According to the US Fire Administration, 1.3 million structure fires were reported during 2018, which caused a total of $25.6 billion in losses—an increase of more than 90 percent from 2009. Together, fires are one of the most common causes of home damage.
When it comes to this cause of loss, though, are you and your family adequately covered? I’ll briefly outline what you need to know and how you can learn more.
How Does Your Homeowner’s Insurance Look at Fire Damage?
All homeowner’s insurance policies provide protection (personal property, the dwelling itself, other structures) against damage from specific perils or causes of loss. One of these perils is fire and lightning, along with damage resulting from smoke, which is outlined in the policy’s jacket.
Related: The 5 Parts of an Auto & Home Policy
Even under bare-bones homeowner’s coverage, you’ll find that fire and lightning are commonly insured perils. This includes associated costs like hotel stays, vehicle rentals, eating out more (food), etc.
Even if your home caught fire and sparked another fire on your neighbor’s roof, the liability portion of your homeowner’s policy would likely pay to repair the associated damage.
Do Homeowner’s Policies Pay for Fire Department Charges?
When a fire department visits your home, it’s not always free. In some instances, you could be assessed a fee that goes by a variety of names, including “emergency response fee,” “first responder fee,” and “accident response fee,” to highlight just a few.
Whatever it’s called, these controversial fees can vary depending on where you live. As a couple of examples, in the District of Columbia (DC), “the Fire and EMS Department only charges fees for ambulance transport. Fire trucks can respond to 911 calls faster than ambulances, meaning emergency personnel get to you quicker. No fees are charged for this service.”
On the other hand, the Fire Engineering Training Community reports that three percent of fire departments in the state of Iowa assess firefighting fees. In contrast, the Insurance Information Institute says these emergency fees are currently banned in 10 other states.
What happens if you’re assessed one of these fees? Again, depending on where you live, some fire departments bill homeowners, while others send bills directly to the homeowner’s insurance provider. Either way, will your policy provide related coverage?
As I’ve discussed in many of our other articles, it all depends on the type of homeowner’s policy you have, along with the coverage and endorsements you’ve chosen. With this important caveat in mind, many carriers offer some level of coverage for fire department emergency fees, typically up to $500 or $1,000.
Important: Keep in mind, however, that you’ll still have to pay your policy’s deductible. As a result, fire department fees, when covered, are typically part of a much larger fire-related claim.
Do You Have Additional Questions About Fire Protection Under Your Homeowner’s Policy?
Although fire and lightning are commonly covered perils under most homeowner’s policies, figuring out exactly how much coverage you need in the first place can be daunting. The good news?
The team at IHS Insurance Group has decades of combined experience that can walk you through all the different perils insured under your policy, as well as how much coverage you need to protect your assets adequately?
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