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Homeowners Insurance: Smoke Damage Coverage

A fire in your home or next door at your neighbor's house can cause a lot of damage. Even when the fire is contained to the area where it ignited, the smoke it produces can quickly travel to other rooms of your home.

Smoke can also cause a lot of damage, so you will want to know how your homeowners insurance works for smoke damage incidents.

What Damage Smoke Can Do

Smoke leaves behind soot, stains, debris, and bad smells. The soot stains walls, ceilings, and floors black. The smell gets into everything — for example, clothing, carpeting, draperies, and fabric upholstery materials. Smoke damage, as well as the soot and stains it leaves behind in its wake, is not only destructive and ugly but fine particles in smoke are also hazardous to your health.

Soot

Soot is a black powdery substance that clings to the surfaces it lands on. It's a byproduct of incomplete combustion that causes a major cleanup problem after a home fire. Since soot can ruin whatever it touches, start the cleanup process as quickly as possible.

Smoke

Smoke travels through heat and air conditioning vents, kitchen ventilation systems, and bathroom vents. It disperses soot and microscopic particles that can damage your home, its contents, and your lungs.

Regardless of what area of your home the fire starts in, smoke can travel to outside walls, wall cavities, closed closets, and inside dresser drawers, depositing damaging residue along its course. Smoke particles attract to synthetic materials and stick to window blinds.

The longer an area is exposed to smoke, the more deeply the odor embeds in carpet and upholstery fibers and fabrics.

Cleanup isn't easy and generally requires the help of professional cleaners — assistance that can be expensive. For example, smoke and soot damage often requires the use of industrial vacuum, professional carpet, and upholstery furniture cleaners.

Many times, you have to repaint walls, replace wall and attic insulation, and professionally deodorize the home — jobs that can add up to thousands of dollars.

What Home Insurance Covers

Most standard homeowners insurance policies cover damage wind, fire, or lightning causes. A policy usually pays to repair or replace anything inside your home damaged by flames, soot, or smoke, even if a house fire next door causes the damage.

If your home suffers smoke damage, most insurance policies cover professional cleaning and remediation costs. Professional cleaners have specialized equipment and protective clothing to safeguard them and make cleanup faster and easier.

What Information Insurers Require

When filing an insurance claim for smoke damage, provide your insurance company with a complete list of losses and damages. An inventory list of damaged contents in addition to their estimated value and age can speed claims processing time, as can photographs and videotapes of the damage before cleaning up.

When filing a claim, include information such as the date of loss or damage, type of loss or damage, description of damaged structures and contents, and losses that require repairs or replacements. Also, provide reports from the local fire and police departments, as failure to provide adequate information can delay payment of your claim.

You also need to check your policy for the period of time in which you have to file a claim. If you miss the timeline for filing a smoke damage claim, your insurance company may not have to pay the claim. Therefore, report the loss as soon as you can.

For answers to your questions about coverage related to fire and smoke damage, contact Advanced-Insurance.Net. We can explain claim issues related to smoke damage, including hidden smoke damage and the need for proper cleaning and repair techniques.