Homeowners insurance coverage. Typical homeowner’s insurance covers damages caused by wind, fire, and lightning. The fire that destroyed your home and possessions should be paid by your insurance company up to a policy limit for a new home.  Damage caused by smoke, soot, ash, flames and byproducts of fire will be covered.  Soot and smoke damage are health hazards, so making sure to remove items and clean the house and replace items that will hold those noxious substances in them is imperative.  Sometimes it may look like items are not damaged, but the smell will never go away.

Document losses. Document all items that have even small amount of smoke, soot or ash damage as they can cause lifelong negative health effects.  Walls and ceilings may need to be replaced as well as carpets, drapes, clothing and family heirlooms.  Do not try to clean the house yourself as you may inhale particles and dust that is bad for your lungs.  Insurance claims should pay for professional cleaning.  Professional cleaners and remediation teams know how to clean up smoke damage and can you a better idea of the extent of the damages in your home.

Some providers will try to deny a smoke damage claim, so it is in your best interest to get an independent loss adjuster to verify damages to home and possessions including smoke damage.  Independent loss adjusters are usually contacted for amounts above Ten Thousand dollars.

List events regarding fire.  Immediately make a list of factors regarding your claim including:

  1. The date and type of loss;
  2. The location and any injuries sustained;
  3. Other people besides residents involved;
  4. Condition of the home;
  5. Detailed description of damaged contents;
  6. Information regarding temporary repairs or complete replacement;
  7. Police and fire department records;
  8. Be aware of timeline to file a claim with your insurance company;
  9. Keep a file of 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.

Value of Maryland Insurance Administration. If you cannot come to an agreement with your insurance provider regarding the costs to your home from damages, then you can file a property insurance complaint with the Maryland Insurance Administration.  Their primary role is to protect consumers from illegal insurance practice by ensuring providers operating in Maryland act in accordance with state laws.  The Maryland Insurance Administration will forward a copy of your complaint to the insurance company when necessary; obtain further information or explanation of the dispute on your behalf, either in writing or by phone; explain insurance policy provisions; suggest actions you may take to resolve your insurance problem; when insurance company is acting in violation to a state statute we can take corrective action. If our efforts do not yield a positive outcome you may need to seek legal assistance. You may also make a formal consumer complaint with the Maryland Attorney General’s Office.

Seek legal counsel to assist you with the filling of complaints to the Maryland Insurance Administration, and the Maryland Attorney General’s office to obtain resolution to the problem, and toward reasonable expenses caused by the fire, smoke and soot damage would be a wise decision.  Contact Rowe, Weinstein & Sohn for a consultation to see what legal action you can initiate to handle property insurance settlement claim regarding the fire at your home.

The Law Offices of Rowe, Weinstein & Sohn

1401 Rockville Pike, Suite #110
Rockville, MD 20852

 

Office: 301-770-4710
Facsimile: 301-770-4711
Toll Free: 1-888-340-7583
Korean Speaker:
703-887-1037

Sources:

https://insurance.maryland.gov/Consumer/pages/FileAComplaint.aspx

http://www.marylandattorneygeneral.gov/Pages/CPD/Complaint.aspx