Updated June 5, 2021 . AmFam Team
Estimating the cost of fire and smoke damage to your home can be difficult. There are many factors that go into calculating the cost of a house fire to homeowners, including the size of the property and the extent of the fire. And while the fire itself can do a lot of damage on its own, the smoke it gives off can cause just as much, if not more, of an issue with long-term damage to your home and belongings.
According to Thumbtack.com, costs can average anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000 to recover and restore your home after a small fire. Larger fires that destroy your roof or kitchen can cost as high as $50,000 and up.
Once you’ve made sure everyone is safe and that either the fire is extinguished or the fire department is handling it, you should contact your insurance agent to notify them. They can discuss your coverage with you and assess whether or not the event that caused the fire is covered.
After a fire occurs, one of the last things you might be thinking about is filing fire or smoke damage claims. Here are some important steps to take to file a claim after you’ve suffered smoke or fire damage:
Before you concern yourself with contacting your insurance company, ensure everyone is safe and accounted for.
While you repair, rebuild or search for a new house, determine if your current homeowners insurance policy includes loss of use coverage.
You will need to request a copy of the fire report from the responding fire department for the incident after it has been handled and — if necessary — investigated. Once you’ve received the all clear, you can enter your home and begin to document the damage.
Take pictures of the places and things that were affected by the fire. You should document all parts of the home in need of repair — including appliances and structural elements — and all items that can’t be recovered due to damage.
Use receipts if you have access to them. Your insurance agent can tell you how much personal property coverage you have.
An insurance adjuster will come to the scene after you’ve notified your insurance agent. They’ll gather their own evidence and document the damage themselves. You’ll want to make sure you have all communications with them in writing in case a new adjuster is assigned to your claim after the first one has surveyed the damage.
Your renters coverage can protect your finances in many important ways. If you’re renting, getting details right on how you’re covered for smoke damage can be a challenge sometimes. For instance, did you know that renters insurance covers smoke damage you cause to other rental units? If your rental is damaged by smoke that’s the result of a covered loss, odds are you’ll be covered – up to your policy’s limit.
Covered losses for renters typically include events that are sudden and accidental in nature. Fires that abruptly occur while cooking are a good example of when coverage would usually apply. And if a neighbor’s rental space is damaged by that kind of event, your coverage could extend to restore other rental spaces too. Given the high price tag to remediate smoke damage, your renter’s coverage could pay for itself many times over if the unexpected happens.
Another key benefit of renters insurance is that you’ll also have additional living expense coverage to help pay for the cost of relocating and living elsewhere while your rental is being rebuilt. “Loss of use” coverage is just one of many great reasons for you to pick up a renters policy.
Typical costs for clean-up after a fire has occurred are between $3,000 and $26,000. Smoke remediation itself can cost between $200 to $1,000 depending on how much furniture, clothing and carpet requires deodorizing. Since smoke will usually enter your heating and cooling ducts, you’ll also want to consider an HVAC system evaluation, which can cost between $150 and $500, with repair costing upwards of $1,000 if needed.
Unless you’re a fire damage restoration professional, hire a contractor to handle the smoke remediation and repairs. A lot of homeowners don’t understand the extent of smoke damage after a fire, which could lead to missing crucial parts of the home that need repair. This means exposing yourself and your loved ones to constant smoke inhalation.
Smoke damage can contain toxic chemicals which can be harmful to your health, so it’s best to leave smoke restoration to the professionals who know what they’re doing. Contractors that specialize in remediation of fire and smoke damage are experts in making certain that there are no dangerous chemicals remaining and that there are no lingering smoke odors following the fire.
A smoke damage restoration professional will know to consider things like:
And they can help pinpoint whether thermal fogging or ozone smoke removal is the best option for your home’s smoke damage. These methods both aim to permanently remove smoke, either through the use of chemical mist or the use of an ozone generator.
Angie’s List estimates the average cost of cigarette smoke remediation at about $4,100. What you pay depends on the distribution of smoke throughout the house. It’s possible that every room will need to be treated if you want to get rid of cigarette smoke damage entirely.
Whether you’ve just purchased the home of a former smoker or have quit recently yourself, removing damage from cigarette smoke is something many people want done with their home. This service is not covered by homeowners insurance, so you’ll need to cover the costs for this work.
Cigarette smoke remediation can be done in much the same way as fire smoke remediation. Professional contractors can perform thermal fogging or use an ozone generator. If the smell is not that strong or is only in one part of the house, you can use an air purifier with a HEPA filter, air out the room over several days and clean surfaces with vinegar and hot water.
If it’s in fabrics like curtains, clothes or carpet, you’ll need to do several rounds of washing and air drying — preferably outside in the sun — before the smell is removed completely. Following a thorough cleaning, sealing the ceiling and wall surfaces with a good quality stain sealer is critical, followed by a fresh coat of paint to make the room smell fresh and look clean and new again.
If you want to understand more about what your homeowners insurance covers when it comes to fire and smoke damage, reach out to your agent to learn more about your policy. They can help you understand how your insurance can help you after a fire has occurred and how to file a claim should you be affected by one.