Fire! What Does Your Insurance Cover?

I came home yesterday to a raging fire at the home of my neighbor across the street.  As a total of 12 fire trucks roared onto my block along with police and EMS trucks my immediate thoughts were of the safety this very elderly man and his caregiver. Thankfully they were both safe.

The fire department efficiently doused the home putting out a fire that could easily have spread to other homes since the homes on that side of the street are all attached to each other from one  end of the block to other.  Also, my mother owns one of the homes across the street, and I prayed that it would not spread.  As neighbors poured out of their homes to watch the fire fighters do their job, they shared stories of the telephone service being out and their homes smelling of smoke.

Once we were assured that everything was safe, I thought of the property damage and loss that this man had surely suffered.  Even though the fire had not spread too far, the water damage may lead to mold which would require the home to be internally gutted.  The homes are beautiful Tudor style brick homes with lots of wood on the interior.  Beautiful, but horrible in a fire.

The fire reminded me to check the batteries in my alarms, and my insurance policy!  If you have not done so recently, be sure to revisit your insurance policies.  Upgrade  your insurance levels to cover the full replacement damage of not just the home, but your property as well.  Many insurance policies will not cover the following:

  • Mold and water based damage
  • Floods (you must purchase insurance for this separately).  Check out FEMA’s website for more information.
  • Land and home damage from earthquakes (California anyone?)
  • Damage from pollutions
  • Intentional damage
  • Anything structure used primarily for business.  You need separate insurance for that
  • Insect and rodent infestation
  • Crap construction
  • Property belonging to tenants. More about that below.
  • Any pets residing on the property.

I mentioned that property belonging to tenants are not covered by home insurance.  You should be especially interested in this if you are a renter.  You should purchase renter’s insurance yourself.  It is incredibly cheap and just makes good financial sense to have since your landlord will most likely not cover losses that you might have sustained in case of a disaster.

Renter’s insurance will typically cover damage from fire, theft and vandalism. I have read that the average cost of renter’s insurance is $12 per month for every $30,000 of coverage.  You read that correctly.  Your car insurance is likely 10 times more than that.  Of course deductibles can range from $500 on upward, so select a level that you are comfortable with.  You can probably purchase this insurance from the same insurance companies that provide coverage for your car and life, but be sure to shop around.

One more thing to remember.  Replacing some documents can be very arduous and difficult.  I always recommend a second copy of your driver’s license at you parent’s or sibling’s home.  Consider storing important documents such as passports in fire retardant boxes at home or at safe deposit boxes at  a bank.

Has disaster ever struck your home?  How did you make it through?

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5 thoughts on “Fire! What Does Your Insurance Cover?

  • I’ve had renter’s insurance for years (though not as inexpensive as $12 a month!) and though I’ve been lucky enough not to have used it, I’m so glad I have it. At our last rental, the owner of the house let his home owner’s insurance coverage lapse; he was such a slumlord. We only knew about it because he had asked my husband to help him fix the exterior windows so that he could get approved by the insurance company. Had anything ever happened, our stuff would have been covered, but his home would not have.

  • I was in the Northridge earthquake. I lived in Northridge at the time. I was very lucky, the damage was very superficial. Less than $500. It made me realize the “big” one could really be coming! A year after the earthquake, I rented my house to a person who was rebuilding their house. I realized that inconvenience of moving out of your home and the associated costs can be up to a year or more. I also, realized there are things like pictures, papers, and other special things that are irreplaceable.

    • Earthquakes are tough because you just can’t ever be prepared for one. There is no detector that you can attach to your home for an earthquake, and if your home is structurally unsafe, they might not even let you back in to get your things.

      The most important thing of course is your safety and then the next is shelter.

  • It always helps to take lots of photographs of valuables and if you have still retained them, to store invoices and receipts of your important purchases as these really help when you have to file a home insurance claim. One receipt can help tell the difference between an ordinary carpet and a family heirloom.

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