Is Smoke and Fire Damage Covered By Your Insurance Policy?

Smoke and Fire Damage to Windows of a Home

Smoke and Fire damage is the most common type of insurance claim and is the most expensive. According to the Insurance Information Institute, about half of homes have a fire every year.

The development of building fire-resistance and fire-suppression techniques has increased the safety of buildings against fires. However, it has not been able to prevent the increase in losses from external fires with other origins, particularly those occurring at night.

Home Fires in the U.S. 

In 2020, a fire department responded to a fire on average every 23 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). A home fire happened every 89 seconds, a home fire death occurred every three hours and 24 minutes, and a home fire injury occurred every 46 minutes.

Recent data shows that fire losses experienced by homeowners and Commercial Multiple Perils (CMP) fell 32.7 percent in 2019 compared with 2018. In 2017, losses rose 53.5 percent, and in 2018, they increased 28.7 percent due to high losses from wildfires.

The state with the most fire losses in 2020 was California, with $5.9 billion of consumer property losses. A total of $28 billion of the property was lost to fire across the United States. In residential properties, Texas accounted for 3,177 fires that caused 153 deaths and injured 710 people, while Florida reported 1,276 fires that caused 39 deaths and injured 288 people among its residents.

As structural fires decline, the number of deaths and injuries from these fires has increased. Advances in fire suppression technology and building construction have reduced the occurrence of fires but no injuries related to those fires.

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How Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Smoke and Fire Damage?

There are two main types of home insurance policies: HO-1 and HO-3. The first covers only certain perils and specific living expenses, while the second is a more robust policy that covers more and provides additional living expense coverage.

If you lose your house to fire or other damage, is that covered by home insurance? The answer might surprise you.

Fire-related losses often are excluded from standard homeowner policies. Some companies offer separate coverage for fire losses as additional endorsements.

Standard Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Dwelling Coverage

Dwelling coverage pays to repair or rebuild your home. If the fire damaged only part of your house, it pays for the cost of repairs. It also covers smoke damage, which may be extensive if the fire was in a bedroom or kitchen. Your insurance company will typically pay for up to the policy limit — or actual cash value or replacement cost — whichever is less.

Personal Property

Personal property policies pay to replace your personal belongings in the event of a fire. A typical insurance policy limits the total money it will pay per item. If you own valuables that you would not want to replace with store-bought goods, you may need an endorsement or schedule added to your home insurance policy.

Liability Protection

If a fire starts in your home and spreads to the neighbor’s property, your insurance won’t pay for the damages. Liability protection provides coverage for damage to others’ property, legal defense costs, and potential lawsuits if you are found legally responsible.

Additional Expenses

Your insurance company will pay for temporary lodging and food costs during your evacuation, usually for anywhere from 10% to 30% of the dwelling limit. You must provide receipts for these expenses and be prepared to substantiate them. Sample documentation may include a hotel receipt, meal receipts showing how many meals were purchased and how much they cost, a copy of any checked luggage tags, etc.

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Smoke and Fire Damage Covered Even if Cause is Accidental

A homeowners insurance policy can cover smoke and fire damage in several circumstances. If an accidental fire (from an unsupervised outlet, for example) starts at home and causes damage, the insurance policy will still cover the fire damage.

While you should be careful with candles and other ignitable items around the home, having the proper coverage can help you recover from any fires, even those caused by your negligence.

Steps to Protect Against Fire Damage

Florida fires tend to be caused by lightning strikes or careless smokers. A fire can destroy your home and all its contents in a few minutes. If you lack the proper coverage, you will be liable and must pay out of pocket for the damage.

Here are some tips on how to protect yourself from fire damage:

  • Make sure all smoke detectors in your home are properly working and are not more than ten years old. Replace them if necessary.
  • Remove flammable materials around your home such as newspapers, magazines, or clothes left on the clotheslines for too long.
  • Keep torches away from curtains or other flammable materials to prevent them from accidentally catching fire when left unattended for too long.

Insurance Rider for Homeowners Policy

A homeowners insurance rider, also called endorsement or floater, is an optional coverage added to your standard policy. A rider extends the coverage limits of your homeowners policy, and you can use it to expand the amount or add new kinds of coverage.

At High Risk of Fire? You May Need an Insurance Rider

Fire insurance is a great way to protect your home from fire damage. However, if you live in an area at high risk of fire damage, you may not have sufficient protection from your standard home or renters insurance.

Home insurance companies sometimes exclude homes classified as high risk from standard fire protection. However, you may be able to purchase separate fire insurance coverage to protect it from damage due to fire.

If you live in Florida, you may be eligible to receive up to $30,000 in additional coverage if smoke or fire damages your home. Florida law requires homeowners insurance companies to offer this type of rider to their policyholders. The added coverage can be applied to fire and smoke-related damages and other perils.

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OTM Restoration Can Restore Your Home from Smoke and Fire Damage

Fire losses can be devastating to your home and finances. The good news is that most standard homeowners insurance policies include all of these coverages. Check your policy to review the protections afforded to you.

Restore your home to pre-loss condition with the help of a professional property damage restoration company. After water, fire, mold, or smoke damage, our technicians have the skills and experience necessary to assess your situation and produce guaranteed results. With our detailed approach, we can restore your home to pre-loss condition quickly and efficiently so that you save money through home insurance policies, labor warranties, and guaranteed customer satisfaction. We’ve helped clients with fire damage restoration Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Brickell, and throughout South Florida.

For a free consultation and quote, contact us at 305-671-3226 today!