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  • Craig Harrell

Everything You Need to Know About Smoke Damage Claims

Updated: Apr 16

House fires can be devastating and disorienting. Once the fire is out and everyone is safe, one of the next steps you'll need to take is dealing with the damage caused by smoke. We want to help guide you through the process, so we're breaking down everything you need to know about smoke damage claims.


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Understanding Smoke Damage


Smoke damage, often overlooked, can be as harmful as the direct damage from the fire itself. It can discolor walls, ceilings, and other surfaces, leave an unpleasant smell that's hard to eliminate, and even pose health hazards. So it's essential that you understand the extent of the smoke damage in your home to file your insurance claim accurately.


Know Your Policy


Your homeowner's insurance policy will typically cover smoke damage, but it's essential to review the fine print to understand the details. Policies differ, and coverage can vary based on whether the smoke damage was due to a covered peril like a house fire or other events like a nearby wildfire. You should know your policy's coverage limits, deductibles, and any special stipulations.


Document the Damage


Thorough documentation of the damage is crucial for a successful claim. Photographs and video evidence are especially useful, showing the extent and locations of smoke damage throughout your home. Record the date, time, and any relevant circumstances that could provide additional context.


Immediate Notification of Issue to Insurance


Once you understand the extent of the damage, the next step is to inform your insurance company immediately. Keep in mind that there may be deadlines for submitting claims within your policy. When notifying, provide as much detail as possible, including the cause of the smoke, the date and time of the incident, and any immediate actions you have taken.


Hire a Smoke Damage Restoration Professional


You'll likely need professional help to assess and restore the smoke damage. These professionals have specialized tools and techniques to detect hidden smoke damage and remove smoke residues and odors. This service is typically covered by insurance, but be sure to discuss this with your insurance representative.


The Adjuster's Visit


Your insurance company will send an adjuster to evaluate the damage. During the adjuster's visit, be prepared to walk them through the property, pointing out all areas affected by smoke. Have your evidence, including photos, videos, and a list of damaged items, on hand.


Submit Your Claim


Once you've gathered all the necessary information and documentation, it's time to submit your claim. Detail everything related to the smoke damage incident: include a description of the incident, all your documentation, and reports from smoke damage restoration professionals. Be thorough and clear.


Understanding the Settlement


After you submit your claim, your insurance company will review it and propose a settlement. This can take time, so patience is key. The settlement will depend on your policy coverage, the extent of the damage, and the estimated repair costs. If you disagree with the settlement, you have the right to negotiate or seek assistance from a public adjuster or attorney.


Post-Claim Considerations


Once your claim is settled and the cleanup process begins, remember that the objective is to restore your home to the condition it was in before the damage occurred. Depending on your policy, the insurance may cover the actual cash value (depreciated value) or the replacement cost of damaged items. Check with your insurance company to understand which applies to your policy.


Clear the Air with Harrell Adjusting Services


Dealing with a smoke damage claim can be challenging and time-consuming, but understanding the process makes it more manageable. Remember, your insurance agent is there to assist you throughout the process. Don't hesitate to ask questions or seek clarification. The more information you have, the smoother the process will be. If you're struggling to file your claim or you're unhappy with the settlement you received from the insurance company, we can help! At Harrell Adjusting Services, our top priority is getting you fair compensation in a timely fashion. Give us a call today to get started.

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