Fire damages are commonly the most misunderstood and inadequately investigated all of the insured losses. When an insured’s home is partially lost to fire, it suffers both visible damage as well as invisible damage. The additional damages fall into three categories: Smoke, Mold, and loss in Market value.
The tell-tale odor of smoke will affect the marketability of a home and the price that can be brought for the home. Coupled with smoke is mold. During the course of a partial loss from fire, the fire department will spray an enormous amount of water on the fire. Much of this water creates severe moisture levels inside wall cavities and floor systems. It is a well accepted theory that mold will grow within 48 hours in such environments, yet the homes are usually left dormant for weeks or months while the claim is being settled. The result is that without immediate and proper drying these elevated levels of moisture in the walls, ceilings, floor systems and crawl spaces will setup the ideal environment for the development of significant fungal growth. Once again, if a wall or ceiling has not gotten so water damaged that it is sagging, soft or spongy the adjuster may write it up for a cleaning, sanitizing, and a paint job. Mold is a different animal from smoke and will be discussed in a different area of this web site.
However, it is well accepted that mold, once established, can continue to grow with 55% relative humidity levels, a common number here in the south. You don’t have to ask too many realtors what this can and will do to the resale value of a home that has either or both detectable levels of smoke and mold.
Normally the adjuster’s unwillingness to include a more extensive write-up is merely a matter that the adjusters are not an engineer, forensic scientist, or building contractor.
In a nutshell, they usually don’t have the necessary skills to evaluate hidden damages. If you suspect that there is adequate evidence that your home has significant smoke damage, more so than the carrier is willing to consider, you may want to consider seeking a second opinion.