At Merlin Law Group, our claim lawyers understand the tumultuous aftershock that a fire can cause. Everything from clothing to appliances to irreplaceable memories all can be lost to fire damage. Having a valid insurance claim denied after the fact only deepens the wound left behind. We here at Merlin Law Group exclusively represent policyholders pursuing valid insurance claims, including claims for fire and smoke damage.
Fire & Smoke FAQs
Our Fire Damage Attorneys Are Here To Answer Your Questions
- Document any damages to your property by taking clear photographs. Be sure to document any smoke damage, as this type can often be overlooked.
- Consult with an independent adjuster or damage assessment expert to get a second opinion regarding whether you are dealing with a partial or total loss. Partial losses are often delayed, so it is important to determine what your case is in order to properly measure expectations.
- Keep track of any receipts or expenses regarding home repairs.
- Allegation of arson
- Valuation differences
- A violation in terms of the insurance policy conditions
- Fraudulent accusations/charges
Smoke damage is a strong cause for concern for damage to both your property and personal health. The fine particles that make up smoke can lodge themselves into your skin, eyes, or respiratory system and create several health issues. If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, particularly related to your heart or lungs, you may be more susceptible.
Most often, smoke damage is considered covered peril under a typical insurance policy. However, disputes may arise as to the severity and applicability of that smoke damage regarding your claim.
Smoke damage is particularly tricky because it can affect porous materials like fabrics, rugs, curtains, etc. It can also cause discoloration in marble, tile, and other foundational materials. Insurers will often pay for cleaning services, but there can be discrepancies over whether you your items need cleaning versus replacing.
A partial loss situation arises when the property is not completely destroyed. Partial loss situations tend to carry hidden damages, which can include a variety of things including any inadequate or improper repair or cleaning methods, smoke and/or ash remnants, diminished air quality, or air duct destruction. Another issue with partial loss claims is insurer delay, as most insurers consider these low priority cases.
A total loss is when the property is destroyed. The insurer deems the case a total loss, not the insured. Bear in mind you have the right to hire a public adjuster to assess the damage and determine whether it meets the criteria for a total loss prior to submitting your fire and smoke damage claim. A strong sign of a total loss is considerable structural damage. If any core components of the property are damaged, thus rendering the foundation as hazardous or otherwise, the property may be considered a total loss.
It is important to perform a thorough inspection of your property after sustaining fire and smoke damage. You do not want to leave any stone unturned regarding identifying damaged areas. Therefore, it is important to have an independent damage assessment in addition to your insurer’s inspection. Some areas to specifically look out for are your roof, any structural steel or iron, stucco, siding or concrete, windows, plumbing and heating systems, and any interior walls/framing.
Why Choose Merlin Law Group?
Founded in 1985, our law firm continues to be dedicated to representing insurance policyholders throughout the United States. Collectively, our lawyers are licensed to practice in 22 states. In fact, many of Merlin Law Group’s attorneys worked for the insurance industry before joining the firm, so they bring a strong understanding of insurance company practices.
Anyone can file a claim, but it takes experience, knowledge, and savvy to achieve a truly successful outcome. As The Policyholder’s Advocate®, Merlin Law Group aims to drive positive change within the insurance sector by obtaining justice for our clients and educating policyholders on how to navigate insurer bad faith tactics.
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