As a homeowner, it is crucial that you understand what your home insurance policy covers in case of fire damage. Standard home insurance policies typically cover damages caused by fire. However, fires caused by arson will automatically void your claim.
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Understanding Covered and Uncovered Fire Damage
The National Fire Prevention Association shares, that in 2017 the U.S. fire department responded to one fire every 24 seconds. This huge number of fires have not only destroyed properties but also put many lives in danger. In 2017, there have been 499,000 structural fires in the U.S., 77% of these fires occurred in home structures. Due to the nature of fires and the damage it can cause, home insurance has become a necessity for most cities and localities. Nevertheless, while home insurance can be extremely helpful when it comes to fire damage, there are times when your claim will be denied. Arson is one of the most common reasons why your insurance claim will be denied.
Arson is a criminal act with the deliberate intent to cause a fire to the property. When a person intentionally uses fire to destroy a building, home, car, or even wildland, it can be ruled as arson. To be considered arson, there must be a deliberate or purposeful intent by an offender to set fire. Unintentional or accidental fires, as well as, spontaneous combustion is not considered arson.
When a fire occurs, the town’s fire department will make an investigation. In some cases, the home insurance company will also have an investigation of their own. Your fire department’s investigation will help determine the cause of the fire.
Why Is Arson Not Covered?
Since arson is an illegal act, an insurance company has the right to deny compensation for it. This kind of prohibition deters abusive homeowners from maliciously setting fire to their homes. In the past, there have been numerous attempts when homeowners will cause a fire so that they can file a claim.
While the non-coverage of arson has great intentions, there are also many cases when insurance companies also abuse this provision. There have been complaints against insurance companies in which legitimate fire damage claims are not granted. In some cases, when the local fire department is unable to pinpoint the cause of the fire, it is automatically ruled as arson.
Home Insurance Coverage on Fire Damage
Your home insurance policy will pay for any fire damage that is accidental, sudden, and unintentional. Standard policies will usually include coverage for damage to the structure, contents in the building, and additional living expenses in case you will be unable to live in your home while it is undergoing repair or rebuilding. In some cases, detached structures such as a shed, fences, or garage may also be covered by an insurance policy.
In the event that you experience accidental and unintentional damage, it is important that you inform your insurance company immediately. Your local fire department will conduct an investigation to determine the cause of the fire. It is likely that you will be informed that it is an accidental fire and you can then proceed to process a claim.
In case the insurance company will deny your claim, there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Insurance companies cannot deny your request for compensation for no reason at all. It is most likely that they will not allow a claim due to suspicion or speculation that an intentional fire (arson) has occurred. Before denying your claim, they must provide solid evidence and facts that the fire damage was caused by arson.
- You need to work closely with your local fire department’s investigator who will be inspecting your property. In some cases, you can hire an independent fire investigator to get a second opinion for the fire damage.