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Frequently Asked Questions

At Atlanta Fire & Restoration, we believe that our Fire and Smoke damage customers are best served when they have an understanding of the process and other options available to them. Fire and water damage disrupts the normal pattern of life and can envoke a lot of stress, making homeowners feel vulnerable. Be sure to choose Atlanta Fire & Restoration for your Fire and Water Damage needs.

Should I call my insurance company before I call a restoration contractor?

80% of all disasters occur at night or on the weekend.  In these cases, you do NOT want to wait to contact your insurance company before calling a restoration contractor.  Standard homeowner’s insurance policies obligate you to prevent additional damage to your property.  Failure to do so may violate the terms of your policy and put you at risk for additional expense.  Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service can make sure that your property is secure and prevent additional damage.  Once your insurance company is notified, we will work with your insurance adjuster and manage the claim for you so you get the most from your policy.  We can also assist with inventory and documentation of damaged contents for your claim.

What should I consider when selecting a restoration contractor?

Fire restoration is a job that demands prompt attention. This does not mean, however, that you hire the first restoration contractor that knocks on your door. You should take your time and exercise due diligence to hire the right fire restoration contractor for your job.  Unethical contractors have been known for using high-pressure sales tactics, unnecessary inflation of contract costs, doing unacceptable work, not returning phone calls, not obtaining the required permits and sometimes disappearing after taking clients money before finishing the job.

It may sound melodramatic, but it’s true – when you hire a contractor, you are not only hiring them to repair your property, you are also hiring them to repair a part of your life and a part of your dream.  Take the time to find someone you can trust. 

Can I restore my own home?

While it is possible, it is not recommended.  This is one of those instances where what you don’t know can hurt you.  Restoration is a scientific discipline that is practiced by trained professionals.  Worst case scenario: if not done correctly you might be creating hazardous health conditions for you and your family.  Most homeowner’s insurance policies will pay for you to hire a professional restoration contractor to return your property to its pre-loss condition.  Why take the risk of doing it yourself when Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service can get you back to your life? 

What is involved with fire damage restoration?

One of the first things that must be considered is the Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) system.  It must be either removed or thoroughly restored. This is particularly critical to prevent smoke particles from being released into the air.  Smoke particles range from 0.1 to 4 microns.  The respiratory system is able to filter particles down to 10 microns. Others have the potential to penetrate deeply into lung tissues where they cause irritation and could result in permanent lung damage.  If you must run your heat or air conditioning before hiring a restoration contractor, be sure to change the furnace filter and tape double layers of cheesecloth over air registers.

All charred structural components (walls, ceilings) and floor coverings must be removed.  The structural framing and subfloor materials are carefully evaluated for damage (charring, warping, etc.) and replaced as needed.  Salvageable wall framing must be treated with odor counteractants and, depending on the extent of microbial contamination, possibly a biocide.  In extensive losses, blown or bat insulation must be removed and replaced. It is a mistake to be too conservative here. 

Framing materials must be allowed to dry thoroughly.  Then they are sealed with an appropriate sealer before replacing drywall and paneling.  If done improperly, odor will leach out of structural materials for months, if not years to come as heat and moisture tend to draw out odors.  Simply putting up new drywall and taping and mudding joints will not seal in untreated odor.

While the home is unoccupied, a combination of ozone deodorization and wet or dry fogging can be employed to oxidize or otherwise neutralize odor. These processes must be applied by trained professionals to avoid health risks or damage from the process itself. As individual rooms are reconstructed, deodorization efforts continue.  These typically progress from least damaged areas back to the source of the fire. Usually source areas are the last to be dried and reconstructed.

Undamaged drywall, if any, is to be sealed - carefully – and painted with two coats of paint.  The structure is aired out during and for several days after each phase of restoration to help minimize the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that off-gas from new materials, adhesives, and coatings. All salvageable furnishings, contents, and removable fixtures should be processed meticulously in a restoration facility before being returned to the fully restored home.

I have read about thermal fogging. Can I just do that to fix my smoke odor problem?

Thermal fogging is not a magic potion for resolving all the odor problems in your structure.  It is a Band-Aid for a complex problem. Proper deodorizing procedures begin at the beginning of the recovery efforts and continue throughout the restoration process.  Adherence to these principles is why Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service is able to offer a lifetime smoke odor non-recurrence warranty. 

Can Atlanta Fire & Restoration manage my claim for me?

Many property owners find collecting on a fire insurance policy to be an uphill battle. Lack of experience with fire damage and the insurance claim process can put you at a disadvantage when dealing with the insurance company.

Your insurer should explain all the coverages that are available to you so that you have enough information to understand the claims process. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen - and when the policy has burned in the fire, property owners may find themselves without any information at all. Our extensive experience with the insurance claims process helps you to get the most out of your policy, keeps your restoration moving forward at a brisk pace, and gives you peace of mind – so you can get back to your life. 

Do I have to pay to have Atlanta Fire & Restoration manage my claim for me?

No, this is a free service that we provide to our customers. We understand that claims process and the damage to your home. Managing your claim allows us to get the most from your policy for you.

I can’t live in my home because of a fire. What will my policy cover?

Check your policy may for “additional living expense” coverage (also called “loss-of-use”).  It is one of the most important features in a homeowner’s insurance policy. This coverage picks up the tab for your hotel costs, restaurant bills, and other additional living expenses when your home is too damaged to live in during repairs. Don’t plan on checking into the Ritz and dining at The Four Seasons; chances are that your policy will only pay the difference between your normal living expenses and any additional costs. (Be sure to keep all your receipts!)  The limit of coverage varies by company. It may be based on a percentage of total coverage or limited by a specified length of time. 

Can I upgrade my property during the restoration?

Of course. Depending on your policy, your insurance will reimburse you for actual cash value or replaced cost value of your damaged property. We will work with you to establish a customized restoration plan. If you want to upgrade appliances or floor coverings or fixtures, you can most definitely do so. You may only need to pay the cost difference. In some cases, however, we are able to install the upgrades without additional cost to the property owner. Just call us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

My house was completely destroyed by fire. The insurance company is telling me I need an inventory of my contents before they will pay. Can they do that?

Whether your policy pays for the replacement cost or the actual cash value, the insurance company is only obligated to pay for personal property that you can show you owned at the time of loss. It is a very good idea to keep an up to date inventory in a secure place along with pictures or video of each room. Regardless of your pre-loss documentation, our restoration professionals can assist you in completing your household inventory – including items that might be easy to forget.

What is the difference between ACV and RCV?

ACV means ‘actual cash value’. It is a type of coverage that reimburses you for the cost of the property at the time of the claim. It’s important to account for depreciation when considering this coverage option. For example, that you purchased a refrigerator five years ago for $1000. Today, it might be worth $150. If a fire destroys that refrigerator and you have ACV coverage, you will be reimbursed for the current value of the system or $150.

RCV means ‘replacement cost value’. This type of coverage reimburses you for the cost of replacing your refrigerator today. Using the same example of the refrigerator purchased five years ago for $1000 is worth $150 today, but the cost of purchasing a similar refrigerator might be $1200. RCV coverage would pay for you to buy the new, similar refrigerator.

If you have RCV coverage, your insurance company will likely provide you with the actual cost value up front. Once all the work is complete and the destroyed property is replaced, the insurance company will release the remaining replacement cost value dollars. This is one way that they ensure you are actually replacing your fire damaged property.

How do I price my claim?

The value of a claim is based on many factors and requires special expertise to determine what is fair and reasonable. An experienced fire restoration contractor can perform a thorough analysis of your property and provide you with a comprehensive restoration estimate. Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service offers no-cost, no obligation consultations and free estimates.

Does my policy pay me the “limit”?

The value of a claim is based on many factors and requires special expertise to determine what is fair and reasonable. An experienced fire restoration contractor can perform a thorough analysis of your property and provide you with a comprehensive restoration estimate. Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service offers no-cost, no obligation consultations and free estimates.

What if the damage is more than my policy?

This is an all too often occurrence.  A recent survey by revealed that 2 out of every 3 homes nationwide are underinsured.  The survey also revealed that the typical homeowner was underinsured by 27%.  Unfortunately, too many homeowners don’t find this out until disaster strikes. Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service does offer a variety of alternatives to help you out if you are underinsured.  Call us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation today. 

What if the insurance company’s estimate doesn’t cover my damage?

Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service is your advocate, working for you during the insurance claim process. Our estimators will negotiate with your insurance claims adjuster to ensure your damage is thoroughly evaluated and accurately estimated. Because we understand the process and the complexities of fire damage restoration, we are able to get the most out of your policy. Rest assured that you will never have to come ‘out of pocket’ for more than your deductible.

Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service can usually help you navigate the complexities of the restoration process without incurring the additional costs of hiring a public adjuster. We believe that the best defense to prevent being taken advantage of is being educated and informed. 

What if you find additional damage during the restoration process?

It is not a problem. We simply contact your insurance adjuster and provide additional evidence regarding the damage. Until the claim is settled, there is always the opportunity to adjust the estimate. Atlanta Fire & Restoration Service manages this for you so you get the most out of your policy.

Will my insurance company raise my premiums if I file an insurance claim?

Typically insurance companies do not raise a property owner’s premiums because they file a claim. Several claims made within a few years, however, may result in an increased premium. Some insurance companies offer a “claims free discount” to discourage homeowners from opening claims. These discounts are small, however, compared to the value of restoring your home.

Additionally, if your damage is due to a storm in the area, insurance companies may raise the rates of everyone in that area. If this happens and you do not open a claim, then you are paying for everyone else’s damage except yours.

Answers To Some Common Questions