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Jan. 24, 2023
Hiring a Property Damage Attorney for A Fire Damage Claim
If you have recently experienced fire damage to your home or business premises, a skilled fire damage attorney is critical to protecting your rights. The attorneys at the Cedrick D. Forrest Law Firm are willing and able to fight on your behalf.
Fire Damage Statistics:
Fire damage can happen almost anywhere and often occur quickly. According to data from the Texas Department of Insurance, in 2020 there were over 81,000 total incidents of reported fires resulting in over $500 million in losses. Over 26,000 of the reported incidents were due to building fires.
Common Causes of Fire Damage:
The outbreak of a fire and resulting fire damage can originate from a number of sources. The following are some common causes of fire damage that you should be aware of:
· Appliances and Equipment;
· Electrical Systems and Devices;
· Chemicals and Gasses;
· BBQ Grill;
· Holiday Decorations
Is Fire Damage Covered by My Insurance Policy?
The answer depends on your policy language. It is important to note that insurance coverage varies by company and by the policy. Like any other binding contract, the language and any addendums will be critical to determining coverage in the case of fire damage.
Generally, if you have a homeowners policy, it may provide either “all-risk” or “named peril” coverage. All risk policies typically cover all perils including fire damage unless your policy specifically excludes coverage. However, named peril policies only cover damage caused by perils specifically listed in your insurance policy.
If fire damage is covered under your homeowner's policy, generally, you can file a claim for damage to your dwelling (the home’s physical structure) and personal property (e.g. clothing, TV, laptop, etc). You may also have personal liability coverage.
A dwelling policy generally only covers damage to the dwelling (although some dwelling policies also cover personal property).
In addition to coverage for your dwelling and personal property, the following coverages may also be available to you for losses sustained due to fire damage:
· Loss of Use (e.g. fair rental value on rental property);
· Additional Living Expenses (ALE) (e.g. hotel expenses for unlivable residence);
· Other Structures (e.g. fences, detached garage)
As with a homeowners/dwelling policy, insurance coverage for fire damage to a commercial property is governed by the specific language of your insurance policy. Generally, fire and explosions are perils covered in commercial property.
But what if your business closes due to fire damage and you have a loss of business income or had to incur extra expenses to continue operations? Your policy may include coverage for such losses.
How Much Will I Get Paid for Fire Damage to My Property?
Generally, your insurance company will only be liable for damage to your property up to the specified limits of liability under each available coverage of your insurance policy. These figures can most easily be identified on the declarations page of your policy.
After inspections and supported inventories, estimates of the damage to your property will give a precise calculation of your losses. However, the method by which your insurance company settles your loss depends on the language of your policy and the extent of the damage.
If a portion of your property is destroyed due to fire damage, your insurance company may pay you on an actual cash value or replacement cost basis up to your policy limits. Again, the language of your policy is key. If you have a replacement cost policy, your insurance company may pay your claim in two stages. First, they will pay you the actual cash value of your property.
Actual cash value equals the replacement cost of your covered loss minus depreciation. This sum is often less than what is necessary to get repairs completed. However, most replacement cost policies require that you repair or replace your damaged property before your insurance company issues the rest of your claim money. Usually, repairs must be completed within a specified period of time.
If your insurance policy does not provide for settlement on a replacement cost basis, then you will probably only recover the actual cash value of your damaged property. This amount may be inadequate to replace your damaged property.
If the fire damage to your property results in a “total loss,” Section 862.053 of the Texas Insurance Code requires your insurance company, under most property insurance policies, to pay the full amount under the policy for each covered item destroyed. This is known as a “liquidated demand” and excludes payment for personal property.
For some properties, like your home, the policy will include a dollar amount for the limit of liability. For other properties, like other structures and fences, the coverage is often a percentage of the coverage limit for the dwelling.
For example, if your home is insured for $100,000 and the policy covers other structures for 10 percent of the dwelling limit, you would have $10,000 available for other structures.
If you need help filing a claim or had your existing fire damage claim delayed or denied, it is important that you contact a skilled fire damage attorney.
The attorneys at the Cedrick D. Forrest Law firm are experienced, willing, and ready to advocate on your behalf. We will fight to make sure that your rights are not jeopardized and that you are fully compensated for your fire damage.
Call us toll-free today to schedule a free consultation with a skilled fire damage attorney.
Read: What Can I Expect from My Insurer After Having Fire Damage?
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