One of the biggest concerns of those who have suffered a house fire or are worried about suffering one is how the fire will impact their insurance rate.
Unfortunately, the answer is if you suffer a house fire, you can expect the impact on your rate to be significant.
According to new research, the average cost of home insurance rises by nearly 30% following a house fire. According to individual state numbers, the average rate of increase could be as high as 42% or as low as 6%, depending on the state in which you live.
The bottom line is that in every state fire damage increases the cost of homeowner’s insurance, with average increases of 40% or more in 4 states.
Across the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the annual cost of insurance coverage for a home increases by an average of 27% after a fire completely destroys it.
Florida has the lowest increase in house insurance rates following a fire, at just 6% on average. The most expensive states to endure fire damage are West Virginia and Mississippi, where house insurance rates rise by an average of 42% following a fire.
Other states with big increases include Idaho, where the rate typically increases by 41%, and Oregon, which has a high occurrence of wildfires, and which usually sees increases of 40% in rates following a house fire.
Does getting supplementary insurance help?
Whether they are residential or wildfires, home insurance policies normally cover damage brought on by fire. Even if a fire is started by an occurrence not generally covered by a homeowners insurance policy, such as an earthquake, fire damage is usually covered.
In addition to their standard home or renters insurance coverage, some homeowners or tenants may wish to — or perhaps need to — obtain a supplementary fire insurance policy.
A stand-alone fire policy can be purchased by owners of properties with a history of claims or properties that aren’t their principal residence to cover damage.
Additionally, traditional insurance companies may decline to provide coverage to homeowners whose homes were constructed in high-risk regions with frequent wildfires. Instead, to obtain insurance protection for these homeowners, they must acquire Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plans.
These policies can be a way to cover a home that otherwise wouldn’t be covered or to increase coverage on a home.
Why house fire insurance is needed in the first place
Quite simply, there are an astonishing number of house fires that take place in the US every year. These fires cause billions of dollars in property damage, thousands of fatalities, and numerous other injuries.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Fire Administration, residential fires between 2003 and 2019 resulted in an average $8.1 billion in annual damage. Residential fires damaged residences by $138 billion in total during this time.
Insurance protects you from having to pay expensive repair bills on your own. This is important because house fires occur frequently.
In fact, no year between 2003 and 2019 had less than 350,000 home fires. There were 6.4 million residential fires annually, or 375,059 on average.
What are the main causes of house fires?
Since 2003, heating equipment has been the second-leading cause of residential fires, accounting for an average of 46% of yearly fires.
Cooking-related heating sources are to blame for the majority of house fires. According to data, between 2003 and 2019, stoves, ovens, cooking fires, and other fixed heat sources caused an average of 46% of yearly fires.
What can you do to prevent a house fire?
There are things you can do to be fire prepared even though it is impossible to entirely fireproof your home. In fact, doing some of these things could even possibly result in a reduction in the cost of your homeowner’s insurance.
So what can you do?
Start in the kitchen
The kitchen is the room in the house where fires start more often than any other. In total, 49 percent of all fires between 2015 and 2019 had their origins in kitchens. Many of these fires were started by persons who neglected to watch food being cooked, had combustibles too close to a heat source, or forgot to switch off cooking appliances like stoves and ovens when they were finished.
To prevent kitchen fires, follow these simple steps:
When cooking, stay in the kitchen. If for any reason you must leave the house, turn off the stove, oven, or other device until you can come back.
Keep coming back for cuisine that takes a while to cook. This will lessen the risk of fires, for instance, if the liquid has evaporated and the food is cooking dry.
Establish timers to monitor cooking progress and serve as a reminder of when meals should be ready.
Oven mitts, paper towels, cloth towels, food packaging, and wooden utensils are examples of items to keep away from the cooking source.
Keep small children away from the source of the cooking. This could also stop kids from placing combustible objects next to the cooking source, further preventing burns.
Take extra care when handling oils and grease. It is impossible to put out these fires with water. Use a fire extinguisher with a kitchen rating, or douse the flames.
Next, move to the bedrooms
Bedrooms are the second most frequent location for house fires. These fires could be electrical in nature, brought on by defective wiring, broken or worn-out electric blankets, or the usage of space heaters while people are sleeping. They could also be caused by people smoking and falling asleep.
The following are some bedroom fire safety tips:
Avoid smoking in bed. The embers from your cigarette could ignite a fire if you fall asleep and they land on the carpet, bed sheets, or blankets.
Before retiring to bed, extinguish the candles.
Put laptops, smartphones, and other charging devices on a solid surface like a desk, dresser, or nightstand. Avoid leaving them on the carpet or bed where they could catch fire if they become too hot.
When you’re ready to go to sleep, turn off your space heater after preheating the room. By doing this, overheating that might start a fire will be avoided.
When using electric blankets, use the same procedure: heat the bed and switch the blanket off when you’re ready to sleep.
Verify the wiring is up to code throughout the house, including in the bedrooms.
Suffered a house fire?
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Photo by Joanne Francis on Unsplash