Fire & Smoke Damage

What to expect from the effects of fire and smoke damage:

  • Direct fire and heat damage to building and contents occurs at the origin of the fire and spreads to other areas if not extinguished.
  • Fire can spread rapidly depending upon the combustible nature of materials in the fire area.
  • During a fire, smoke is driven by heat created by flames.
  • Smoke may move throughout a building.
  • Smoke also combines with humidity and will settle on surfaces and can form corrosive residues.
  • Sometimes direct fire damage is limited to a very small area like a pot on the stove that burned dry. A strong odour could result from this occurrence because smoke residue is on contents and surfaces.

If you have had a fire or smoke damage loss you should know:

  • Oil from your hands can permeate upholstery, walls, and woodwork, causing additional damage.
  • Quick response to remove the smoke residue from surfaces prone to the corrosive chemical burning of smoke residue is critical.
  • Cleaning and removing smoke is best achieved by a trained and experienced restoration contractor.
  • The nature of the cleaning and restoration process depends on the source, nature, and size of the fire.
  • Most smoke damaged contents and clothing affected by smoke can be cleaned successfully, depending upon the extent of heat and spread of the fire.
  • Cleaning contents are evaluated based on the likelihood of successfully cleaning contents and the cost to restore versus the actual value of contents.

What to expect when you report a claim:

  • Contact your broker as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Your broker will forward your claim to the insurance company and your claim will be assigned to one of our claims representatives.
  • In Emergency situations, contact the company directly, using the 24/7 claims assist telephone number you have been provided with.
  • A company claims representative will contact you, obtain the details of your loss and provide assistance with emergency services, repairs, and replacement of damaged property, and any other advice you may require.
  • The claims representative needs to document the cause and origin of the fire. They will talk to you about the circumstances, and speak to the fire department.
  • Sometimes the cause and origin is easily determined; other times experts will be called in to help determine the cause and origin of the fire.
  • A claims representative will meet you at your home to inspect the damages and coordinate necessary emergency services with a restoration contractor.
  • Emergency services may include securing the building, and or spot cleaning fixtures to prevent damage from corrosive soot residue.
  • Other services may include inspections of HVAC systems and restoring power to use lighting and restoration equipment.
  • The restoration contractor will explain what emergency services they will do, what you should and should not do, and ask you to sign an Authorization Form before work can begin.
  • Some fires require that your contents and furnishings be inventoried, packed and transported to a secure facility for cleaning and storage until your home is repaired. At this time you will be asked to remove valuables from your home.
  • The claims representative and restoration contractor will assist you with sorting out the contents that can be cleaned and restored and packed for removal versus contents that cannot be cleaned and restored.
  • If the damage from the fire makes your home unfit for occupancy your insurance policy provides coverage for the necessary additional living costs at a temporary location while your home is being repaired. Sometimes it is a matter of being out of your home for several days for limited repairs to your home, while extensive repairs may take weeks or months. The claims representative will provide immediate financial assistance to help pay for these costs.
  • An adjuster and a restoration contractor will carefully inspect the building damage in order to develop a repair estimate for restoring your home back to pre-loss condition.
  • A field claims representative will obtain an agreed repair price for the restoration of your home by a contractor.
    The repair estimate will be reviewed with you in detail.
  • Ultimately it is your home, and only you can authorize the repairs to be completed by a restoration contractor of your choice.
  • Sometimes contents can be successfully restored to the condition prior to the loss occurring, and sometimes contents cannot be restored. The Adjuster will work with you in completing a list of damaged contents and help you determine the current replacement values.
  • Contents that were removed from your home for cleaning and restoration will be returned to your home when you move back. You can get access to your belongings in storage if needed by scheduling a time with the restoration contractor’s representative to meet with you and provide access to the items you would like to inspect.
  • Once all the details about the repairs to your dwelling and contents are obtained the claims representative will contact you to discuss the claims settlement process

Burglary and Theft

If you have had a burglary or theft loss and have not already done so, you should:

  • Report the burglary and theft incident to police. The police will either come to your home or record the details of the occurrence over the phone.
  • Record the name of the police officer who took the report or came to your house. Also, record the incident occurrence report number assigned by the police so that you and the claims representative can reference the occurrence number when corresponding with the police.
  • Expect the police to ask for a complete list of any stolen contents together with an approximate value for each item. Determine where and how the thieves got into your home and if necessary arrange for temporary repairs to secure a broken door or window etc.
  • Contact your broker as soon as possible. Your broker will provide you with assistance and initial advice on what to do before reporting your claim to the company.
  • Ensure that you do not destroy or move evidence before calling the police; they may wish to inspect your home and take fingerprints.
  • Do Not dispose of damaged property without first checking with your broker and the claims representative.

What to expect in a burglary or theft claim.

  • A claims representative will contact you, obtain the details of the loss over the phone, explain the claims process and answer any questions you may have.
  • If you require emergency repair service the claims representative can dispatch a qualified restoration contractor to temporarily secure damaged entry points like a door or window or clean up broken glass or other damage from the break-in.
  • The restoration contractor will contact you and arrange a time to meet you at your home. An estimate for repairs is prepared by the contractor for approval and you will be asked to decide who you would like to repair the damage to your home.
  • The claims representative may also assign a field adjuster to come to your home to inspect any damage, obtain loss details from you, and document where the contents were located in your home when they were stolen.
  • Like the police, the claims representative will want to know exactly what was stolen and will ask for the details about the stolen items being claimed such as age, where purchased, and make and model number.
  • You will be asked to supply reasonable documentation where possible about the stolen property. Reasonable documentation includes original purchase receipts, warranty cards, owner manuals, appraisals, old repair invoices, and photographs.
  • The details gathered about the items being claimed to help us to ensure that the current replacement values are accurately determined.
  • Once all the details about the repairs to your home and current replacement values for stolen contents are obtained our claims representative will contact you to discuss the claims settlement process.

Water Damage

If you experience damage to your home from water that escapes from sources like the plumbing, hot water heater, dishwasher, sump hole and floor drain / or sump pump, the following information may be helpful:

  • Water typically spreads out and flows towards substructures (wood sub-floor, joists, etc.) and lower floors.
  • The extent of damage that water can cause to your home depends upon the volume and spread of water, the kind of materials affected and the source of the water.
  • Some water carries contaminants and should be considered hazardous (sewage water).
  • Porous materials, whether wood, drywall or other building materials will soak up water.
  • The resulting effects on contents like furniture and home finishes such as flooring, drywall or other building materials can include discolouration, swelling, detached adhesive bonds, delaminating, warping and a musty odour.

If you have had a water damage loss and have not already done so, you should:

  • Turn the water off at the main water shut- off valve to stop the flow of water if the water escape is from a water supply line or other appliance.
  • Not enter a room with standing water until electricity is turned off particularly when electrical appliances are standing in the water.
  • If you can, move your contents away from the affected areas.
  • Open drawers, closet and cabinet doors to enhance drying.
  • Avoid coming into contact with flood and sewage-contaminated water.
  • Minimize the water damage to your property by contacting your insurance company or a qualified water damage restoration contractor directly to ensure proper emergency measures to remove standing water and commence drying of your dwelling begins within 48-hours of it happening.
  • Know that even if water evaporates unassisted, it can cause damage to ceilings, walls, and contents.
  • Know that when the water damage is caused by an insured peril, your insurance policy provides coverage for the repairs to your dwelling finishes and contents affected by the water but not for repairing or replacing the appliance or plumbing line that the water escaped from.

What to expect when you report a claim:

  • Contact your broker as soon as possible after the incident occurs. Your broker will forward your claim to your insurance company and it will be assigned to a claims representative.
  • The claims representative will contact you promptly to obtain the details of your loss and provide assistance with emergency services, repairs or replacement of damaged property, and any other advice you may require.
  • The claims representative will offer emergency assistance by dispatching a qualified restoration contractor.
  • The restoration contractor will contact you and arrange a time to meet you at your home.
  • The focus of the claims representative and the restoration contractor will be to work with you to identify the source of the water escape, assess the scope of damage from the water and perform emergency services.
  • In order to assess the necessary emergency services, the restoration contractor will take moisture readings of the air inside and outside your home as well as moisture content readings of materials both directly affected by water and materials not affected by water. This is done to determine the amount of equipment needed to dry your home.
  • The restoration contractor will explain what emergency services they will do and why, what you should and should not do, and ask you to sign an Authorization Form before work can begin.
  • Ultimately it is your home, and only you can authorize the repairs to be completed by a restoration contractor of your choice.
  • Typically emergency work includes extracting all standing water, protecting contents and adjacent rooms, treating areas to prevent bacterial growth, and strategically setting high-velocity air movers and dehumidifiers to remove the excess moisture from the air and materials.
  • The goal of the emergency service is to dry your home back to normal moisture levels as quickly as possible in a controlled manner. The drying process usually takes three (3) to five (5) days.
  • The restoration contractor will inspect your home during the drying process to monitor the progress and reposition or remove drying equipment as needed.
  • If applicable, the cost of repairs to drywall, ceilings, and floors are included as part of your claim. These costs will be reviewed with you by the Claims Adjuster so that you can decide when, how and who you want to complete the repairs or replacement.
  • If you do not know or have anyone in mind to complete the repairs the company will have a list of reputable restoration contractors that could complete the work.
  • Sometimes contents can be successfully restored to the condition prior to the loss occurring, and sometimes contents cannot be restored. The Adjuster will work with you in completing a list of damaged contents and help you determine the current replacement values.
  • Once all the details about the repairs to your dwelling and contents are obtained the adjuster will contact you to discuss the claims settlement process.