Fire Damage Insurance Claims

Texas residents feel they must have insurance for security to protect their property from unforeseen events, and many financial institutions require it as a condition of lending. However, the unfortunate truth is that even after paying costly premiums, insurance carriers may try their best to undervalue a claim or deny it altogether, shifting blame onto a property owner, especially in the case of fire damage claims.

Submitting residential or commercial fire insurance claims can be a complex and intricate process. However, Houston fire damage claim lawyers at MMA Law Firm can work with a policyholder and communicate concerns to the insurance carrier to clear up honest differences and allow payment to be released for costly damages caused by a fire in a Houston dwelling.

Fire Damage Claims in Texas

A fire damage claims attorney in Houston can assist in evidence collection to support the validity of submitted claims on a policyholder’s behalf, utilizing insurance disaster consultants to formally assess fire damages and prepare valuations for payments owed under perils covered in a property owner’s policy.

Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damages caused by wind, fire, and lightning. Commercial property insurance may have specific perils clauses that address the activities that will be taking place in the structure, such as office use, retail use, industrial use, and warehousing, each with its own risk concerns. 

When a fire damages or destroys a building, smoke damage may occur throughout the entire structure, including expensive personal items. Therefore, smoke damage after a fire must be calculated into the total damages requested to repair the home or commercial property.

Risks Covered Under a Fire Insurance Policy

Every Houston insurance policy has individual nuances tailored by the coverages available and chosen for purchase by a property owner, bearing in mind the types of storms and other structural damages that occur in Texas. Therefore, a policyholder and insurance lawyer should review unique policy language, specifically if a fire is an increased risk concern based on a building structure’s use or location. For example, some policies will only cover damage directly related to a fire, but others will also cover smoke and water damage.

When a fire destroys — or partially destroys — an insured’ property, policyholders will need to make a claim for damages to cover reconstruction and replacement or specialized cleaning of permanently damaged possessions. Flames, soot, and ashes cause damage and leave toxic byproducts in a building structure and should be covered unless a separate clause defines and excludes this type of damage. Water damage is also a consideration, increasing possible mold-related health problems. 

Fire Damage Claim Denials

Policyholders may try to file a fire damage claim without first having legal counsel review it and will only request a Houston fire insurance attorney after a claim has been denied. These claims can be rejected for many reasons, including unethical actions and carrier tactics such as:

  • Accusing a policyholder of arson
  • Delaying scene investigation, leaving room for errors in damage valuation, or increasing damages from exposure to the elements and lingering toxins
  • Threats of prosecution of a policyholder for the supposed fraudulent claim
  • Undervaluing property and contents
  • Violations of insurance policy terms and coverages

The burden of proof is on the insurance company to verify arson allegations. Still, fire insurance claim attorneys will build a case to support the payment benefits a policyholder deserves. In many cases, a fire damage claim can be settled within 3-4 months, but simple filing mistakes and other errors in claim documents can delay that timeframe. Experienced fire damage claim attorneys in Houston at MMA Law Firm are instrumental in streamlining this process.

What To Do After a Fire Checklist

Policyholders should prioritize completing an informative document regarding a fire-damaged property that includes:

  • The date and type of loss
  • The location and any injuries sustained
  • Other people besides the policyholder and residents involved
  • Condition of the home or commercial building
  • Detailed description of damaged contents
  • Construction quotes for temporary repairs or complete replacement costs
  • Police and fire department reports
  • Insurance company filing deadlines
  • Relevant documents, records, pictures of items, videos, and receipts for costs of items. Email transmissions of communication with the insurance company, as well as notations on phone calls or any other interaction having to do with the loss from fire and smoke damage

Any items with even small amounts of smoke, soot, or ash damage must be replaced to avoid lifelong adverse health effects for residents or building occupants. Professional cleaners and remediation teams can provide the insurance company with a precise quote for the required services that should be added to damage claims. For example, interior structural walls and ceilings may need to be replaced, in addition to non-fixture items such as drapes, clothing, heirlooms, and carpeting.

Texas insurance companies may try to deny a smoke damage claim, so it is in a policyholder’s best interest to hire an independent loss adjuster to verify property damages, including smoke-damaged items. A fire insurance claim attorney in Houston may guide this process with their own team of insurance claim loss adjustment experts.

Contact MMA Law Firm’s Fire Damage Attorneys

Houston insurance lawyers at MMA Law Firm can communicate with insurance companies, gather formal reports from arson investigators, and collect repair or replacement estimates for a fire-damaged property. When insurance claims are denied, or a carrier is undervaluing damage, a fire damage claim attorney can initiate formal litigation and report the insurance company to the Texas Department of Insurance.

Contact us today.