Some of the building structures in Northampton Massachusetts are quite old and can easily go up in flames due to the materials used in days gone by and their closeness to other structures.  Most homeowners’ insurance policies cover damages from a fire, including smoke damage.  Call an attorney to see if you are the exception.

High costs.

Costs related to smoke damage that may not be visible in expensive personal items, or linger in components of the remaining structure could be quite high regarding toxin removal that pervades walls, carpeting, curtains and furniture after a fire.  If a fire destroyed or partially destroyed your home, you will need to make a claim for damages of construction and replacement, or specialized cleaning of damaged possessions.  Flames, soot and ashes leave toxic byproducts that could result in future health concerns to those living in the home structure, and removing them should be covered, unless there is a separate clause that defines and excludes smoke damage specifically.

Document losses.

All items that have even small amounts of smoke, soot or ash damage will need to be replaced to avoid lifelong negative health effects.  Professional cleaners and remediation teams know how to clean up smoke damage and can give the insurance company a more exact dollar figure to cover the extent of the damages in your home. Interior structural walls and ceilings may need to be replaced as well as all non-fixture items such as drapes, clothing, heirlooms and carpeting.   Some providers will try to deny or  adjust claims to a lower amount,  it is in your best interest to get an independent loss adjuster to verify damages to home and possessions including smoke damage.

Benefit of insurance.

Homeowners insurance is designed to help you to replace your possessions or repair damages to your home after a loss, but you need to file a claim in a timely manner in order to be compensated. When police, fire or rescue services come to your home, make sure to provide them with as many relevant details as possible.  Get names of officers and keep copies of all reports that will be useful for your claim.

After a fire occurs causing damage to your home:

  1. Contact your Massachusetts residential insurance agency right away or contact your policy holder’s claims department. In most cases, the policy requires homeowners to make contact within a certain period of time following a loss.
  2. File a claim with all of the following information:
    1. date and type of loss;
    2. location and any injuries sustained;
    3. people besides residents involved;
    4. Condition of the home;
    5. description of damaged contents;
    6. temporary repairs or complete replacement quotes;
    7. Police and fire department records;
    8. temporary housing;
    9. keep documents, records, pictures of items, receipts for costs of items and email transmissions of communication with your insurance company, as well as notations on phone calls or any other interaction having to do with the loss from fire and smoke damage.

Massachusetts complaints.

Massachusetts Insurance Commission. The Massachusetts Insurance Comission handles complaints when an insured party cannot resolve disputes arising out of submitted claims with insurance carriers.  File a property insurance complaint with the Massachusetts Insurance Commission, as their primary role is to protect consumers from illegal insurance practice by requiring providers to operate according to Massachusetts state laws.

Hire an attorney.

Call Attorney Raymond Dinsmore at the Law Offices of Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC for a consultation to see what legal action you can initiate to expedite insurance settlement claims for smoke damage to your home.

Hayber, McKenna & Dinsmore, LLC

69 Masonic Street, Suite E

Northampton, MA 01060

Phone: 413-341-3639

Sources:

https://www.mass.gov/forms/doi-insurance-complaint-submission-form

https://www.mass.gov/how-to/filing-an-insurance-complaint