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Does home insurance cover smoke damage?

Smoke DamageIn most cases, home insurance does cover smoke damage. In fact, the HO-1 (Basic Form Homeowner Policy) lists smoke explicitly as one of the most common claims.

Smoke can damage a home in a hurry and usually requires the assistance of professional cleaners in order to totally remove the smell and stains.

With smoke, homeowners get debris, soot and stains all over the home. Walls can be stained black, floors and carpeting can be ruined with soot and even ceilings can turn an ugly shade of black.

If smoke travels to other rooms of the house, more damage can occur, including the destruction or staining of upholstery, drapes, clothing and family heirlooms.

The very smell of smoke can be difficult to remove from a house. Smoke damage is not only unsightly but also hazardous to one’s health. Most importantly, evidence left behind of smoke serves as a traumatic reminder that fire victims would probably like to forget.

Read on to learn all about what do when your home has smoke damage, what home insurance covers with smoke damage, and then also be sure to enter your zip code above to compare free home insurance rates!

React Quickly to Smoke Damage

Paying for professional home cleaning can be pricey, considering that you might need industrial vacuum cleaners, professional carpet cleaners, complete wall scrubbing and perhaps even repainting. In some extreme damage cases, homeowners may have to pay for deodorizing of the house as well as replacing insulation in the wall or attic. However, professional cleaning is often the wisest course of action.

It’s not wise to try and clean smoke damage on your own, as using water based cleaners only make the stains worse. That leads us to the question: will the insurance company cover these high priced cleaning expenses? Typically, unexpected fire is covered by most home insurance policies.

Unfortunately, not every case of fire has been covered, historically speaking. Therefore, owners are advised to review their policy long before any cause for a claim occurs. You don’t want any misunderstandings after thousands of dollars worth of smoke damage happens!

Why Wouldn’t the Claim be Paid?

Are there any circumstances in which smoke damage would not be covered by the insurance company? Perhaps. If the fire starts in a typical location, like a chimney flute, then this might not be considered a true case of unexpected smoke damage. The insurance company understands the policy to mean that they will pay for any sudden and accidental fires that result in smoke damage.

That means that if there are any circumstances that would logically result in the threat of a fire, then the policy will probably not cover them. For example, if the fire results from a preventable action, like leaving a burning cigarette on upholstery, then you better believe the insurance company will not cover any damages!

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Similarly, if the homeowner uses any electrical devices known to be faulty, then this can also count against a claim. The insurance company pays for an unlikely and unprecedented event involving smoke and fire. When there is a clear explanation as to why the fire develops, the less likely it is that the policy will cover smoke damage.

In order to prepare yourself against possible smoke damage, start compiling details of your home well in advance. Create an inventory of all your appliances, furniture, clothing, antiques, jewelry and any other home valuables. Keep a copy of this inventory report somewhere off site. (You could even give it to your insurance agent.) If and when a fire occurs and smoke starts to travel to the house, call the fire department and escape to safety. As soon as possible, contact the insurance company so that the investigation can begin.

If you pay for any immediate repairs, keep all of the receipts. As with any insurance claim, you must first pay a deductible before the insurance company gets involved. That amount is traditionally between $250 and $1,000. It is important to remember to not allow anyone to contaminate the scene. Do not let contractors or even firefighters or police officers rearrange the house. Leave all damages merchandise and furnishings as it is.

Compile Your Evidence

Take photographs of the damage as well as a short video. This is your “burden of proof” in case you need to prove to the insurance company (or even a court of law) that the items were actually in the home before the fire occurred. Pay close attention to your recorded inventory and see what the damage has done. Explain it in detail. Don’t forget things like heaters, walls, tile and furnishings and vanities.

After inventorying the house, give all of your photos, lists and evidence to the insurance company representative that is investing the case. The actual repair of the premises (not counting minor expenses) will take place after the investigation is underway and proof has been submitted. Usually, the insurance company representative recommends a restoration vendor to provide estimates. Cooperate with the insurance company for the best and fastest results.

Remember that you may also be entitled to file an insurance claim if you live in an apartment building and a neighbor’s smoke damage has affected your own home. Though filing a smoke damage claim may increase your premium, it is a helpful policy that will protect you from an expensive and stressful incident in your life.

You don’t have to sign any contract unless you are satisfied with the official proposal. You can use a home insurance rate quote tool right now to get instant quotes on a home insurance policy with smoke coverage!

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