Depending on the type of insurance claim you have you may not have any personal property that was affected by the loss. Fire and water claims are losses that typically have damaged personal property. The extent of the damages determines if items can be cleaned/repaired or non-salvaged, meaning you are paid to replace that item.
For example, a fire occurs in the kitchen and is contained in that room, but smoke traveled throughout the home. Usually, items in the kitchen would be considered non-salvage. Items in bedrooms would be considered cleanable, except for consumable items such as hygiene, beauty, cleaning, and office supplies. Typically contents like clothing, bedding, furniture, and décor can usually be cleaned.
Consumable items cannot be cleaned because they are now contaminated and have gone through a chemical reaction by either the heat or smoke. Restoration companies, the ones who are most likely to clean and restore the personal property, do not include consumables with their scope of work. It can also be cheaper to replace consumables than it would be to clean.
In our line of adjusting, we often experience insurance companies who suggest cleaning for items rather than replacement because it is cheaper to clean larger items than to replace them. We have also experienced an adjuster providing a list of items that they believed could be cleaned or repaired when we knew they could not. This is because the items were either consumable or were damaged beyond repair.
The list consisted of canvas prints, wrapping paper, tire inner tube, and tools that were in a burnt tool chest to name a few. Because the fire occurred in this room all the items should be considered non-salvage. Canvas prints are pores that allow smoke to penetrate through the material. Wrapping paper is paper and paper cannot be cleaned. The tire inner tube is now compromised and will not have the same function as before. As the tools were in a tool chest that was burnt, they also cannot be cleaned or repaired.
It is eye-opening and head-turning to know insurance companies can dig their heels in especially in situations like this. If it weren’t for the homeowner hiring us the insurance company would have never received a non-salvage list at length or with great detail our team was able to prepare. It is sad to think that without our help the homeowner might have received payment for cleaning all of their belongings instead of payment to replace their belongings.