How to File a Smoke Damage Insurance Claim
Cleaning up after a fire can be a daunting prospect. After all, fire is responsible for only part of the damage to your home or business – many individuals also have to contend with water damage and smoke damage throughout their homes. While fire may not have damaged all your possessions, there is a chance that smoke damage may have rendered them beyond repair. When this occurs, filing a smoke damage claim can be helpful. However, knowing how to file a smoke damage claim could make the difference in a speedy claim payout or a fight with adjusters. Take the following steps to effectively file your smoke damage insurance claim:
Call Your Insurance Company as Soon as Possible
As soon as you suspect smoke damage, contact your insurer. The longer you wait, the more an insurer might challenge the veracity of your claim. Remember that the claims process can be lengthy, so getting a head start on the process will make your ordeal go more smoothly. Once you place a call to your insurance company, a representative can tell you what kind of supporting documentation they require to move the process forward.
Review Your Declarations Page
When you received your insurance policy, you may have shoved it into a desk drawer and forgotten about it. Now that you actually need to use it, it’s time to read the fine print. You can locate many of the important details about your policy on the “declarations page.” This provides valuable information about the extent of your policy’s coverage, your expected deductible, any limitations and exclusions, and more. It may also give you filing deadlines for your smoke damage claim.
Now it’s time to begin collecting the supporting documentation that your claims adjuster requests. Examples of evidence may include but are not limited to:
- The date of the incident leading to losses.
- The types of damages your home or business incurred (i.e., smoke damage or water damage).
- Copies of any police reports, if applicable.
- Your contact information.
- Receipts for hotels, if you had to find alternative lodging.
At this point, you might also have to provide an estimate for repairs and damages. Be sure to support your claims with plenty of photographic evidence and a complete inventory. Your insurer may provide an inventory sheet, or you can download an app to keep track of your damaged possessions.
After reviewing all the evidence, a claims adjuster may visit your home or business and inspect the damage. After an independent investigation, the adjuster will counter your estimate with an offer. It’s important to remember that claims adjusters start low to save their company money. Don’t accept the first offer without talking to an attorney. It’s best to keep negotiating until you arrive at a number you both can accept.
A fire can bring a lot of stress into your life, but your next actions will determine how efficiently you can recover. Keep a level head, be proactive, and use this as a guide when filing your smoke damage claim.