In the US, fire departments respond to a call every 24 seconds – many of these calls are for house fires.
Hopefully, your home will never be the reason for one of these house fire calls but if it is, or if you are just worried about what might happen if your home did catch fire, here is what you need to know about fire insurance.
Homeowners Insurance and House Fires – What is Covered?
For instance, you may be wondering if homeowners insurance covers smoke and fire damage?
Yes, it does. A basic homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for both smoke and fire damage. Smoke damage to your home caused by a neighbor’s fire is also covered, so the smoke doesn’t necessarily have to come from a fire inside your home. You are also protected by your homeowners insurance from damage brought on by wildfires.
Basic HO3 homeowners insurance, which is sometimes known as dwelling coverage, also guards against physical house damage. In addition, it also covers “other structures” on your property, such as your driveway, fences, sheds, and other structures that are permanently affixed to your land.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Personal Belongings?
The things you possess are referred to as personal property. Whether your belongings are at home or elsewhere, your household insurance has your back. As a result, you’ll be protected if your shed burns down when there are several power tools inside.
Please be aware that certain precious items, like as jewelry and works of art, may be subject to sub-limits so when purchasing your policy be sure to add additional coverage for these items if needed.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Living Costs?
If your home is rendered uninhabitable by fire or smoke, you may be covered under a provision known as “loss of use,” in which case your insurance provider may contribute to the cost of a temporary residence as well as essential living expenses like food, laundry, parking, etc.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Personal Liability?
Yes, basic homeowners insurance also covers this. Personal liability, by the way, refers to the idea that your insurance provider should cover you if, for whatever reason, someone is hurt on your property and it is your fault, or if you or anyone else listed on your policy damages the things or property of another.
For example, in the event that a visitor sustains a wrist injury while fleeing a fire in your home, she will owe medical bills. Your medical expense insurance might come into play to cover those expenses.
When Would Fire Damage Not be Covered by Homeowners Insurance?
The main reason for insurance not covering a house fire is if you or anybody else listed on your insurance policy purposefully started the fire.
You should also be aware of the distinction between identified and open risks. The structure of your home and any attached structures are covered for all types of damage under a HO3 policy’s “open perils” coverage (dwelling coverage), with the exception of the exclusions specifically mentioned in the policy.
These named perils in your policy can include such things as explosions, vandalism, lightning, riots, and more.
How to File an Insurance Claim
Here are some tips for navigating the claims process:
It is often helpful to have pictures or videos of the damage if you need to file an insurance claim for fire damage. Insurance companies often use photos and videos to decide whether to send an investigator or restoration vendor for claims.
Please note: you should not entire a fire site to take videos and photos until the fire department has issued an “all clear” announcement.
Here is one more important tip: after a fire forces you to leave your house, be sure to save your receipts for any out-of-pocket emergency charges.
Is it Safe to Occupy a Smoke-Damaged Home?
After a fire, the first thing you should do is call emergency services. After that, call your insurance provider as soon as the fire has been put out and you are able to enter your home.
While the amount of the damage is assessed, they will evaluate what transpired and determine whether you require interim housing.
Remember that loss of use provision from your homeowners insurance that we mentioned earlier?
This is where that provision could kick in and cover additional expenses you incur while your house is unusable.
At this time, you’ll also need to find a dependable cleanup business that specializes in fire damage.
Look for local businesses on review websites like Google, Yelp, Angie’s List, or the Better Business Bureau website that have high customer satisfaction ratings.
These firms are experts at going in after a fire and cleaning and restoring textiles, clothing, electronics, furniture, and other goods so that the home is once again safe to live in.
However, please keep in mind that it is not necessarily safe to return home just because the fire is out and you are permitted to do so.
Smoke and soot can adhere to the walls, furniture, and floors, which is not only unpleasant to smell but could also harm your eyes and lungs and more.
Your overall health might also be impacted by smoke and soot, and fires can produce toxic substances.
For example, fibers breathed in from the fire can attach themselves in the lungs and can cause mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer with persistent and frequently fatal symptoms.
What Can I Do to Repair Fire Damage?
Don’t handle the major damage by yourself. Make contact with a reputable restoration business for assistance.
They’ll evaluate the structural integrity of your house and the extent of the fire damage.
If the fire resulted in a burst pipe, they might also hire a company to clean up water damage.
You may be able to clean up light water damage yourself by using the Red Cross’s instructions once the restoration business has given the go-ahead, but make sure to confirm with them that it’s okay to handle simple damage on your own.
How Much Does Fixing or Repairing Fire Damage Cost?
The cost of fixing fire damage is based on how much damage there is and for typical home fires can range from $3,000 to approximately $30,000 with the average cost being around $14,000.
The state in which you live and the severity of the fire damage will have a significant impact on the average cost of your clean up.
Want to Sell Your Fire-Damaged House?
We Buy Fire Damaged Houses pays all cash and buys homes in as-is condition so you do not have to go through a stressful repair process.
Fill out the form below to see if your burned home qualifies for a free quote.