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There are numerous household hazards that can result in damages to your home, including the risk of fires. If a fire breaks out in your home, the damages it causes can result in massive financial losses, in addition to the physical risks the fire poses to you and your loved ones. And what’s perhaps more troubling is that home fires aren’t uncommon. There were about 1.2 million fires in the U.S. in 2019, the most recent year that data is available. These fires caused a total of $14.8 billion in losses, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
As a homeowner, you should take steps to try and mitigate the risk of a home fire, as a fire could damage your home or envelop your property completely. In addition to taking steps to try and mitigate the chances of a house fire, it’s also important to know whether your homeowners insurance policy will cover damages caused by a fire. The good news is that most home insurance policies do cover fire damage to your structure and belongings. However, there are a few situations in which your insurance provider may not cover losses. Here’s what you should know.
- Home insurance policies typically cover losses from a fire.
- Your home insurance policy will not typically cover any fires that were started intentionally in your home.
- There are certain preventative measures you can take to help mitigate damage if a fire does start in your home. These measures include installing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
Does home insurance cover fire?
You may be wondering: does insurance cover fire damage? And in what specific instances might home insurance cover fire? Homeowners insurance typically covers fire and smoke damage. House fires may start from cooking, burning candles, dry Christmas trees, heating equipment, electrical malfunctions, appliances, lightning strikes or a fireplace fire burning out of control.
What does a home policy typically cover in a fire?
Home insurance policies will typically cover damages caused by fire – whether it was caused by electrical wires, cooking, candles, your fireplace, heaters or another household item. You may be wondering: Does homeowners insurance cover accidental fire? Typically, even if the fire was started accidentally or by user error, such as leaving the stove unattended, your home insurance policy will likely cover the damage.
Fire damage that a home policy may cover
Your house may or may not be protected against wildfires. Many home insurance policies will cover damages caused by wildfires. However, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, your home insurance company may charge more for your premiums or decline insurance coverage altogether if you live in a wildfire-prone area or state. Some states, like California, also have FAIR plans that you can purchase for coverage if you cannot obtain coverage elsewhere. The best way to find out if you’re covered against wildfire damage may be to contact your insurance agent and ask about the specifics of your policy.
Fire damage that a home policy won’t cover
Does homeowners insurance cover fire? Yes. However, home insurance policies do not cover arson, or any fires purposely started to damage your home. If someone were to burn their house down with the hope of collecting an insurance payout, that person may be charged with insurance fraud.
Do homeowners need a separate fire policy?
No, homeowners typically do not need a separate fire policy. Nearly all standard homeowners insurance policies already include coverage types that typically pay out to cover fires, so you wouldn’t have to purchase a separate policy for fire coverage. The coverage types that would pay out to cover damages caused by a fire include:
- Dwelling coverage: Dwelling coverage would likely pay out to rebuild your home if a fire were to destroy parts or all of the structure.
- Personal property coverage: This coverage typically pays out to repair or replace damaged items, such as electronics and furniture.
- Liability coverage: This coverage could pay out if the fire were to damage part of your neighbor’s property.
- Loss of use coverage: If the fire renders you unable to live in your home, this coverage may be used to help you temporarily relocate. It may pay for the cost of staying in a hotel, food, laundry and other necessary additional living expenses.
- Other structures coverage: Any other structures on your property would typically be covered under this coverage type.
How much a home policy covers for fire
The average claim amount for fire and lightning damage is $78,838, according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I). How much your insurance covers depends on your coverage limits. Your policy will outline your coverage limits, and it may be helpful to talk about these limits with an insurance agent.
If your house burns down and you have $250,000 in dwelling coverage, your insurance would pay for up to $250,000 worth of rebuilding costs, minus any deductible you are responsible for. If you’re underinsured and the rebuild will cost $350,000, you would then have to pay $100,000 out-of-pocket for the difference, unless you have a coverage option such as extended or guaranteed replacement cost coverage that increases your dwelling coverage limit.
Frequently asked questions
You may be wondering how to protect your home from a wildfire. To protect your home from wildfires, you may want to create a fire-resistant “defensible space,” which is an area around your home which may include landscaping, gutters, roofing and windows. Using non-flammable construction materials and tempered glass windows can help your home be more fire-resistant. You may want to clear your yard of debris, leaves and undergrowth and lay mulch to reduce the risk of wildfire enveloping your property.
There are numerous steps you can take to try and prevent a house fire. For starters, you can install smoke alarms and sprinklers, which will both alert you to the fire and work to help contain or fight it. Other steps that may benefit you include staying vigilant when using items with open flames, like candles or space heaters, or when using your fireplace or cooking. If a fire does break out in your house, it’s typically best to call professional firefighters to contain it, no matter how small it may initially be. Fires can get out of control quickly and there may not be time to spare, so alerting firefighters to the issue can mean the difference between a small fire and one that grows out of control.
Yes, your personal belongings coverage may cover your furniture or other personal items that are damaged by smoke after a fire occurs in your home. However, you may want to check with your insurance agent or read your policy to ensure that these kinds of damages are covered.
One question homeowners may have is: does insurance cover cigarette fires? Typically, a cigarette fire would be covered, as long as it was accidental. Fires caused by arson, on the other hand, are typically listed as an exclusion on your policy.