Will cleaning personal property (clothes, dishes, furniture) really get rid of smoke odor. Will it remove toxic substances on personal property? Should I just replace the property?
It really depends on what is being cleaned and the method of cleaning. For some items you will not know if they can be successfully cleaned until after an attempt has been made. If you feel strongly that cleaning an item will be a waste of time and your limited insurance coverage, insist on a fair replacement value settlement for that item. If you are not satisfied with the condition of items after they’ve been cleaned, you can claim the replacement value in addition to the cleaning cost.
We have some guidance in our publications Insurance Claim Tips For Partial Loss Fires (relevant regarding cleaning even if you had a total loss) and Smoke and ash damage from a wildfire. We also discuss this in detail in a webinar we presented earlier this year for people who experienced partial losses. Again, even if you had a total loss, the cleaning information is applicable.
Please watch Partial Losses – Remediation and Insurance Claim Best Practices for more information.