One thing that very few homeowners consider after they’ve experienced a fire is the associated smoke damage. It’s important to know that the insurer will typically cover the cost of repairing or replacing furnishings and similar items. However, it may not cover the cost of remediating smoke damage throughout the residence. Coverage varies among insurers. Some exclude it entirely, while others provide limited coverage. A public adjuster may be able to help, depending on the policy.
Denials and Underpayment
Adjusters employed by insurance companies are tasked with assessing damage and paying out as little as possible. Even if smoke damage is covered, the claim may be denied or only minimal reimbursement provided.
Documentation is Key
Before filing a claim, it’s critical that homeowners document every item for which they’re filing the claim. Take photos or video of each room. That includes everything from clothing and fabric covered furnishings to carpeting, drapes and appliances.
Smoke, Soot and Ash
The obvious damage from a fire is easy to see. There will be a layer of soot or ash overlaying everything. What isn’t seen are the microscopic particles that are emitted during a fire, many of which are carcinogens. Those particles are able to infiltrate the smallest of cracks and crevices. The smell can last for months. Soot and ash can cause discolorations and have the ability to corrode metal and electronics, thereby posing a safety hazard.
What a Public Adjuster Can Do
A public adjuster is your advocate and does not work for the insurance company. He or she will examine a client’s policy to determine the exact extent of their coverage and any exclusions. If smoke damage is covered and the insurer has denied the claim or it has been underpaid, a public adjuster is able to work for you on multiple levels.
A Staunch Advocate
The public adjuster can reopen a claim and negotiate with the insurer for a larger reimbursement. They have extensive knowledge of the insurance industry and can often bring matters to a satisfactory conclusion for clients in as little as 90 days.