In California, insurance may cover smoke damage from a wildfire. However, your policy’s coverage type and limits will apply, so the best thing to do is to check your own policy.
It can also help to ensure you have a specific type of coverage for your damages. For example, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), you may need coverage for the structure of your house and any personal belongings. You may also look to see if you have additional coverage, such as for additional living expenses (ALE) if your property damage displaced you.
What Is Covered After Smoke Damage from a Wildfire?
A standard homeowner’s insurance policy typically covers any structural damage resulting from smoke damage, including outbuildings, such as a garage. You may need specific fire coverage, though. If you rent, you may need to have renters insurance to cover any of your personal belongings.
If you own a condo, you should check your co-op policy to see what type of coverage you have. Similarly, if you are a business owner, your policy should cover any structural damage, but additional coverage may award a portion of your missed profits while your business is down. It all depends on the specifics of your insurance policy.
Insurers in California Receive Criticism for Denying Smoke Claims
Any time you make a homeowners insurance claim, an adjuster could attempt to reduce or outright deny your claim. With the unprecedented number of wildfires wreaking havoc throughout California, the state has had to step in due to the response many homeowners are receiving for their smoke damage claims.
For example, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is reviewing how California FAIR Plan Property Insurance handles smoke claims. This insurer offers coverage to many homeowners and business owners who cannot get insurance through the normal market. Many times, the insurer denied claims for smoke damage from wildfires, such as the McKinney Fire. The commissioner called for it to begin processing smoke claims and compensating damages promptly and fairly.
The San Francisco Chronicle notes that California insurers are attempting to limit coverage for smoke damage caused by wildfires. Policy underwriters and insurance companies’ lawyers made it a point to add clauses restricting specific types of damage in homeowners policies. This happened as wildfires grew worse over the past couple of years in California.
Smoke Damage Can Cause Health Issues
One of the reasons the California Insurance Commissioner is so adamant about fighting insurers for denying smoke damage claims is that it can force a family to live in a hazardous environment. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoke damage from wildfires can cause severe short-term and long-term health risks.
For example, inhaling smoke from a wildfire can cause the following health issues:
- Irritation in the respiratory system
- Worsening chronic heart and lung diseases
- Coughing and labored breathing
- A runny nose
- Irritated sinuses
- Chest pain
- An asthma attack
- Stinging eyes
- A scratchy throat
- A fast heartbeat
No one should live in a home that exposes them to toxic substances and the health conditions that can follow.
What to Do if Your Smoke Damage Claim Is Undervalued or Denied
If you are about to make a smoke damage claim or you received a denial from your insurer, our lawyers can help. You have a right to legal representation when making a claim or appealing a denied claim.
Our lawyers understand you and your family are already going through one of the worst times. We want to help you receive the money you need to repair your home and make it safe for you and your family.
How a Lawyer Can Help If Your Insurance Denies Your Claim for Smoke Damage from a Wildfire
Our lawyers go to bat for our clients to help them get their property back to a livable condition. We can help you:
- Investigate the smoke damage on your property
- Gather evidence of property damage related to the smoke from a wildfire
- File your smoke damage claim
- Negotiate for a fair settlement
- File a lawsuit
- Represent you in a trial
We can review your homeowner’s or business owner’s insurance policy to see what coverage you have and fight to get you a fair settlement. If we must take legal action on your behalf, we will not hesitate.
Call Nadrich & Cohen if Your Property Suffered Smoke Damage from a Wildfire
You have enough on your plate when finding a temporary residence and picking up the pieces after a wildfire. You don’t have to worry about fighting with an insurer over a smoke damage claim. Our lawyers can handle the claims process for you and seek the fair compensation you deserve.
Call Nadrich & Cohen today for a free consultation. Also, check out our client testimonials to see why past clients enjoyed working with us.