public adjuster

Puff Back Damage and the Insurance Claim Process

Imagine for a Moment

You’re pulling in to your home after a long day of work. As you step out of the car, you notice that the fall air is getting nippier by the day. Winter is right around the corner, and the cooler temperatures are already blowing in. You realize it’s about that time to start up the boiler to combat the incoming weather. The boiler starts up no problem, so you go about your night as usual.

You wake up the next day, and follow your normal routine, heading off to work bright and early. After another long day, you arrive back home, open the door, and flip on the light switch. When you flip on the light switch, you take a second to look back at it, as it oddly feels oily to the touch. This isn’t normal, and has you puzzled. You slowly take a look around the room, and notice that is slightly darker than usual. It’s not too much darker, but definitely noticeable.

Puzzled once again but unsure of what to make of this slightly darker room, you shrug your shoulders, and continue on. As you step further into your home, you start to smell a subtle scent. You investigate a little and discover it isn’t the stove, it isn’t the dishwasher, it isn’t the refrigerator, and it isn’t anything else right in front of you. You think to yourself, “Must be the garbage outside or something; no big deal.”.

You put your bags down and walk over to the faucet to wash your hands. When turning the faucet handle, you feel that oily residue once again. “Strange..” you think to yourself.

With your eyebrows now furrowed as you continue to be puzzled with the strange happenings you have walked into tonight, you walk into your living room and plop down on the couch. Your eyes wander to the ceiling, and you notice a black cobweb in the corner. Black cobweb, what on earth? You start thinking to yourself that something must be going on. Then it hits you–you turned on the boiler for the first time in about a year yesterday. You head downstairs to take a look. When you step foot into your utility room, the thickness of black oil and soot becomes much more apparent. The room is completely covered in soot.

Now what do you do?

Puff Back Damage

Puff back damage is nothing to mess around with. Puff backs occur when your boiler or furnace misfires, releasing an oily soot or smoke into your home or business. This soot contains vanadium and sulphuric acid. These items can have adverse health effects if touched or inhaled, especially for children and pets. The soot is highly acidic, and can even erode metal surfaces if not cleaned quickly and properly. This soot sticks, collects, and spreads like a film across walls, ceilings, floors, cabinets, and other surfaces. It ruins garments, linens, drapes, and upholstered goods. This soot will find a way into nearly every item in your home or business that is not isolated from exposure since the particles circulate through the air, air ducts, and ventilation system.

What to Look For

Oily surfaces might be your first clue, but is not always a definite indicator. You can really detect the presence of soot by inspecting areas in rooms where cobwebs can be found. This includes the upper corners of rooms and on ceiling fans. If soot is present, the cobwebs will appear black, rather than white or light grey.

What do you Do?

While we wish cleaning up this soot was as easy as simply breaking out the cleaning supplies, this isn’t the case. You should never try to clean this soot yourself because you will smear the oil, getting it on your hands and clothes, and make the situation worse by ingraining it further into the surface you are trying to clean it from. Soot cleaning is very difficult. It is extremely time intensive and requires specialized skills, industrial grade cleaning materials, and a lot of professional labor.

In other words—soot cleaning costs a ton of money.

After puff back damage, soot cleaning bills can easily exceed $20,000 to mitigate damages, remove the soot, and restore a single-family home to pre-loss condition. Fortunately, most insurance policies cover this type of damage.

If you think that you have soot damage from a puff back, you may need to file a claim with your insurance company to get the funds needed to repair your property.

Filing Frustrations

Actually filing a claim with your insurance carrier is often just the beginning.

If you choose to file a property damage claim, your insurance company will assign an adjuster who must inspect the property. Depending upon the adjuster’s schedule, it may take days, or even weeks for your property to get inspected. Once the inspection actually occurs, adjusters tend to drag their feet since they often operate on 30-day reporting cycles, which means there is plenty of time for your claim to languish while the adjuster’s attention is elsewhere. This makes it very easy for your claim to drag on for months at a time—while you are without livable housing or a functional business.

When you finally receive compensation, you may be disappointed to find that the amount you get paid is significantly less than what is needed to restore your property to pre-loss condition. In fact, insurance companies have developed internal estimating guidelines that systematically undervalue claims, which results in smaller claim payouts for policy holders. Smaller claim payouts for policyholders squeeze contractors, which makes it difficult to find a contractor to repair the property.

If you decide you need additional funds, the adjuster must re-open the claim and you will have to go through the same process all over again. Waiting when your house is covered in hazardous soot is the last thing you want to be doing. On top of your home or business being un-livable and un-useable, you now have to deal with the stressful, and sometimes overwhelming claims process.

The good news is, you don’t have to go through this process alone.

Here to Help

In a time of crisis, lean on us. Our public adjustment firm specializes in helping New York policyholders successfully navigate through the often complex and difficult property claims process. We will manage your entire claim to help you achieve a maximum claim settlement in the least amount of time possible, making sure you get paid fairly for your damages, and get back to pre-loss condition quickly.

Our services include:

  • Claim submission
  • Claim advisory services
  • Communications management
  • Inspection coordination
  • Final settlement negotiation
  • Professional recommendations
  • And more!

If you have had a puff back, call us now to get a free, no obligation consultation with a licensed public adjuster! On our call, we will review your claim, discuss options, and provide our professional recommendation for moving forward.

We’re here, and we’re on your side. So remember, when you sustain property damage:

Contact Claimly First!

Contact us now