Unexpected incidents such as house fires and raging wildfires can pose significant dangers to individuals, families, homes, and personal belongings.
Wildfires across the country, spanning from California to Florida, have forced many people to evacuate their homes and face the financial repercussions of the smoke and fire damage wreaked upon their properties.
Fires can also begin within the home, causing minor to major damage by way of flames, smoke, soot, as well as materials used to put out the flames, such as water and other chemicals. Personal property can be destroyed in a matter of minutes, and the emotional toll of losing personal property to a fire can last a lifetime.
Submitting an insurance claim for fire and smoke damage coverage is the primary way in which insured homeowners can seek compensation for repair, replacement, and relocation costs in the wake of a serious fire. Securing coverage, however, is not always easy.
If you’re having issues receiving payment from your fire insurance carrier for insured losses, our insurance recovery lawyers can help you by investigating your claim and determining your eligibility for legal recourse.
Understanding Fire And Smoke Damage Coverage
Fire and smoke damage coverage is a type of insurance that can insure property owners for personal and financial losses sustained in the wake of a fire. This may include coverage for damage to personal belongings as well as structural property damage.
Standard homeowners insurance policies generally offer varying amounts of coverage for covered perils, which may include incidents such as home or wildfires. Some insurance policies may include terms and conditions that disqualify certain losses from insurance coverage, depending on the cause of the fire and other factors.
After sustaining fire and smoke damage, homeowners insurance may cover losses such as:
- outdoor foliage
- outdoor structures such as garages, sheds, and gazebos
- structural damage
- temporary relocation expenses (e.g. hotel expenses, restaurant bills)
Business property insurance may offer similar forms of coverage for establishments that sustain property damage as a result of a fire. Business owners who are forced to temporarily close their doors or reduce their business hours due to fire-related damage may be eligible to seek additional business interruption coverage to compensate for lost income.
Whether you’re a homeowner or a business property owner seeking coverage for fire damage, the types of coverage and coverage limits may vary depending on the type of policy you have and the terms and conditions listed within your policy.
What To Do If Your Insurance Company Denies Your Fire And Smoke Damage Claim
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, residential fires—the most common types of fires prompting property damage claims—result in billions of dollars of total losses in the U.S. each year, leaving property damage, injury, and death in their wake.
The primary causes of residential and non-residential fires include:
- open flames
- electrical malfunctions
- other unintentional causes
Filing an insurance claim for fire and smoke damage coverage is the primary way in which individuals who have suffered serious losses can secure compensation to help them recover from the financial burden of fire-related losses.
After submitting a fire insurance claim, policyholders are legally owed payment for covered losses within a state-mandated window of time—typically between 14 to 90 days.
However, there are some insurance companies that may deny claims for coverage, or underpay policyholders for damage, creating an unnecessary and unjust financial burden for those who have filed legitimate claims.
If you’re having issues receiving payment for a fire and smoke damage coverage and wish to dispute your claim, here’s what you can do:
Review Your Insurance Policy
Before contacting your insurance company to dispute your claim, review your insurance policy to confirm your fire and smoke damage coverage. Insurance companies may deny fire and smoke damage claims for policyholders who have filed for losses not covered under their insurance policies.
In addition, consider checking whether you have exceeded your limits for coverage or whether there are certain deductibles you must meet before being able to file claims for fire and smoke damage coverage.
Consider Common Reasons For Denied Claims
There are several common reasons insurance companies may reject claims for fire and smoke damage-related coverage. Although receiving a denied claim can be frustrating, your insurance company may only reverse their decision if their denial of coverage was made due to an error on their behalf or due to a false allegation of fraud.
Reasons why insurance companies may deny fire and smoke damage claims include:
- missing or late premium payments
- coverage limits have been met or exceeded
- lack of evidence or documentation for losses
- filing for losses that aren’t included in your coverage
- filing a claim past the deadline stated in your policy
Not all insurance claims decisions are made in good faith. If you suspect your insurance company has wrongfully denied or underpaid your claim, you may request an additional review of your claim to investigate for an adjuster error.
Disputing an insurance claim is a legal right you are owed as a policyholder. If your insurer is refusing to review your claim or is delaying payment, a lawyer can help you take legal action to hold your insurer accountable for compensating you for insured losses.
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Why Do Some Insurance Companies Unfairly Deny Claims?
Denying claims on baseless grounds or without a proper explanation are common examples of bad faith tactics used by some insurance companies to avoid paying individuals for covered losses.
Insurance companies are regulated primarily under state laws, which serve to hold insurance companies accountable for properly investigating and paying out claims in a timely manner.
As a bill that has been adopted in most states, the Unfair Claim Settlement Practices Act (USCPA) is a prime example of a law that serves to regulate insurance companies and protect policyholders from having their claims unjustly denied, underpaid, or otherwise mishandled.
If you suspect your claim has been unjustly denied and has not been granted an additional review by your insurer, you may be eligible to take legal action against your insurer for unlawful mishandling.
Additional ways some insurance companies may mishandle claims:
- undervaluing property damage
- delaying payment or investigation
- failing to provide an explanation for denied coverage
- refusing to review or investigate a claim
- allowing inadequately trained adjusters to handle claims
- ignoring evidence of property damage
- providing false or misleading information about your coverage
- false allegations of fraud or arson
Many individuals who suffer property damage or property loss in a fire are already experiencing a great deal of stress and grief. Disputing a claim can be a taxing ordeal, adding to this burden.
Hiring a lawyer to help you dispute a claim, or to help you file a bad faith insurance claim against your insurer, can offer significant benefit in helping you secure the compensation you’re owed under the terms and conditions of your insurance policy.
Hiring A Lawyer To Help You Dispute A Claim
Property insurance policies often contain complex legal language that can be difficult to parse through and understand without an extensive legal background.
An experienced insurance recovery lawyer can serve as an effective ally in helping homeowners dispute unsatisfactory claims and investigate claims for evidence of bad faith tactics.
At Florin|Roebig, our insurance recovery lawyers are committed to ensuring property owners who have suffered fire and smoke damage are able to secure the payment they are entitled to under their insurance policies.
We have extensive experience helping clients who are in various stages of the dispute process, including individuals who have yet to file a dispute as well as those who are experiencing significant delays or unfair treatment from insurance company representatives.
At Florin|Roebig, our insurance recovery lawyers can help you by:
- providing a free case evaluation to assess the details of your case
- explaining your legal rights as a policyholder
- investigating a claim for evidence of bad faith insurance tactics
- hiring experts to perform an unbiased assessment of your total property damage
- determining an estimated value for your insured losses
- handling communications with your insurance company
- fighting for a fair settlement on your behalf
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Contact Us Today For A Free Case Evaluation
If you’ve suffered fire and smoke damage on your property and are having trouble receiving payment from your insurance carrier, our lawyers can assess your case and investigate your claim for evidence of unlawful mishandling by your insurer.
Don’t wait to learn what our fire and smoke damage claims lawyers may be able to do for you. Contact Florin|Roebig today to schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated lawyers to discuss the details of your case.