Every 86 seconds in the United States, a home fire is reported. Fires are both terrifying and devastating, causing injuries, death, loss of property and loss of a sense of personal security. People who have experienced a fire are often reeling from the trauma, trying to put their lives back together while negotiating a claim with their insurance company at the same time.
Thousands of Fires, Enormous Losses
The National Fire Protection Association provides a number of statistics about fires in the United States. The following numbers illustrate just how common fires are.
- In 2015, there were over 1.3 million fires in the United States, causing 2,685 civilian fatalities, 15,700 civilian injuries and over $14 billion in property damage.
- Of those fires, 501,500 were structure fires, 204,500 were vehicle fires, and 639,500 were outside and other fires.
- In 2013, the NFPA reported that fire departments in the United States responded to an average of 3,340 fires at office properties every year from 2007 to 2011.
- From 2010 to 2014, fire departments responded to an estimated average of 358,300 home structure fires per year.
- The NFPA also estimates that an average American household can expect an average of 5 home fires in a lifetime.
Common Causes of Fires
A fire can be due to any number of causes. Here are a few of the most common:
- Home appliances
- Personal electronic devices
- The electrical wiring of a building
- Smoking products, such as cigarettes or cigars
- Gas ovens or stoves
- Christmas trees
Why You Need an Advocate
It is in the wake of a fire that a homeowner or business owner is their most vulnerable. It is also at this time that the property owner depends on the insurance company to fulfill its obligation and fairly compensate him for his loss.
Fire claims, in particular, have a reputation of resulting in lower payments that they should. It is also true that you are more likely to receive payments that more accurately reflect your damages if you have an attorney than you would if you did not.
Holding Insurance Companies Accountable
Remember that your fire insurance policy is a legal contract — it is legally binding on the insurance company. The insurance company cannot pick and choose which terms they are going to honor and which they are going to ignore. However, an insurance adjuster may not be very forthcoming about what your benefits actually are, and the insurance policy itself is likely to be confusing if you are unfamiliar with how they work.
When you are pursuing a homeowner claim for fire damage to your home or a claim on your business’s fire insurance coverage, remember that the insurance company will often do their best to minimize the payments to a policyholder.
It is crucial that you speak to a fire damage lawyer immediately after a home fire or commercial fire. Attorneys that have experience in dealing with insurance companies are very familiar with the process and the tactics used by an insurance company to minimize their payments.
Steve Heisler can help you determine what steps you need to take to adequately protect your family or your business. He will stand up to the insurance company to make sure you get the payment you deserve for your losses.
Steven Heisler has been fighting insurance companies for close to a quarter of a century. If you have been a victim of a Maryland commercial fire or residential fire, call Steve now for a free, no-obligation, private consult. Call (410) 625-4878 or use the online inquiry form on this website.