With fires on the rise, is this the only insurance you need?

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Your current homeowners policy may not provide enough protection.

Main points

  • As of August 14, there have been 56 major wildfires in the US this year.
  • Fire insurance covers property damage and other losses suffered by fire.
  • Homeowners insurance often includes fire insurance, but you may need additional coverage if you live in a high-risk area for wildfires.

If you feel like you’re seeing more stories on the news about wildfires, there’s a reason for that. Wildfires are on the rise in 2022. As of August 14, there have been 56 large fires in the US this year, burning over 1.4 million acres. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the current numbers are higher than the 10-year national average. The total number of wildfires in the US in 2022 is 42,104, burning over 5.9 million acres.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies often include fire damage coverage. But does the standard insurance policy cover fire damage? The answer may depend on where you live and the local wildfire threat. Understanding fire insurance and what it covers will help determine if you need additional coverage to protect your home.

What is fire insurance?

Fire insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for damage to your home and other property due to a fire. Standard homeowners insurance policies include fire insurance. However, in some cases, you may want or need to purchase additional independent fire coverage, particularly if you live in a high-risk area or if your policy excludes fire protection.

What does fire insurance cover?

Fire insurance policies can vary, but they usually cover any costs associated with a fire on your property, including damage to your home and personal property inside your home. Policies often cover living costs, such as meals and lodging, if you have to vacate your home while it is being repaired. Depending on your policy, fire insurance may extend to detached structures on your property, such as a shed or detached garage.

Fire insurance does not cover everything. It does not cover fire damage if the property is vacant for more than 30 days or is subject to arson. Other restrictions may apply depending on the policy.

How does it work with homeowners or renters insurance?

A standard homeowner’s policy often includes coverage for damages and losses that occur due to a fire. You should understand that it may not cover everything, especially if you live somewhere with higher fire risks. It also does not cover vehicle damage from a fire, which would fall under your auto insurance policy. Review your policy to determine if there are any exclusions.

If you rent, your homeowner’s insurance should cover damage to the property. However, it usually does not extend to the tenant’s personal property. To cover your belongings against fire damage, you need a separate renters insurance policy.

Do you need fire insurance?

A home is often your most expensive and most important investment. Having the right insurance coverage is not only a good idea, but often a necessity, especially if you live in a high-risk area.

Risk assessment company Verisk analyzed housing in the western US and identified over 4.7 million homes that would be categorized as being at high or extreme risk for fire damage. As you might guess, states like California, Texas, and Colorado ranked high with the most at-risk homes. These states are known for frequent fires. If you live in a high-risk state, you may want to consider purchasing an additional fire insurance policy for your home.

It’s important to make sure your home is covered against fire damage, whether the coverage is part of your homeowners policy or a separate fire insurance policy. You can also protect your home from fires through proper safety measures such as installing smoke detectors, purchasing a fire extinguisher, and keeping a 30-foot perimeter around your home free of non-fire-resistant plants.

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