Fires & Homeowner Claim Attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee
Approximately one-third of all claims against homeowner insurance policies are spurred by fires and lightning strikes. These incidents result in payment of claims exceeding $8 billion annually. Insurance companies—whose profits depend on limiting payouts—do not make it easy for homeowners to garner the benefits of their insurance policies. In fact, they can make it extremely difficult at a time when you need someone on your side to help you.
At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, our team understands only too well how frustrating it can be when you need the coverage you have paid for to be there when you need it. That’s why we are dedicated to helping you get the compensation you deserve.
If you have suffered losses from a home fire in Knoxville, Farragut, or in the surrounding counties of Anderson, Blount, Union, Maryville, Oak Ridge, or Clinton, Tennessee, we can help.
If you have a homeowners insurance claim to file after a fire,
don’t do it alone. Let us help.
What is a Homeowners Insurance Claim?
Most homeowners pay premiums for an insurance policy covering their property. If you have a mortgage for your home, your lender will require it to protect their investment. If you own your home outright, coverage may be optional but extremely wise. If you have no insurance policy covering your dwelling and the property it stands on, you will pay for losses from home fires out of your own pocket.
A homeowners insurance claim is a claim filed against the coverage provided in your policy when something damages your property or someone in it. For example, if your roof is damaged by hail and needs to be repaired or replaced, your homeowner’s insurance policy will likely cover the cost. If a visitor trips and falls over a toy your child left on the sidewalk and that visitor is injured, liability coverage in your policy may cover their medical expenses and other damages.
There are two key considerations in any homeowners insurance claim. First is whether the damage is covered or excluded under your specific policy. Second is the dollar limits of coverage under your policy. No matter the cost to repair damage or cover a liability claim, your policy will pay money for damages only up to the policy limits.
Do Homeowners Insurance Policies Cover Fires?
Since homeowner policies are designed to protect your home in the event of unintentional events, virtually all of them insure your home against fire damage. Your coverage will likely extend to damage caused by such perils as candles, stovetop and grease fires, fires ignited by electrical wiring, those caused by lightning, and children playing with matches.
There can be exclusions to this coverage, so you should check your policy. For example, damage from wildfires if your home is located in an area with high potential for them is probably excluded. You may need to purchase a separate policy or a rider, which will be expensive, to cover wildfire damage.
Moreover, policies exclude coverage of damage caused by the intentional setting of a fire when it is set or caused to be set by the policyholder. If someone else sets fire to your home, you will probably be able to access your coverage benefits so long as you had nothing to do with the incident.
What Types of Coverages are in My Homeowners Policy?
Your policy probably sets limits for specific coverages, including coverage for the structure, personal property, liability, and for the time you cannot inhabit your home due to damage.
Dwelling coverage compensates you for damages to the structure of your home itself and its materials. That would include items such as roofs, walls, floors and floor coverings, heating, air, and ventilation systems, and lighting and electrical systems.
Personal property coverage insures the nonstructural items lost in house fires, such as clothing, jewelry, furniture, appliances, books, electronics, and décor.
Personal liability coverage would provide coverage if your house fire damaged a neighbor’s home or property or if someone was injured on your property.
Loss of use coverage provides compensation for expenses you may incur as a result of a fire. For example, you may need a rental car while yours is being repaired. This coverage can also pay expenses if you are unable to live at your home while it is being repaired or rebuilt or while looking for a new place to live.
Remember that there are limits to how much the insurance company will pay for the coverage you have purchased. If you have artwork, jewelry, or electronics that are particularly valuable, you may want to pay for additional personal property coverage to increase your policy limits. Additional coverage for such items will require that they be appraised and inventoried.
You should also review your personal liability coverage limits and purchase additional coverage to increase them. Some homeowners buy an umbrella policy which works with your homeowner’s policy to provide additional liability protection.
How Do I File a Homeowners Insurance Claim?
Following a house fire, you will need to provide your homeowners insurance carrier with your name and policy number, a description of the incident, the date and time it occurred, and a copy of the fire department report. The insurance adjuster will then be able to open a claim and assign a claim number.
If anyone else was involved in the fire, you will need to provide that information to the adjuster as well. For example, if the fire is arson, you will need a copy of the law enforcement report and case number as well as the fire department’s investigation. If there are witnesses to the fire, witnesses who can testify as to the contents lost in the fire, or if the fire was accidentally started by someone in your household or a visitor, you will need to provide names and contact details.
Additionally, you will need to provide an inventory of items lost and damaged by the fire and supporting documentation for these items. This could be titles to property such as vehicles or receipts, or photos of personal property in the home.
In many cases, you will meet with resistance from the insurance adjuster about ownership of certain items and their value. A shed covered under dwelling limits is one thing. If that shed was full of power tools, it’s another.
There is another tricky area insurance companies use to devalue claims. It involves the cost of the dwelling and personal property lost versus the cost to replace them. Hiring an attorney with experience in representing clients in fire and homeowners insurance claims can be invaluable.
Fire & Homeowner Claim Attorneys in Knoxville, Tennessee
Whether a fire did minor or major damage to your home, your homeowners insurance carrier will look for ways to pay you as little as possible. At the Law Office of Joshua S. Reed, our team knows how to fight for fair compensation for our clients. If you have a homeowners insurance claim to file after a fire, don’t do it alone. Let us help. Reach out to our team today to talk about your claim.