Fire & Smoke Damage
Damage from a fire can be very expensive and emotionally crippling. A fire can shut down a business for a considerable period of time, can displace hundreds or thousands of occupants or employees, and/or can leave a family homeless.
Typical fire damages include:
- Roof damage
- Structural and non-structural building component damage
- Damage to personal property or business property such as appliances, furniture, and/or business equipment
- Damage to plumbing, electrical, and HVAC
- Damage to technological systems, like televisions, sound systems, and computers
In some circumstances, the smoke and soot associated with a fire can actually cause more damage than the fire itself. Smoke and soot damaged items include:
- Clothing, bedding, linens, furniture
- Computer and electrical equipment
- HVAC systems, including the ductwork
- Walls, ceilings, and insulation
- Business equipment and/or personal property
- Structural and non-structural building components
Accidental or Intentional Fire?
After receiving notice of a fire claim, property insurers routinely hire their own private fire investigators in addition to the local fire marshal conducting its own independent investigation. In some circumstances, they do not even inform their own policyholders they hired the private fire investigator until after their investigation has been completed.
It is common practice by property insurers after a fire claim to send a Release to their policyholder and request that they sign it and return it to them immediately. While an insurance company is entitled to certain information after a fire loss, many times these Releases are overly broad and request information that they are not entitled to receive. They send these overly broad Releases to their policyholders in order to obtain personal and private information from banks, credit unions, employers, credit card companies, bookkeepers/accountants, medical providers, and even the Internal Revenue Service. Releases should always be reviewed by an attorney before you sign them and provide them to your insurer.
Some property insurers have even been known to assign teams of private investigators and adjusters to locate the friends, family members, neighbors, and work colleagues of their policyholders, and then question them about personal and private matters like:
- Is the policyholder in financial distress?
- Have they ever mentioned the possibility of filing for bankruptcy or foreclosure?
- Do they have any personal, professional, gambling, or any other type of debt(s)?
- Are they currently experiencing any personal and/or financial issues such as divorce, child support, business failure(s), alcohol or drug addiction, and/or any other circumstances that could possibly motivate them to file an insurance claim?
The answers to these types of questions are all taken into consideration by an insurance company when it conducts a fire investigation. If for any reason they believe that the fire was intentionally set, not only can they deny the claim, but they may even refer it to law enforcement for potential criminal investigation and/or prosecution.
Contact our Fire and Smoke Damage Attorneys Today
While not a 100% guarantee, be aware that if you file a fire damage with your insurer, and during the course of its investigation they insist that you be placed under oath by a court reporter and provide testimony about the facts and circumstances of the fire, otherwise known as an examination under oath, or “EUO”, there is the real and distinct possibility that somebody at the insurance company believes that the circumstances regarding the fire are ‘suspicious’. Proceed with caution. Fire claims are not only about your insurance policy but may have unintended criminal law implications. If they demand that you provide an EUO, seek legal representation immediately. The attorneys at Kubiak Law Group understand the law, your insurance policy, and the rules and regulations as they pertain to fire claims. We have the experience, knowledge, and resources required to fight insurance companies to protect your rights.
We offer free consultations, the same day return of calls and emails, and 24/7/365 availability. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and learn how we can help with your insurance claim.