Guide to House Fires & Home Insurance
If you’ve ever knocked over a candle or left food in the oven a little too long, you know how scary the threat of a house fire can be—and how easily it can start. And while fire insurance coverage is included in most homeowner policies, it often comes with exclusions that may not give you the protection that your home and family need.
Thankfully, we’ve got you covered with all the critical information you need to know. Keep reading as we explain what your homeowners policy includes and what your options are for protecting your biggest investment—your home. Let’s get started!
What Is Fire Insurance?
Fire insurance is a type of property coverage that pays for damages and other losses that you may suffer in the event of a fire. It covers the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property in your home. Any detached structures on your land, such as sheds, fences, or detached garages, are often covered as well. Some policies will also help pay for landscaping costs, such as damage to trees and shrubs.
Fire insurance also takes care of the costs of living if you have to move out while your home is temporarily unsafe to live in. This includes your personal belongings, as well as expenses for lodging and meals above and beyond your normal living expenses, up to your policy limits.
Does My Homeowners Insurance Policy Cover Fire Damage?
The good news is that most homeowners insurance policies already cover fire damage to your home, other structures on your property, and your personal belongings. However, if you live in what’s deemed a “high-risk area”—close to canyons, far from fire stations or where wildfires are common—you might need to purchase a separate fire insurance policy.
You may also choose to purchase separate fire insurance for extended coverage of your home and belongings. For example, if your home is old or highly customized, or if you have expensive belongings, additional fire coverage will help pay the cost of damages above the limit set by your homeowners policy.
What Will My Homeowners Policy Cover in the Event of a Fire?
A homeowners policy covers more than just the home you live in. Here are the parts of your policy and what they’ll cover in the event of a fire:
- Dwelling coverage: This type of coverage pays to rebuild or repair your home if it’s destroyed by fire or smoke, up to your policy’s limits.
- Other structures coverage: Do you have other structures on your property such as a detached shed, garage, or fence? This part of your policy covers any that could be harmed by fire.
- Personal property coverage: If any of your clothing, technology, furniture or other belongings are damaged in a fire, your personal property coverage will reimburse you.
- Additional living expense coverage: This coverage takes care of the costs you may face if you can’t live in your home for a little while (for example, staying at a hotel or eating out).
What Does Fire Insurance Not Cover?
Your homeowners policy will pay for damage to your home up to the policy limits for fire damage. However, it will only cover fires that are accidental in nature, whether caused by human error, electrical fire, or natural disaster. Fire coverage also won’t pay if your car is destroyed or damaged due to a fire at your home. In this case, your auto policy will take care of any damage to your vehicle.
How to Make an Insurance Claim After a Home Fire
After a fire happens, you must file a claim with your insurer in order to get all damages covered.
Make sure to take pictures of all the damage your home sustained and document any belongings you may have lost.
The company will send a claims adjuster to your house to assess the damage and determine the cause of the fire and where it started. Walk the claims adjuster through your property to make sure they see everything. Once you receive an estimate from your insurance company, compare it to your policy terms to make sure it matches what you’ve already paid.
How Much Will a Claim for Fire Damage Cover?
The majority of homeowners insurance policies cover fire damage regardless of whether the fire originates from inside or outside of the home, although the limit of coverage depends on the cause of the fire. The policy will reimburse you on either a replacement-cost basis or an actual cash value (ACV) basis for the damages.
ACV coverage may not be extensive enough to replace items you lost at today’s market value. However, some policies may allow you to add a clause to cover the replacement cost. In exchange for a higher premium, you’ll be able to have your items replaced with new ones of the same quality. ACV versus replacement cost is also an important consideration if you need to rebuild your home, as the cost to rebuild may be much greater than the home’s actual cash value.
If your home was damaged to the point that it’s considered a total loss, your insurer may reimburse the home’s current market value. The total payout will generally be capped based on your home’s overall value. For example, if your policy insures your home for $350,000, the contents will typically cover at least 50% to 70% of the policy value—or a range of $175,000 to $245,000.
Remember, your home insurance coverage will pay for the cost of the damages up to the limits, minus the deductible that you pay out of pocket. If the damages exceed the limits of your policy and you do not have a separate fire insurance policy, you will also be responsible for covering the excess.
Want to Protect Your Home and Save On Fire Insurance?
When it comes to home safety, nothing protects you like a fire insurance policy you can count on—and we’re here to help get you covered. Another way to protect your home and family is to have fire prevention measures in place and also to have a house fire safety plan for your family. Best of all, choosing a policy doesn’t have to be expensive or stressful. We make shopping for insurance a piece of cake, with fast and affordable online home insurance quotes to help you plan and save. Get your quote today, and rest easy knowing that if disaster strikes, your home is protected.