these items.
Before settling a claim, consider speaking to a qualified insurance claims lawyer like Leader & Leader, P.A. in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Our firm can help you navigate the claims process, estimate the value of your claim, and fight to help you seek the settlement you may deserve from your insurer. Visit us at https://leader-law.com/fire-damage/ to learn more.
Leader & Leader, P.A.
633 South Andrews Ave. Suite 201
Fort Lauderdale, FL33301