Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fire?

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Written by
Cara Carlone
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Fire is considered one of the basic covered perils of homeowners insurance. In the majority of situations, your home insurance will provide coverage for fire. However, there are a few exceptions to this general rule.

To learn more about home insurance coverage for fire, keep reading. With more than twenty years of assisting consumers gain a better understanding of their insurance products, I can help you acquire valuable knowledge about your coverage.

Key Takeaways

  • Damage from fire is typically covered by a home insurance policy, including any damage caused by wildfires. These fires generally fall under the personal property, dwelling, loss of use, and detached structure coverages.

  • Your homeowners policy normally won’t cover fires that were started deliberately in your home.

  • Preventable fires in your home or on your property might not be covered.

  • If you live in an area that is prone to wildfires, you may have a problem finding home insurance that will cover this type of fire specifically..

Does Home Insurance Include Coverage For Fire?

Yes, all home insurance has coverage for fire as it’s one of the standard named perils that is included in virtually all policies of its type.

Besides covering fire, homeowners insurance will also provide coverage for smoke damage. Smoke can do a great deal of damage or outright ruin your home and/or personal belongings. This is true even if the damaged areas or objects weren’t actually set aflame by fire.

It can blacken and blister walls, break glass including windows, ruin furniture, and compromise your electronic devices, besides ruining your clothing. So it’s nice to know that your home insurance will have coverage for this type of damage as well as fire.

What Types of Fires Are Covered By Homeowners Insurance?

Home insurance policies will usually provide coverage for the common types of fires, which include:

  • Fireplaces
  • Wood burning stoves
  • Candles
  • Cooking
  • Electrical wires
  • Heaters
  • Other household items such as coffee makers

These types of fire are considered accidental and are covered in your policy.

No insurance company will pay claims for fires started intentionally by the homeowner. However, fires started by mistake or user error will probably be covered.

Note: Some homeowner insurance policies have a separate deductible for hurricanes or wind storms. The deductible might be a percentage of your dwelling amount, so check your deductible before you file a claim. You don’t want to file a claim if your deductible is going to be more than the amount of the damage.

What Losses From Fire Are Covered by Home Insurance?

Here are the four major losses from fire that your home insurance policy will cover:

  1. Dwelling: If your home is damaged by fire and/or smoke, your insurer will cover repairs or to rebuild, up to your limit for dwelling coverage.
  2. Personal Liability: If a person outside your household is injured from a fire in your home, your liability coverage will protect you. This coverage might cover damage to someone else’s property due to the fire, as well.
  3. Loss of Use: If your home  is or becomes uninhabitable following a fire, Loss of Use coverage will pay for the extra costs while you have to live somewhere else during repairs or rebuilding. Costs may include lodging along with restaurant meals, laundromats, pet boarding and other expenses while you’re unable to stay in your home..
  4. Personal Property: Home insurance will compensate you for your damaged personal property caused by a fire. This includes such items as furniture, appliances, and clothing. The amount of compensation is dependent on whether you chose actual cash value or replacement cost coverage when you purchased your policy.

When Is Fire Not Covered By Home Insurance?

While your homeowners insurance will provide coverage for fire in the majority of situations, there are times when it won’t.

Here are some scenarios when your home insurance may not provide coverage for fire:

  • Arson: If the fire was started by you or someone else with your knowledge; insurance will not pay a claim.
  • If a home has been vacant for a specific period of time as stated in the policy, (usually 30 days or more) homeowners insurance may not pay a claim.
  • In some cases, preventable fires that your insurance company deem due to negligence might not be covered.
  • If your home is old with outdated electrical wiring that your homeowners insurance views as a fire risk, they may not pay a claim for fire.
  • If you live in an area prone to wildfires that is considered high-risk by your insurer, you might not be covered for fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, recent reports say that wildfires caused over $15.9 billion in damages to United States properties in 2021.

Are There Ways You Can Avoid A Fire?

The National Fire Protection Association says that there are approximately 350,800 home structure fires every year, with 5 main causes:

  1. Heating equipment
  2. Materials related to smoking
  3. Cooking
  4. Fires set intentionally
  5. Electrical system/lighting equipment

There are routine maintenance and steps you can take to help avoid a fire:

  • Install fire and smoke alarms, and check them regularly to make sure they’re working properly
  • Keep flammable objects at least 3 feet away from a source of heat, such as a space heater
  • Don’t smoke inside your home. If you smoke outside, douse the cigarette in water when you are through.
  • Don’t leave a candle unattended while burning.
  • Check or have your electrical wiring inspected by a professional as part of routine, regular maintenance.
  • Be cautious to avoid kitchen fires. For example, don’t leave the kitchen while you’re frying or broiling food.

When Should You File A Home Insurance Claim For Fire?

This is a question with no set answer. It all depends on two key factors:

  1. How much of a deductible you have
  2. Whether or not you’re willing to see your premium increase

Let’s say that you have a small grease fire confined to the kitchen. The deductible with your home insurance is $1,000 and the estimate for repairs is $750.

In this case, you wouldn’t be gaining anything by filing a claim because you would have to pay the $1,000 deductible before your insurance would pay the claim for $750. So, it’s easy to see that you’d be out $250 more than it cost to repair the damage.

In addition, you can probably count on your insurance premium increasing after a claim. This increase will ordinarily last for a few years or permanently. According to statistics, the average home insurance policy in the U.S. is around $1300 annually with no claims.

After a claim for fire damage, that premium goes up an average of 21% per year, which is a hefty increase.

Before filing a claim for fire damage, do the math and decide whether it would be worth your while financially to do so, after everything is taken into consideration.

Now, if your home has been partially or completely destroyed by a covered fire, you would almost certainly need to file a claim.

How To File An Insurance Claim For Fire

If you must file a claim for fire damage, it isn’t any more difficult than most other claim processes.

Note: Some insurers have separate deductibles for wind or hurricane losses. These  deductibles may be a percentage of your home’s dwelling limit and not a flat amount. Always look at the correct deductible before deciding whether the damage is more than that amount.

Here is what you should do if you’re going to file a claim for fire:

First, once the fire is over, contact your home insurer to notify them of the incident. Take clear photos and/or videos of the damage along with detailed notes of everything pertaining to the fire. Make a comprehensive list of all personal property and belongings destroyed or damaged by the fire. You will need to provide these to your insurance provider.

Your insurer will send an adjuster to appraise and assess the damage. You should be present for this assessment if at all possible, to answer any questions the adjuster may have.

Once approved, it will be time to get estimates for repair or rebuilding, and then hire one or more sort of contractors to begin the work. In the event that your home was completely destroyed by the fire, you will probably need building contractors, plumbing, electrical, roofing, heating and air, and possibly others.

When you have your contractors approved by your insurance provider, the work can begin. Be sure to keep all estimates and receipts. Make copies for your own records and give the originals to your insurance company.

You will have to pay your deductible before your insurer will pay a claim.

Are There Other Types Of Coverage Available For Fire?

Yes, there are several other types of coverage that can be purchased for fire damage to your home or property.

Here are 4 ways to get extra coverage over and above what your home insurance will pay for fire:

  • Standalone Insurance: This provides additional coverage for damage from fire that applies to your home, other structures on your property, and your belongings.
  • Wildfire Insurance: If your home is situated in an area likely to have wildfires, this will afford extra protection in addition to what your home insurance will pay.
  • Condo Insurance: If you own a condo away from your home, such as at a beach, this insurance will provide benefits much like your home insurance policy. This policy is generally known as HO-6.
  • Business Interruption Insurance: If you are like many homeowners these days and work or run a business from your home, this insurance will pay for interruptions to your business and loss of income.

In addition, you may want to look into purchasing a rider that will pay extra benefits in the event of fire. A fire insurance rider will enhance your existing homeowner’s insurance benefits. If you have valuable collections such as art or jewelry, chances are it’s full worth will not be covered in a standard home insurance policy. Adding a rider will make sure you receive adequate reimbursement for these items.

If you live where wildfires are a recurring problem, it’s possible that your standard home insurance policy will pay only limited coverage for these fires, or none.

In that situation, you can look into something called the FAIR Plan. The Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan is a state mandated program that will help provide coverage to high risk properties when standard insurance is not available.

You should know that FAIR plans–while considerably better than nothing–are not as comprehensive as regular home insurance coverage. These plans only cover a few named perils instead of the lengthy list offered by the majority of home insurers. California’s FAIR plan, for instance, only covers internal explosion, lightning, and fire. You wouldn’t want to consider one of these plans as a replacement for your home insurance, just as extra protection for fire.

The FAIR plan is government mandated, but not guaranteed issue. You won’t automatically qualify for it, and in some circumstances, may be asked to make certain adjustments or repairs to your home before issuance of protection. It isn’t cheap, either, generally costing about the same as a home insurance policy. But if you can’t get a private insurer to cover your home for wildfires, purchasing this government plan might be a smart move.



Can you buy separate insurance coverage for fire?

Yes. You can add a rider to your home insurance that will cover fire damage, or purchase several different types of standalone policies that will pay additional benefits for fire related losses.

Does a standard home insurance policy cover fire?

Fire insurance is considered a basic for home insurance as it is a covered peril. The possible exception to this is if you live in an area that is subject to wildfires and your policy excludes coverage related to wildfires.

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