Things to Consider When Filing Commercial Fire Damage Insurance Claim
Fires are unpredictable and devastating. The safety of a building or facility’s occupants is the priority after commercial fire damage, but the damage can cost an organization significantly. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there has been a 22% increase in nonresidential building fires and losses for the 10-year period of 2011 to 2020. After a commercial fire damage, can your organization recover? Is anything salvageable?
Business interruption is a major consideration after a facility has been damaged. For most organizations, if their facility is inoperable, revenue and production are lost.
When your commercial property suffers from a fire, your first step should be to contact your insurance company to start a commercial fire insurance claim. Your second call should be to a restoration company, like BMS CAT, to help restore, rebuild, and recover your property so your business can get back up and running.
Commercial Fire Insurance Claim
Having been in the commercial fire damage industry since 1948, one thing we have learned is that every commercial fire damage is different. No two fires are the same, and no two buildings or facilities are the same. That means that every commercial fire insurance claim is different as well.
However, when it comes to commercial fire insurance claims, most claims encompass:
Emergency Response Repairs
Before our emergency response teams can begin an assessment of the disaster, we must first pinpoint potential safety hazards to our employees. After that, we can distinguish structural damage and damage that threatens the facility to weather elements or passers-by.
Our emergency response repairs help protect your facility from theft or an unauthorized person from coming into your property. In addition, our emergency disaster repair services are put in place to prevent further damage from occurring to the property – such as weather intrusion. Examples of our emergency restoration services include:
- Temporary Repairs to the Roof
- Boarding Up Entrance Points
- Temporary Wall Installation
- Temporary Fencing
Potential Water Damage
Many times, if there is fire damage, there is also water damage. This is due to firefighter suppression efforts, along with automatic sprinklers located inside the building or facility.
Water is extremely damaging to most common materials and electronics. If water can be removed from the affected items, damage can be reduced. If items are left in standing water, they will continue to deteriorate even after surface water is removed. Additionally, mold and mildew can cause irreparable damage to building materials and contents, even after all the standing water is gone.
Water damage restoration services might need to be included in the commercial fire insurance claim. By removing excess water and reducing the moisture content inside the building or facility through dehumidification, the property can recover from water damage and begin the fire restoration process.
Smoke and Soot Damage
Fire can damage and destroy a building and its contents, but smoke and soot also poses considerable risk. Soot is a particulate that can spread far from the source of origin and creates a residue and an odor. The materials burned during the fire has a direct effect on the ease or difficulty of a restoration effort.
Wood and paper soot is not as greasy or oily as soot produced from the burning of plastic furniture, carpet, or insulation. When plastics burn, they produce hydrochloric, hydrofluoric, hydro bromic and other reactive agents in varying amounts. Even a light acid exposure may cause corrosion. The higher the humidity the more active the corrosive elements will be.
Restoration and Structure & Contents Cleaning
Restoration to fire damaged facility and contents, including paper documents is possible. By removing burned materials and minimizing the humidity through dehumidification and careful decontamination, a facility can return to operation and minimize losses following a fire. Soot must either be removed or sealed in place to remove its odor. Very rarely can smoke odors be “aired out”. Further measures will need to be taken to remove or seal the soot particulate. Vapor barriers can be constructed out of heavy plastic sheeting, which seal off the burned area(s) or protect sensitive areas.
Contents affected by fire, soot and smoke may be so heavily damaged that they require replacement. Test cleaning can confirm if an item is restorable, however, it must be cost effective to restore, as opposed to replacing. A common question that is asked is: “What’s the value of the piece?” Restoration of contents can be performed on-site or off-site.
Sometimes the damage from a commercial fire is contained to the contents of a facility and a few structural pieces. Often, however, significant structural damage has occurred because of the damage. Once the restoration phase of the project has completed, the facility may still not be back to normal. This is when reconstruction comes into play.
According to Wikipedia, the term “reconstruction” means, “returning a damaged building to a known earlier state by the introduction of new materials.” Each of our locations have a dedicated reconstruction department that can help return the facility’s structure to its pre-loss condition.
Commercial Fire Damage Prevention
Preparation and safety prior to any incident is the best way to minimize the effects of a fire. Check automatic fire-extinguishing systems regularly. There is sometimes a reluctance to install automatic sprinklers for fear that the water will damage the contents. Consider, however, that water damaged items can usually be restored, and ashes cannot.
It is important to have a plan in place for a disaster. It is highly recommended that you pre-contract with a restoration company before a loss occurs. This gets any administrative “red tape” out of the way, expedites response times, and allows you to carefully pre-qualify the service for your exact needs. At BMS CAT, we offer the Priority Disaster Response Program for commercial clients at no cost.
Should your facility encounter commercial fire damage, it is important to rely on a professional restoration and reconstruction company to help restore, recover and rebuild your property. With more than 30 locations across the nation, contact our emergency response teams 24/7/365.