Fire damage to your property is a significant loss, and the claim process following the damage can be grueling. Unfortunately, the consequential damages to a commercial property due to a fire are often minimized or overlooked altogether. These “hidden damages” resulting from a property fire are often more extensive than the physical damage. Without conducting proper research, the extent of the damage may not be prevalent. Therefore, as a property owner, it is imperative to do your due diligence to ensure all potential damages are addressed. Some of these damages may include:
Smoke and Soot Damage
Smoke and soot, the natural byproducts of combustion, have a pervasive nature that can infiltrate every crevice of a property. Beyond leaving unsightly stains on surfaces, smoke particles can penetrate deep into furniture, fabrics, and even the structure of a building. The acidic nature of smoke residues can cause corrosion and discoloration over time, further exacerbating the damage.
When addressing smoke and soot damage, it is imperative to not only ensure the testing and cleanup are handled by a professional, but it is also dire to ensure any and all potential concerns are being appropriately addressed. Some major considerations that can add additional complexities to addressing soot and smoke damage are:
- Cleaning and repairing asbestos materials
- Multi-family properties and the impact on adjacent property owners or tenants.
- The potential for soot or smoke damage to be too extensive to certain items to clean and proving the need for replacement.
Failure to properly address smoke and/or soot damage can cause long-term issues not only to the physical property, which may include damage to electronics, duct systems, and even plumbing, but to residents, employees, and tenants’ health as well. Therefore, as the property owner, you must ensure the damages are addressed and repaired correctly to avoid the potential of future liabilities.
Ironically, water damage is an accompanying consequence of firefighting efforts. While water is indispensable in extinguishing flames, excessive moisture can saturate building materials, leading to swelling, warping, and potential structural instability. Additionally, stagnant water left untreated can become a breeding ground for mold and mildew, posing health risks to occupants. Therefore, it is imperative to ensure water damage is addressed as soon as possible to ensure continued damages are avoided, and other damages can be appropriately handled. A professional restoration service can ensure that all damages are correctly remediated and any mold or mildew growth is avoided.
The intense heat generated during a fire can compromise the structural integrity of a building. High temperatures can cause metal to weaken and concrete to crack, jeopardizing the stability of walls, floors, and ceilings. Even if the external structure appears intact, hidden damage may lurk beneath the surface, necessitating thorough inspection and repairs by qualified experts.
The lingering odor of smoke can persist long after the flames have been extinguished, permeating porous materials and creating an unpleasant living environment. Eradicating these persistent odors can often require specialized techniques such as ozone treatments or thermal fogging to neutralize the smell at its source.
Electrical and Mechanical Damage
Fire can wreak havoc on electrical and mechanical systems within a property. Excessive heat can melt wiring, damage appliances, and render electronic devices inoperable. Even if these systems escape direct fire damage, exposure to extreme temperatures, water, and/or smoke can compromise their functionality, necessitating comprehensive inspections, testing, and potential replacements.
Handling Fire Damage Insurance Claims
As the various damages stack up, it can be challenging to know where to start. Navigating through the multiple experts who potentially will need to be involved, sorting through their inspection findings and data, and knowing how to properly package and present it all to the insurance company to recover necessary repair funds can be a lengthy and time-consuming process. Adding in potential business interruption claims and navigating tenants or other property owners all increase the complexity of the process, as well as coverage determinations and payouts. Fire damage insurance claims are nearly impossible to handle alone, but the good news is that there are many resources available to assist in this process.
Public Adjuster Involvement
Public Adjusters are a great solution to assist in the complexities of the fire damage insurance claim process. A public adjuster can help engage the proper experts to investigate the damages while also helping to combine the findings into a complete representation that accurately details the repair and replacement needs as covered under the insurance policy. Due to the magnitude of the damages resulting from a fire and the need for extensive testing to ensure the continued safety of the property and tenants’ health, having a professional claims representative representing your interests throughout the process can make a significant difference. Be sure to have someone in your corner to not only make an impact on the final settlement of the claim but to also alleviate the stress and time requirements that can stem from a fire damage insurance claim.
Our team is always here as a resource for all your property damage insurance claim needs. Fill out the contact information below, and someone from our team will reach out to discuss what resources we can provide and how our solutions can make a difference for you.