According to the National Fire Protection Agency, an independent commission that compiles data for the purposes of improving fire safety, there are over 350,000 residential fires each year in the United States. These fires are responsible for approximately $8 billion in property damage, 13,000 civilian injuries, and 2,500 deaths annually. While these statistics may be seeing gradual improve year-over-year, living structure fires are still a major safety concern for responsible homeowners. One of the ways in which homeowners can protect themselves from loss is by obtaining home insurance coverage that includes fire damage.
Homeowners insurance is a contract between a homeowner and insurer that protects a property against various forms of damage up to a specified amount in exchange for the payment of smaller monthly premiums. Policies vary based on state regulations and even between insurers, however standard policies do not typically protect against damage caused by fire without obtaining additional coverage. Once purchased, fire insurance covers four distinct domains: dwelling (the physical structure of the residence), other structures (such as a pool house or garage), contents (personal belongings and valuables stored in the dwelling or in the other structures), and additional expenses (such as the cost of acquiring a temporary residence while one’s home is repaired or rebuilt).
The cost of fire insurance for a home or rental unit is not easily calculated and varies based on the total value insured, consisting of the dwelling, other structures, contents, and the maximum potential coverage for additional expenses. However, deductions to monthly premiums can be earned by demonstrating that the home is properly equipped to reduce the chances that a claim will be filed. The most popular of these discounts is earned by equipping the home with smoke detectors (which is required by law in some states). Further discounts can be offered based on the materials used in construction of the dwelling, such as if the building is primarily brick, stone, or concrete. Having a remotely monitored fire system generally provides the largest possible discount, averaging about 11% of the overall homeowners’ policy premium.
Despite the precautions that one can take to minimize exposure to fire risk, such as installing smoke and heat detectors, conforming to fire codes, and keeping fire extinguishers on hand, accidents can and do happen. The monetary costs associated with residential fires can be difficult to recover from and, in some cases, devastating. One is not absolved of the responsibility of paying back a mortgage if the property is destroyed by fire. Sometimes obtaining fire insurance can mean the difference between continuing a normal life and filing for bankruptcy. Be responsible and don’t let a preventable disaster happen to you
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