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Fire insurance can protect your home and belongings if embers from the chimney ignite your carpet or a wildfire engulfs your neighborhood. But understand how to get a fair settlement given the coverage you bought.
Yes. Fire insurance is a type of coverage included in most homeowners insurance policies. It will pay to repair or replace your home and your belongings if they are damaged by fire. Plus, it often includes additional benefits like paying for your temporary accommodation if you can no longer live in your damaged house.
Most homeowners insurance policies include both dwelling coverage and personal property coverage, which means that it covers both your house and your possessions. Both of these groups are covered for fire damage.
If fire damages your home, most policies will cover you for the following:
This protects the belongings that are in your house, like your TV and clothes. Most policies will cover you for:
While a standard homeowners insurance policy covers fire damage, dwelling insurance pays to repair your house, but not your belongings, after a fire. This can be used to pay for damage above your homeowners insurance maximum. Whether or not you need this will depend on your homeowners insurance maximums, so talk with your insurer to find out how you’re covered.
You can also purchase a standalone fire insurance policy to protect you against fires if you don’t have a homeowners insurance policy. But not buying a more comprehensive home insurance policy leaves you unprotected against storms, burglary and a host of other risks.
Yes, depending on where you live. While a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover wildfires and house fires, they can be excluded from coverage in areas that are at high risk. If your policy doesn’t include coverage for wildfires, you may be able to purchase a standalone fire insurance policy.
In some areas with a high risk of wildfires, like California, home insurance lenders may have stricter requirements for insuring homes near forests or in areas where fires are likely. There may also be additional requirements to get insurance, such as managing undergrowth or trees on the property. Fire mitigation techniques are increasingly common to get insurance in these high-risk areas.
The best way to find out how you’re covered for wildfires is to read your policy or contact your insurer. And if you’re looking for a new policy, check with your insurer before signing any paperwork.
Some areas offer state-run programs that offer fire insurance to people who have been denied coverage. For example, the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plan serves homeowners in high risk areas who might not otherwise be approved for a fire insurance policy.
Underinsurance is when you don’t have enough insurance to completely replace your home and belongings if they were completely destroyed. For example, if you have your home insured for $1 million but it’s really worth $2 million, you’d be out-of-pocket $1 million if a fire completely destroyed your house.
You can avoid underinsurance by insuring your home for its entire value rather than insuring it for less just to save on your monthly premium. You should also get your home appraised regularly or after a renovation and adjust your insurance based on any increase or decrease in your home’s value.
If your home or belongings were destroyed by fire, you’ll want to get somewhere safe until the authorities put out the fire. After you and everyone around you is safe, you can start thinking about your claim.
How to make sure you get the settlement you deserve:
Here are a few steps you can take to help the claims process run smoothly:
All policies have exclusions or situations where you would not be covered. Common exclusions include:
Not typically, but it depends on how the fire started. If your car is the only thing that caught fire, your car insurance will be responsible for the cost. But if your home burned down and your garage and car caught fire from the flames, your homeowners insurance should cover it.
Keeping your house protected from fire goes beyond insurance—you can improve your home’s construction and landscaping for fire safety too. Tips to try:
A homeowners insurance policy will cover fire damage. But if you live in a wildfire zone or need to increase your coverage, adding standalone fire insurance and renovating your property for fire safety can go a long way.
To build the policy that’s best for you, compare homeowners insurance policies.
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