Fire damage insurance claims can be complicated and messy. All home insurance policies cover fire damage. However, with so much destruction, calculating losses is tough.
Depending on your policy, your insurer may calculate fire damage and restoration costs in different ways. Some insurance companies reduce your claim – or even deny it entirely. Others approve all damage restoration and item replacements.
Confused about fire damage insurance claims? How can you estimate fire damage and restoration costs? Today, we’re explaining how much it costs to repair fire damage, restore a property after a fire, and maximize compensation from your insurance company.
How a Fire Insurance Claim Works
No two house fires are alike. However, most fire damage insurance claims go through a similar process.
Here is a typical fire claim settlement procedure, including a fire damage estimate for homes and businesses and how much it costs to fix a fire damaged property:
- A fire starts in your home or nearby. An appliance may malfunction and catch on fire. Your faulty home wiring may create a spark. Or, a neighboring wildfire or house fire could spread fire damage or smoke damage to your property.
- After securing the scene, you report the loss to your insurance company. All home insurance policies cover fire damage. Your insurance company will likely recommend hiring an emergency restoration company to secure the scene. These 24/7 emergency restoration companies can arrive any time of day or night to protect your property from further damage if necessary. It is very important to realize the extent of dangerous chemicals that are now present in your home, and to leave the clean up and restoration to professionals. Research has shown that many premature deaths are directly related to soot in the environment. Particle exposure leads to around 20,000 premature deaths in America each year. Many of these deaths were caused by soot-related diseases. Data also shows that soot annually causes almost 300,000 asthma attacks and 2 million lost workdays due to respiratory problems.
- Your insurance company’s adjuster assesses the damage. The insurance company sends one of their employees, an adjuster, to check the damage. The adjuster investigates the claim and inspects the property. Based on this analysis, the adjuster may recommend further investigation – say, by law enforcement. Or, the adjuster may proceed with fire damage restoration and repairs. Because the adjuster is a salaried employee of your insurance company, the adjuster’s goal is to pay you as little for your claim as legally possible, saving money for your insurance company.
- A contractor completes the fire damage repairs. Repairing fire damage is costly. In many cases, fire damage leads to a total loss: it costs more to repair your property than the property is worth. Or, the fire damage exceeds your policy’s limits. Your insurance company could pay to repair or rebuild your home. Or, you might receive a lump sum payment as part of a total loss settlement.
Ideally, your fire damage insurance claim proceeds without issue. You get fair compensation from your insurance company. Your adjuster treats you with compassion at a difficult time. And you’re happy with the outcome of the insurance claim.
Unfortunately, fire damage insurance claims are rarely straightforward, and many property owners are left unsatisfied. That’s where hiring your own private fire claims adjuster can become hugely beneficial. Many Public Adjusters specialize in fire insurance claims and provide assistance and expertise with estimating fire damage costs and guiding the entire fire claim settlement procedure to ensure policyholders obtain an adequate claim settlement after a fire damages their property.
How Much Does Fire Damage Restoration Cost?
The more you know about fire damage restoration costs, the better equipped you will be to negotiate with your insurance company.
There are two major parts of a fire damage insurance claim:
- Cleanup costs
- Repair and restoration costs
Estimating Fire Cleanup Costs
Angie’s List estimates that fire damage cleanup costs range from $800 to $93,000, with most property owners paying somewhere between $20,000 and $50,000.
Homeowners insurance should cover all or part of these costs. You hire licensed professionals to handle the repairs. Your insurance company pays these professionals directly. Or, your insurance company compensates you for any money paid to contractors.
Estimating Restoration Costs
Fire damage restoration costs vary widely based on several factors, including:
- Square footage of your home
- Number of rooms
- Extent of smoke and fire damage
- Repairs needed
A massive fire across a 4,000 square foot home will cause more damage than a kitchen fire in a one-bedroom, 1,000 square foot home.
Ideally, however, you put out the fire quickly. The fire directly caused damage to one or two rooms of your home, with smoke and water damage throughout the rest of your home.
Generally, fire and smoke damage restoration costs about $9.60 per square foot when restoring a medium or large-sized (2,600 square foot) home, or around $25,000 per restoration claim.
Some of the things involved in fire damage restoration include:
- $12,000 to $24,000 for water damage cleanup. Maybe you used water to put out the fire. Maybe the firefighters sprayed water all over your home. Water can damage walls, floors, and furniture. When left in your home, water can quickly lead to mold.
- $4,000 to $16,000 for soot removal and cleanup. Soot damage represents a large portion of fire damage restorations and repairs. Soot can collect on fabrics throughout your home, including on curtains, carpets, and walls.
- $50 to $100 per pound for fire damaged material restoration or cleanup. Typically, you remove any burnt items from your property, although some items could be repaired or restored.
How Much Does Smoke Damage Restoration Cost?
Restoration companies use two types of smoke damage restoration, including:
- Thermal Fogging
- Ozone Treatment
Thermal Fogging ($350 to $700)
With thermal fogging, the restoration company removes smoke from different types of fabric. The restoration company uses thermal fogging machines and chemicals. These machines create thermal fog particles through a thermal process – not mechanical action. The machines increase the temperature of the liquid, turning it into a fog or vapor. Then, this vapor condenses when it enters the cooler air. The machines generate thermal fogging particles as small as 0.5 microns, similar to the particle size of smoke and soot created during a fire. The particles remove smoke odors from the air.
Ozone Treatment ($300 to $600)
With ozone treatment, the restoration company installs air purification machines that create ozone in a room in your home. The restoration company sets up these machines for hours, then re-enters the room when the cycle is complete. Ozone molecules break down soot and smoke odors at the source.
Other Fire Damage Restoration and Repair Costs
Smoke, soot, water, and fire damage cleanup are all part of a typical home insurance claim. However, even a small property fire can lead to other costs, including:
Fire reconstruction costs. Your kitchen cabinets may require refinishing. You may need new carpets. Your drywall may be scorched in certain places and require replacement. This damage can cost anywhere from $5000 to $500,000, depending on the extent.
HVAC cleanup. Smoke, soot, and fire damage can spread throughout your heating, vacuuming, and air conditioning systems. Removing this damage can be expensive, and your entire HVAC system needs to be cleaned and deodorized to prevent toxins from flowing back into your home.
Miscellaneous cleanup. Fire damage restoration claims can be messy. Many property owners continue discovering new damage for days or even weeks after the fire. Miscellaneous cleanup costs can add up to big claims.
Overall Cost of a Fire Damage Insurance Claim
There’s no specific number for the “average” cost of a fire damage insurance claim. The number varies widely depending on your state, the size of your home, the extent of damage, and hundreds of other factors. When a large fire cannot be extinguished and causes more damage to a structure than that structure is worth, the insurance claim is considered a total loss.
Generally, however, here’s how much it costs to recover and restore a property after a fire:
- Small Fires: $23,500 to $55,000
- Medium Fires: $30,000 to $70,000
- Large Fires: $75,000+
- Total Loss: Your policy limits, depending upon your policy language
Other Tips for Handling Fire Damage Insurance Claims
Fire damage insurance claims can be tricky, and most homeowners only go through one fire damage claim in their life, if at all. Here are some tips to get you through the claim:
Document Everything: It is best to make sure that you take regular videos or photos of your entire house to prove what items were in the home. Be sure to document model and serial numbers for any electronic items. Once a fire has taken place,take photos and videos again of all damage to your property and every damaged item. Ideally, you have receipts proving the value of any high-value item (over $500) damaged in your home. The more evidence you have, the smoother your claim will be.
Check All Parts of Your Home: It may have seemed like a minor fire in your kitchen, but even a small fire can cause big damage. Smoke and soot can travel through your HVAC system to other parts of your home. You might notice fire damage in your attic from a fire in a separate part of your home.
Document All Communication with your Insurance Company: Whether it’s a text message, phone call, email, or letter, you need to document all communication with your insurance company. Ask that any phone calls be followed up with a recap of your conversations by email. You will not have access to their “recorded calls”.
Understand Replacement Value vs. Actual Cash Value: A home insurance policy protects your home and anything inside your home. If the fire destroyed your $1,500 TV, then your insurer will compensate you for this loss. However, policies either use replacement value or actual cash value to calculate loss:
- Replacement Value: This is the cost of replacing the lost item with a similar item today. If you lost a 45-inch HDTV in the fire, for example, then insurance will give you enough money to buy a similar 45-inch HDTV today.
- Actual Cash Value: This is the value of the item you lost, minus depreciation. You might have paid $1,500 for your TV five years ago. Unfortunately, due to depreciation, that TV is only worth $300 today, so that’s what your insurer pays.
- Most policies use actual cash value as the default option for the initial payment. For homeowners that pay extra for replacement cost value, they will withhold “depreciation” until you replace your items with like and kind quality.
- To receive replacement value for your items, you need to actually replace those items. You will buy a new TV, for example, and submit the receipt to your insurance company, which then compensates you for the TV.
Learn What Can Be Salvaged After a House Fire: Some items can be salvaged, while other items need to be disposed of. Your restoration company or adjuster can help explain what can be salvaged.
Hire a Public Adjuster: Fire damage insurance claims can be messy. We’ve barely touched upon some of the issues faced by homeowners and business owners after a fire. If you want to avoid all of this hassle while securing the highest possible payout from your insurer, then consider hiring a public adjuster.
How Public Fire Insurance Adjusters Help
Public Adjusters that work as fire insurance adjusters work on your behalf to maximize claim settlements and ensure a smooth claim. They don’t represent your insurance company:
Your Insurance Company’s Adjuster (Works for Your Insurer): Your insurance company has its own adjuster. This adjuster represents your insurance company. This means that quite often the adjuster’s goal is to pay the lowest amount for your claim as legally possible.
Your Public Fire Insurance Adjuster (Works For You): When you hire a public adjuster, you get a trusted professional who represents you against your insurance company.
Some of the services provided by a private fire insurance adjuster include:
- Negotiation with your insurance company to overturn a denied claim
- Negotiation with your insurance company to maximize payout and ensure you receive every penny legally owed
- Step-by-step walkthrough of the entire claims process from beginning to end
- Expert assistance with every part of your fire damage claim to ensure a smooth process
Many fire insurance adjusters are former insurance professionals. Many previously worked for insurance companies and now work for ‘the good guys’, representing the public against the insurance company.
Skip Complex Negotiations and Hire a Public Adjuster
ClaimsMate public adjusters have a proven ability to increase claim settlements from insurance companies. Public adjusters negotiate with your insurance company on your behalf to secure a higher payout.
If your insurance company has disputed, denied, or reduced your claim, then you may want to hire an experienced public adjuster.
A public adjuster works on your behalf. The public adjuster does not work for the insurance company. A good public adjuster fights to secure the highest possible amount of compensation from your insurance company after a fire damage claim.
The public adjuster applies his or her expertise to your claim, then decides how much you should be owed. The adjuster negotiates with the insurance company until you receive the amount you are owed. It’s that simple.
Talk to a fire damage public adjuster today for free. ClaimsMate offers free consultations. Tell us about your situation. We’ll explain how we help. Then you decide whether you want to hire a public adjuster for your fire damage insurance claim.
Contact ClaimsMate today for a free fire damage insurance claim consultation.