Getting Help With Smoke Damage Insurance Claims

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If you’re having difficulty with an insurance claim related to smoke damage, our Houston fire insurance claim lawyers handle cases involving house and condo fires. Call 713-874-9216 for a free case review.

Smoke Damage to a Home

Smoke may damage many components of a home, including:

  • Structural damage
  • Heating and cooling, air system
  • Appliances
  • Doorknobs and handles
  • Electrical system
  • Plumbing
  • Electronics
  • Personal items
  • Odor
  • Toxic/carcinogen exposure

What Does Smoke Damage Do to a Home?

Smoke is incomplete combustion. It occurs when the fuel of a fire isn’t completely consumed.

Small pieces that remain rise in the air. These pieces may contain hundreds of different chemicals, depending on what is burning in the fire. Smoke is categorized by its components and temperature as wet smoke, protein smoke, fuel smoke or dry smoke.

Smoke may damage the metal, plastics, glass and other materials in a home. Soot is acidic and can corrode the structure of the home, electrical system and plumbing. A corroded electrical system may short circuit, risking additional fire. Electronics covered in soot are more likely to overheat and fail. Personal items may be covered with soot.

What is soot?

Soot is a partially burned substance. Soot commonly contains carbon, residue and powder. It may be sticky or greasy.

Smoke Damage and Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Smoke damage to a house or multi-unit dwelling can be devastating. The structure and personal belongings can be affected. It’s important to get the insurance compensation that you deserve.

A lawyer can assist you with your claim.

Homeowners insurance protects the investment that you make in your home. It covers unexpected, unintentional harm. Smoke damage is often covered by homeowners insurance as a peril. When it comes to smoke damage, accidental harm is usually covered, like cooking fires, candles, machinery and electrical fires and even cigarette smoke. Intentional bad acts like arson are usually not covered.

How does homeowners insurance cover smoke damage?

Most homeowners insurance includes peril coverage. A peril is a bad event. It can suddenly damage your home and its contents. Examples of perils are fire, theft, explosion and falling objects (aircraft, for example).

Peril coverage is generally in an insurance policy as one of two things – named peril or open peril.

  • Named peril – Only the perils named specifically in the policy are covered
  • Open peril – All risks that are not specifically excluded are covered

For how to know if smoke damage is covered by homeowners insurance, review your insurance policy for perils. Determine what coverage you have and any inclusions and exclusions that may apply to you.

Does homeowners insurance cover cigarette smoke damage?

Often, cigarette smoke damage is covered by homeowners insurance. Causes of accidental fire are covered in many policies, including a cigarette fire if the fire is not intentional. Check your insurance policy to verify inclusions and exclusions.

Does homeowners insurance cover wildfire smoke?

Homeowners’ insurance typically covers wildfire smoke as an unexpected peril. Fire from a neighbor’s home, wildfire and lightning are usually covered, too. Your policy language determines your exact coverage.

Your Smoke Damage Insurance Claim

When pursuing your smoke damage settlement, remember that the true extent of smoke damage – and your losses – is often worse than is immediately apparent.

Smoke can travel into the cracks of the home and compromise its internal structure. Soot can corrode metals and leave a sticky film on everything it touches. Soot can be toxic, making your home unsafe to live in until repairs are complete. Professional cleaning is almost always needed. Trying to clean up on your own may only spread damage, and it may expose you to toxins and carcinogens.

The insurance company may try to undervalue your settlement. In addition, because smoke damage is often a partial loss event, insurance companies may not prioritize your claim the same way that they would a total loss fire.

Starting a Smoke Damage Insurance Claim

To start a smoke damage insurance claim, you’ll need:

  • Date of loss
  • Where the fire occurred
  • Whether anyone is injured
  • General information about visible damage
  • Fire and police reports

Report the fire to your insurance company right away – don’t wait! It’s important not to give the insurance company a reason to question why reporting may have been delayed. Take photos and video of the damage. Write down what has been damaged. Track expenses related to the loss. Involve a lawyer as soon as possible.

Smoke damage can be complex, and the true extent of the damage can be hidden. When you’re reporting the damage to the insurance company, don’t speculate. Just tell them that there is visible damage, what injuries occurred, if any, and that you will follow up with more information soon.

Is it safe to stay in a smoke-damaged home?

Soot is a carcinogen. Significant exposure to soot can be harmful. Even in an area of the home that is not directly covered in soot, the smoke in the home’s air system can be harmful. It’s usually not safe to stay in a smoke-damaged home until it can be professionally cleaned.

Smoke Damage Insurance Claim Issues

Common issues in smoke damage insurance claims include:

  • Disputes regarding whether the damage is covered under the terms of the policy
  • Other dwelling coverage during necessary repairs
  • Damage to internal components and needed repairs, like the air and plumbing systems
  • Whether cleaning, repairs or replacements are needed
  • Assessments and settlement offers that are too low
  • Bad faith rejection of the claim, unreasonable delays
  • Maximum payments and deductibles
  • A rejected claim based on an accusation of intentional damage

Remember that you don’t have to accept the first settlement offer from the insurance company. You can have a lawyer represent you throughout your case.

Get Legal Help With Your Smoke Damage Claim

If your home has been damaged by smoke, you can have legal help from Haun Mena. We represent people throughout the Houston, TX area with insurance claims. If you have questions about how a lawyer for a smoke damage insurance claim may assist you, please contact us to learn more. If you have received an undervalued settlement offer, or if you need to appeal the denial of your claim, we may be able to represent you.

Call 713-874-9216 or message us online today for your consultation.

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