Has your home been damaged or destroyed by a fireplace or chimney fire?
When wood is burned, smoke that passes through the chimney can cool down and solidify. These solid smoke particles are called creosote, which is a flammable substance that can cause chimney fires.
There is good news and bad news when it comes the ability to make valid claims on your homeowners’ insurance related to chimney damage.
In general, damage that occurs as a result of a sudden, unexpected incident will usually be covered. Damage resulting from normal wear and tear is typically never covered. Ultimately, however, the final decision regarding what is covered by homeowners’ insurance when your chimney needs repair is determined by your insurance policy, the company you are insured with, and the agent you work with on a claim.
Common Chimney Issues Covered by Insurance
The top two issues that homeowners make successful insudrance claims on with regard to chimney damage are in the event that:
One, the top of the chimney is struck by lightning and
Two, a chimney fire occurs and results in damage.
What these two events have in common is that they are both sudden and unexpected.
Categorizing Chimney Damage
Major weather incidents can result in chimney damage that is potentially covered by homeowners’ insurance. For instance, if a tree falls on your home and damages the chimney, repair will be covered. Wind damage that affects the chimney is often not covered; it depends upon your policy.
What is tricky about chimney damage is that much of the damage that occurs often can’t meet the criteria of being sudden and unexpected. For instance, if a chimney has been in a state of disrepair, with missing mortar and crumbling bricks, replacing it is probably not covered as a result of it eventually collapsing. Damage caused by the tumbling chimney, such as on your patio, may, however, be covered. Reading the fine print and working with your insurance agent can be of great help. Having an agent who is equally concerned with great customer service and saving money where feasible is good – one focused on improving the company image by being flexible regarding claims is even better.
Coverage for Chimney Fires
Chimney fires can do extensive damage not only to the chimney but also to the home. It is not unusual for the flue to be damaged because of the intense heat of a chimney fire. Flue replacement and all other types of chimney repair are covered in this case. There are occasions when an insurance company will say they are going to deny such a claim because they are unsatisfied with the level of maintenance done prior to the chimney fire. It’s true that neglecting to properly maintain a chimney increases the likelihood that a hazardous chimney fire will occur. The lack of maintenance is rarely, however, a valid excuse for the insurance company to shirk their responsibility to pay for repairs.
Claims Secrets: To Pay or Not to Pay
Although a homeowners’ insurance policy is all in writing, there is definitely wiggle room on determining what will be covered and what will not, and this includes matters related to chimneys. The following are a few insider tips regarding chimney-related claims that get paid but easily may not have been:
- If there is no solid proof that a sudden and unexpected event did not occur.
- If you have a claim-free history, have been with the insurance company for many years, and you have packaged insurance.
- If the adjuster is inexperienced and pays on a claim that should have been denied.
- If a homeowner is rather unreasonable and pushy and refuses to give in to claim denial. This can create the sense of being too much hassle for the insurance company; so they pay.
- If you are benefiting from some kind of great karma. A claim gets paid and you have no idea why.
No one likes to hear that a chimney flue or some other type of expensive repair is needed. Just remember that taking false actions to try to get something covered by insurance that wouldn’t otherwise be — such as intentionally starting a chimney fire — are criminal and not worth whatever money might potentially be saved by a fraudulent act.
The best way to avoid chimney damage is to keep up with annual inspections and needed cleaning.
Get in touch with us today. We provide professional chimney inspections throughout the Pittsburgh area, including surrounding communities. Call 412-751-5525 for an appointment to meet with a trusted chimney expert at Absolute Chimney & Restoration.