Smoke Damage Insurance Claims: What to Know

smoke damage insurance claims

Your Guide to Smoke Damage Insurance Claims

The problem of wildfires continues in the United States. At the start of November, over 47,500 wildfires had burned in the U.S. And it’s not just residents of California, Oregon, and Washington who are affected. In fact, at one point in the summer of 2020, wildfires burned in 15 states. As a result, smoke and ash traveled for thousands of miles from the fire’s source. Of course, this leads to rising smoke damage insurance claims.

If your home has damage from ash or smoke, it’s important to identify and document it. Doing so helps support homeowner’s insurance claims. This can save you thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses.

Preparing for a Smoke Damage Insurance Claim

Use the following guide to help you identify, document, report, and support your homeowner’s insurance claim for wildfire smoke and ash damage.

Document Everything

Some smoke and ash damage is easy to see and smell. However, some damage remains hidden from view. Therefore, it’s important to have all damage inspected and documented. Take pictures of any damage you can see. This includes photos of rugs, drapes, and upholstery. The contents coverage of your policy covers the damage to these items. Take photos of walls and wall-to-wall carpeting as well. This falls under the dwelling coverage part of your policy. It is important to document everything because there is no dollar limit cap on what you can claim beyond the limits already set in your policy.

Smoke Test Kit Wildfire Smoke Testing
Prepare for a smoke damage insurance claim with a DIY test kit.

Test & Inspect

Buy a smoke screening kit and test your home for contaminants resulting from wildfire smoke. A wildfire smoke test kit gets fast results. You collect the samples then mail them to an environmental diagnostics laboratory for testing. After receiving the samples, a detailed report is returned within 3-5 business days.

Work with Your Insurer on Smoke Damage Insurance Claims

Insurance providers require inspections and estimates before paying out on smoke damage insurance claims. Work with them to ensure a smooth claims process. Take notes of all your interactions with claims adjusters to prepare for any challenges. A common sticking point between insurers and claimants is whether an item needs replacing or cleaning.

Clean & Restore

It is the nature of an insurance company to try and keep costs low on their end. For this reason, they may determine that certain items can be cleaned and restored and not replaced. Of course, you are within your rights to disagree. So, be firm and insist on the fair replacement value. 

Protect Yourself from Smoke Damage

Do not move back into the home before the completion of cleaning and restoration. Wildfire smoke contains many contaminants. They are difficult to remove and can impact your health. If left with no other option but to move back in, purchase an air purifier. These devices filter out contaminants and improve indoor air quality.

An HVAC system alone is not enough. Many systems lack HEPA filtration which traps even the tiniest of particles. However, using an air purifier with HEPA filtration, carbon filtration, and bipolar ionization is the most effective way to protect you and your family from wildfire smoke contaminants.

Take care of your physical health too. For instance, report any physical symptoms of smoke or ash inhalation to your doctor. 

Symptoms of smoke inhalation include:

  • Coughing and difficulty breathing
  • Stinging eyes and scratchy throat
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat

Test for Wildfire Smoke Before Filing a Smoke Damage Insurance Claim

Be proactive in your smoke damage insurance claim. Remember to test and document damage. Insist on fair replacement value for items that cannot be cleaned and restored. Get quick results and order your smoke test kit today. Start breathing easier with an air purifier. Call us at 727-572-4550 with questions.