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Fire/smoke/explosion insurance can help offset the costs to replace or repair property that is damaged by fire, beyond the limit set by your homeowners policy. This coverage is optional and additional, but it can provide excellent coverage if you live in a fire-prone area or desire more protection for your property.
While you can’t be around to prevent every single fire or explosion, you can prepare for the unexpected. Fire/smoke/explosion insurance provides valuable protection that can help you rebuild your life if disaster strikes.
This handy guide from home and car insurance super app Jerry will explain what Fire/smoke/explosion insurance covers, what is excluded, how to file a claim, how reimbursement works, and how to decide whether or not you need this type of coverage.
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What is fire/smoke/explosion insurance?
Fire/smoke/explosion insurance is a type of policy that offers additional protection for your home and your belongings if they become damaged as a result of fire, smoke, or explosion.
A standard homeowners policy does offer some fire protection but some homeowners may want more coverage. That’s because most basic policies have limits for fire-related damage.
If an explosion destroys your home, the standard policy may not cover the full cost of replacement, repair, or reconstruction—and you’d have to pay out-of-pocket. With additional fire/smoke/explosion insurance, your payout will be higher.
For instance, if you have standard homeowners insurance and your home is deemed a total loss, you’ll likely be entitled to the home’s current market value plus the market value of your lost possessions. The typical cap on what an insurance company will pay for lost possessions is around 50%-70% of the policy’s value.
So if your home is worth $500,000, your possessions will likely be covered anywhere from $250,000-$375,000. You may determine that this is not enough coverage to restore your losses. Fire, smoke and explosion insurance provides extra security by increasing the amount of coverage for your personal possessions and your home’s damage.
What does it cover?
A fire/smoke/explosion insurance property covers specific items and specific causes. You can customize your policy to ensure that you have the coverage you need.
Which property is covered?
Typical coverage includes your dwelling and attached structures (like a garage). Detached structures, aka “other structures coverage”, may include a detached garage, shed, and fences. Some landscaping may be covered, too.
Personal property, like clothing, furniture, and appliances, is also covered. Luxury items will either have a coverage limit or may not be covered at all. You can “schedule” certain items for coverage if you need extra protection.
There is usually some provision for temporary loss of use reimbursements if your home becomes completely uninhabitable after a covered incident.
What causes are covered?
Accidental candle fires, grease fires, electrical fires, and gas explosions are all covered. Anything that was determined to be negligent or intentional will not be covered.
Wildfires and may or may not be covered by a fire/smoke/explosion insurance policy. This usually varies by geographic region. Check your policy carefully or ask the insurance agent. In areas with an extremely high risk of wildfire, homeowners may need a wildfire-specific insurance policy.
How does fire/smoke/explosion insurance work?
First, let’s learn how to build a policy, and then we’ll explain how to file a claim.
The first step is to choose a limit that reflects the value of your home and your possessions. Your dwelling coverage limit should be based on what it would cost to rebuild your home today. Construction costs typically increase over time, so base your limit on current rates.
The second step is to determine which items, if any, need additional coverage. Your policy will cover the interior and exterior of the house, assets kept on the property, and some or all of the property and detached structures. If you have rare and expensive items, you may need extra coverage.
If you need to file a claim, document the damage and then submit all information to the insurance company.
- Your name and policy number
- Date and time of the event
- Documentation, including photos and descriptions
- Fire or police report
To process your claim, the company may send an adjuster out to assess the damage in person. It may take between 48 hours and many months to receive your payment, based on the severity of the damage and how fast your insurance company operates.
You will receive a check based on which type of policy you had, either ACV (actual cash value) or replacement cost.
Be careful when claiming against both your homeowners and fire/smoke/insurance policies for the same incident. Your policies should complement one another to provide additional coverage.
Finding the right policy
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