Offit Kurman insurance recovery attorney represents businesses in a wide range of litigation issues, including efforts to recover money owed to them from their insurers. He has also written numerous articles on insurance coverage issues. In his most recent article, “Fire and Smoke Damage,” he discusses several common insurance scenarios.
Fire and Smoke Damage Claims
- A fire destroys or significantly damages an insured property. As Offit Kurman puts it, this is “straight-forward under most property policies.” Damage caused by an accidental fire is covered under standard insurance policies.
- A small fire is contained, but the property suffers severe smoke damage. Fortunately, most property policies cover smoke damage caused by hostile fires, but “insurance companies will, and have, aggressively fought back against some forms of smoke damage,”
- Smoke damage is the result of fire from another property. This scenario is similar to number two and most courts have been prone to broadly interpret the “hostile fire exception” in these cases.
- The bulk of the damage is caused by water. This scenario arises when the majority of the damage is caused by the water used to put out the fire on your property or a neighboring property. This is covered under most policies. Any resulting mold or wet rot, however, is not.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. There are multiple issues that can arise when trying to file a claim. Disputes will undoubtedly occur over what is covered through your policy and what is considered replacement. “One of the biggest challenges for many individuals or corporations facing a fire, is the loss of records that may be necessary in establishing certain forms of damages,” said Offit Kurman Attorney.
Additional Issues that many arise when filing Fire and Smoke Damage Claims
- Cash Value Policy: The policyholder must locate or recreate records to determine the value of the property and the items it contained. The records must also indicate proper time frame for depreciation.
- Rare Items: It is sometimes difficult for policyholders to prove the existence of items that are not common for a home. “The policyholder will have the ‘burden of proof’ to establish his or her loss and that those items were actually in the home before the fire occurred.”
- Personal Property: “Most policies do not provide for replacement cost for personal property,” explains Offit Kurman attorney. Because of this, it is important that the policyholder provide an accurate and complete list of the items in the house.
- Business Interruption: “Businesses will want to be able to show not just profit and loss, but establish seasonal trends and similar metrics to ensure a fair business interruption recovery,” writes Offit Kurman attorney.
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If you have any questions about Fire and Smoke Damage Claims, please contact us for an insurance recovery attorney