California is experiencing more wildfires year after year. While everyone hopes to never be in the path of a raging inferno, it’s best to stay prepared. If your house is in a fire-prone area, verify that your homeowner’s insurance will cover any fire or smoke damage to your property.
Just as important, learn how to complete an after-fire damage claim. Not knowing what damages to claim after wildfire may lead to receiving inadequate compensation for your losses.
After-Fire Damage Claim Options
After a wildfire in your area, you can file an insurance claim for property damages. Property damage includes fire damage to your home and personal belongings, but you can only file a fire damage claim if the fire actually touched your building.
However, even if the fire didn’t reach your building, your property probably has smoke, soot, or ash damage. You can file a claim and receive compensation for the cost of hiring a restoration company to fix the smoke damage.
So if you’re wondering what damages can be claimed after wildfire keep reading.
Below are examples of after fire damage claim options like smoke and soot damages that you can claim for:
Personal Property Damage
Smoke and ash entering your property can damage belongings, such as appliances, furniture, clothing, art, rugs, curtains, and more.
Building and maintaining a lawn or garden is expensive. Falling soot and ash can suffocate and kill your foliage, and removing and replacing the dead plants will cost time and money. If your policy covers such expenses, you should file a compensation claim.
Soot entering your pool or hot tub sanitation system can cause costly damages. If your property inspection shows that any part of your pool or hot tub has fire or soot damage, inform your insurer.
Soot or ash entering your drains or other parts of your plumbing can lead to clogging and other problems. A thorough property inspection will reveal such plumbing issues so you can mention them in your claim.
Your HVAC and air duct system move heated or chilled air through your property. Soot or smoke entering your air ducts can compromise indoor air quality, which is dangerous if anyone within your property has respiratory issues. Ashes can also damage your HVAC system and require costly repairs. This is one of the more common after fire damage claim options that can be pursued.
Ash itself will settle on solar panels blocking sunlight, much like a heavy buildup of dust would do. The heavy ash or soot build-up sediment has been known to stay on solar panels after mixing with moisture and reduce power production by as much as 30%.
File an after-fire damage claim by contacting an experienced fire and smoke damage lawyer.
How To Know If You Have A Claim After Wildfire
Your fire insurance claim should cover the cost of repairing or replacing property damage. Every policy is different, but most reputable insurers cover obvious fire damage and invisible smoke and soot damage. Verify that you have a claim by inspecting your property or hiring a professional inspector.
The inspection should look for fire, smoke, and ash damage to your roof, garden, windows, walls, HVAC system, and other parts of your property. Besides ruining your building’s aesthetics, fire and smoke damage can render your property unsafe by weakening the structure and compromising indoor air.
List your property damage in your claim and submit it to your insurer. The insurance company will then send an adjuster to inspect your property. If the property damage report by the insurer’s adjuster omits damages revealed by your personal inspection, mention it to your insurer.
Mistakes To Avoid When Filing An After-Fire Damage Claim
Your insurer may reject your claim if you make these mistakes:
- Delaying submitting your claim: Avoid complications by contacting your insurer as soon as possible after the fire.
- Providing insufficient evidence: You should support your claim with proof of the incident. Provide documents or photographs that show the date of the incident, type of loss, injuries, and location of the damage. Relevant police and medical reports and receipts are excellent documents to submit alongside your claim.
- Cleaning Visible Evidence: A big mistake many people make is cleaning up ashes and soot on their property after a wildfire. Avoid making this mistake as you are eliminating evidence for your claim. Do not remove any ashes or soot that have polluted your property. The most common places you will find it is on your vehicle, window sills, pool, driveway, roof, and many other places. Removing evidence can make it more difficult to be award compensation by your insurance company.
- Not securing your property after the fire: After a fire, you must take the necessary steps to secure your property and prevent further damage to it. Failure to do this can lead to a rejected claim.
Open A Fire Claim With An Experienced Lawyer
If you submit a claim without the help of an experienced lawyer, your insurer may try to:
- Undervalue your property.
- Claim your policy does not cover the property damage.
- Take advantage of loopholes in your policy.
- Delay your compensation.
- Offer you low compensation.
At Era Law, Inc., we have years of experience successfully helping property owners seek maximum compensation after a fire. Let our California wildfire lawyer take the hassle out of submitting claims so you can quickly pursue the compensation you need to restore your property and get your life back on track. If you’re wondering what damages to claim after wildfire, contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.