Fire and smoke claims

Fire losses can devastate homes and businesses, burning and melting property.  Fire losses involve more than just burned property.  Smoke can spread throughout a building and cause damage in places the flames never reached.  Buildings and contents can be destroyed while the fire is being extinguished.

Even though almost every property insurance policy is written to insure against fire losses, insurance companies don’t pay for every fire loss, or pay enough to restore the property to its pre-fire condition.

Insurance companies try to deny fire and other insurance claims for many different reasons.  Sometimes, insurance companies accuse insureds of arson and fraud and try to blame the property owner for the fire.  In other cases, an insurance company will deny a fire loss because there was no fire alarm or smoke detector (which insurance policies call “protective safeguards”).  Some insurance companies attempt to void the entire policy based on the application for insurance or some policy condition that the insurer says wasn’t met.  Claims can be legitimately denied under the right circumstances.  But, for a claim to be denied for legitimate reasons, that denial must be supported by the policy language, by the law, and by the facts.  Often the support for a claim denial is less clear than what is set forth in the denial letter, and the denial can be challenged with contrary evidence, experts, and legal argument.

Vandalism Damage


claim investigations for fire losses

It is sometimes possible to avoid a denial all together, if a claim and supporting evidence is presented to the insurance company during the investigation.  Insurance companies can conduct extensive and lengthy investigations of fire losses, which include demanding Examinations Under Oath of the insureds, requesting access to financial information, and seeking many documents.  Insurance policies require policyholders to cooperate with claim investigations.  But, it is important for policyholders to be aware that claim investigations are sometimes being used to establish grounds for denying the claim.  If you think this might be happening to you, an insurance lawyer can help you navigate the claim investigation process.

If your insurance claim has been denied, if you believe it might be denied, or if the insurance company refused to pay your claim in full, please contact Jason Herman.  There is no cost to having your claim reviewed.  If you decide to fight your insurance company, contingency fees are available, where any legal fee comes out of new money recovered for you, with nothing owed if nothing is recovered.