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Who Pays for Crime Scene Cleanup?

Updated: 5 days ago



Who Pays for Crime Scene Cleanup?

Most of the time, the payment obligation falls on the property owner's shoulders, in cases where a homicide, accident, or suicide occurs at residential or business properties. An insurance provider might cover a portion of the costs if you have crime cleanup coverage, while health departments will foot the bill where public health is compromised.

Biohazard cleanup is complex and is not a "quick fix". Professional crime scene cleaners are needed for this job - and the costs involved should not be taken lightly. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about who pays for a crime scene cleanup. 


Who Is Responsible for the Cost of Crime Scene Cleanup?

Determining who bears the costs of professional cleaning services depends on several factors, such as:

Property ownership

Typically, the property owner is liable for crime scene cleanup services.

For instance, if a restaurant becomes the scene of a crime, the restaurant owner is liable to pay biohazard cleanup fees. Similarly, if a homicide or suicide occurs at a residential property, property owners, landlords, or the next of kin must pay the bill.

Insurance companies

Most, but not all, home and business insurance policies will cover a portion of crime scene cleanup costs, whereby you are responsible for paying the balance.

There might be limitations and specific criteria in the small print that you'll have to review.

You must contact your insurance company as soon as this type of traumatic event occurs to ensure you receive the professional help and assistance you need in terms of payments.

Top tip: Discuss these details with your insurance broker, not your insurance agent. Agents are the ones selling you the policy, while brokers are the ones in charge of your claims/account.

A few things to consider include:

Coverage type

Different homeowner's insurance policies might offer varying levels of coverage for crime scene cleanup services. Offerings from smaller insurance companies may also differ from larger organizations. As mentioned, it's best to review what your policy does and does not cover.

Specifics of the crime

There's a difference between biohazard and crime scene cleanup coverage that involves the specific type of crime committed.

For example:

  • Biohazard cleanup coverage refers to the decontamination of biohazardous materials (e.g. blood, bodily fluids, animal waste, chemicals, drugs/medication, etc.) involving violent crimes, drug labs, suicide, hoarding, or accidental deaths. It usually doesn't include the repair of damaged property.

  • Commercial crime scene cleanup coverage often helps protect you against liabilities relating to the improper cleaning of crime scenes that could cause the spread of infection.

  • Additionally, should you incur property damage, this will generally be covered separately within your 'standard' household/business breakage cover.

Deductibles

Deductibles in terms of insurance coverage for crime scene cleanup services refer to the amount that the policyholder (e.g. homeowner) is required to pay out of pocket before insurance coverage kicks in. In these instances, you might have to pay for these services and claim back from your insurance company.

In terms of professional cleaners' payouts (and depending on your level of coverage), some insurance companies might pay the company upfront.

Limits

If there's a limit on your biohazard remediation cover, property owners are liable to pay the difference.

For example, if professional crime scene cleaners charge $3,000 for their services and your insurance policy covers a maximum payout of $2,000, you (the property owner) are liable for the $1,000 difference.

Again, it's important to be aware of these limits to avoid unexpected expenses.

It's best to verify this information on your insurance policy or speak to your insurance agent to confirm the details. If insurance does not cover the cleanup, other options include seeking support from the Crime Victims Fund or opting for payment plans from the crime scene cleaning company you use.

Auto insurance

Should a violent crime occur in your vehicle, your auto insurance provider normally handles biohazard remediation costs.

In terms of home, business, and auto insurance coverage, look for crime scene cleaning companies that assist with the claims process. This ensures all legalities are done, saving you time, money, and energy!

Public health department

In cases where an unattended death occurs in a public area, such as national parks and beaches, the cost is usually covered by public health departments. This is to ensure biohazardous waste is removed quickly and disposed of safely; ensuring public health is not compromised. 

Another example involves a situation where the body of a homeless person is discovered on the streets. In such cases, the police investigate the scene, and the body is then transferred to the coroner's office. The purpose of this is to identify the deceased, conduct an autopsy if necessary, and locate any family members. 

If next of kin are identified, they are typically responsible for covering the costs of crime scene cleanup. However, if no family members can be found, the responsibility for the biohazard cleanup expenses falls to the state.


How Much Does Crime Scene Cleanup Cost?

The average price for hiring emergency hazmat crime scene cleaners ranges between $3,000 and $5,000. Some companies may charge an hourly rate of around $50 to $500. However, the final price tag depends on the company's expertise, the number of cleanup technicians needed, and the complexity of the job.

Several other factors also affect the end cost, such as:

Size of the crime scene

The number of rooms affected will ultimately determine the crime scene cleaning fee. Larger crime scenes take longer to decontaminate and cost more as opposed to single-room cleanups.

Biohazardous materials present

The type and amount of infectious materials and waste in the crime area will influence the cleaning procedures and costs. This will also influence the number of professional cleaners needed to clean the area(s) safely and efficiently.

Location

The geographical location of the crime scene affects the cost of cleanup services. For example, the site of a crime committed outdoors, exposed to harsh weather conditions, is more complex to clean when compared to a homicide indoors.

Company experience

As mentioned, crime scene cleaning services largely depend on the expertise and skills of the team involved. Seasoned trauma cleaning technicians understand procedures and have the compassion and sensitivity to get the job done in a shorter time frame.

How long do crime scenes take to clean?

The short answer: It depends.

On average, the process can range from one to 40 hours, with some cases taking several days to complete. Factors influencing the duration of the cleanup include the violence of the crime, the level of disinfection needed, and the conditions of the location.


What To Do If You Need Crime Scene Cleanup

If you're faced with the tragic task of needing to arrange crime scene cleaning services, these are the essential steps to take:

  1. Do not interfere: Do not enter the scene of a crime to avoid disrupting forensic evidence.

  2. Contact the authorities: Contact the police and wait outside until they arrive and allow law enforcement to investigate the scene.

  3. Seek legal and insurance advice: Contact a legal professional and your insurance company to understand your rights and potential coverage. They can guide you through the specific processes and requirements.

  4. Contact a crime scene cleaning company: Look for certified and experienced professionals who prioritize safety, discretion, and proper disposal when it comes to biohazard cleanup services. Chore-ology is the industry leader in biohazard decontamination in the greater Seattle region. Our qualified teams have the expertise, understanding, and sensitivity to handle traumatic crime scene events.

Remember, this article provides general information and shouldn't be substituted for legal or insurance advice. Always consult with qualified professionals to navigate the specific details of your crime scene situation and the costs involved.

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