Smoke Damage Claims
Whether the fire is on your property or your neighbors, smoke can cause extensive damage. Smoke and soot can cover everything from the walls to the contents of your home. Some of your property may be destroyed while others will be costly to clean up. The damage is likely covered if you have property insurance but recovering the full amount may be a challenge.
Insurance companies will go to great lengths to limit their liability and underpay or deny your claim. Rather than dealing with this on your own, have an attorney negotiate a better amount, or fight the denied claim.
Insurance Attorney in Texas
Smoke damage can make a house unhabitable. When this happens, we rely on our insurance company to cover the repairs. All too often, though, insurance claims are denied or under-evaluated, making it harder to get back home, or reopen your business. Contact LeMaster & Ahmed PLLC if you have found yourself in this situation.
Ms. Ahmed and Ms. LeMaster are seasoned insurance litigators who will stop at nothing to achieve the best possible results for you. LeMaster & Ahmed PLLC helps policyholders in areas across Texas such as Montgomery County, Collin County, Harris County, Dallas County and Galveston County.
Call (832) 356-7983 to schedule a consultation.
- Steps to Take Following Smoke Damage
- Will I Have to Pay Out of Pocket for Smoke Damage?
- What to do If Your Smoke Claim is Denied
- Additional Resources
Steps to Take Following Smoke Damage
When there is a fire, smoke will spread. If the fire is in your home or business, smoke may circulate through the property, no matter the size of the flames. The smoke may make its way through living spaces, closets, pantries and kitchens.
Soot can cause grave damage to property and it is very expensive to clean. You will need to file an insurance claim to ensure you have the funds to repair the damage, but there are a few steps you should take before doing so.
- Document the damage: Ensure you take photos of everything affected by the smoke. You will also want to create an exhaustive list of everything that was damaged. You will likely need to submit this inventory list to your insurance company. This list should include the brand name of the item, purchase price, serial number and brief description. The better you document your damage, the better your claim.
- Get a copy of the fire report: A fire report is vital for your claim. This document will provide the time and date of the incident, the areas it affected, the extent of the damage and the source of the fire.
- Contact your insurance lawyer: You should call your insurance lawyer once you know the extent of the smoke damage. Your lawyer will advise you on how to move forward and inform you of all the information you need to file a claim.
Will I Have to Pay Out of Pocket for Smoke Damage?
Standard homeowner’s and commercial property insurance will typically cover fire-related smoke damage. That being said, though, there are situations where a smoke damage claim is not covered.
You might have to pay out of pocket for smoke damage if your home was vacant when the damage occurred. The definition of vacancy varies by insurance company. Generally, a home or business is considered vacant if no one is inside the structure, nor is there any personal property within. A vacant structure can be protected through additional coverage, however.
Smoke damage caused by arson will not be covered if the home or business owner caused the fire. Arson is a criminal offense commonly used to commit insurance fraud, which is a serious crime in Texas. Insurance companies are aware some property owners are willing to set their property on fire in an attempt to receive insurance money.
Smoke damage will be covered if you were the victim of arson.
What to do If Your Smoke Claim is Denied
Insurance is a for-profit business, so denying your smoke claim is in their best interest. Your provider cannot deny their claim just because they want to. They have to have a justifiable reason for doing so, and it must be consistent with the terms of your insurance policy and Texas law.
It is in your best interest to speak with an insurance lawyer if you believe your smoke claim was unjustly denied. Doing so is considered bad faith, which is illegal in Texas. You have the right to sue your insurance company if they acted in bad faith. In addition to unjustly denying a claim, other bad faith acts that may warrant litigation include:
- Failing to explain why the claim was denied
- Failing to accept or reject a claim within a reasonable time
- Failing to provide a prompt, fair and equitable settlement
- Denying a claim because of religion, race, gender or other characteristics
If you prevail in court, you could be awarded up to three times the amount of the claim, attorneys fees and any other damage the court deems appropriate.
Unfair Settlement Practices | Texas Insurance Code – Learn more about bad faith practices by following the link. Scroll to section 541.060 to find a list of other bad faith acts. You can also learn about hearing procedures and misrepresentation of policy. The information can be found on the Texas Constitution and Statutes website.
Homeowners Insurance Basics | Texas Department of Insurance – Follow the link provided to learn more about homeowner’s insurance. You can learn about the difference between replacement cost and actual cash value, your rights as a policyholder and additional personal property coverage.
Texas Insurance Lawyer
Are you having a difficult time negotiating with adjusters? Ms. Ahmed and Ms. LeMaster of LeMaster & Ahmed PLLC have decades of combined experience negotiating with adjusters. They are also well aware of the tactics used by insurance providers to limit their liability. LeMaster & Ahmed PLLC will use this experience to your advantage and ensure you receive the best possible settlement.
Call (832) 356-7983 to schedule a time to speak with us. We are based in The Woodlands and Plano, but regularly help clients in Houston, Dallas and Galveston.