What Happens When a Fourth of July Bonfire Gets out of Control?

Find out if your homeowners insurance covers this disaster and more.
Christine Lacagnina Written by Christine Lacagnina
Christine Lacagnina
Written by Christine Lacagnina

Christine Lacagnina has written thousands of insurance-based articles for TrustedChoice.com by authoring consumable, understandable content.

paul martin Reviewed by Paul Martin
paul martin
Reviewed by Paul Martin

Paul Martin is the Director of Education and Development for Myron Steves, one of the largest, most respected insurance wholesalers in the southern U.S.

Fourth of July bonfire

You know your homeowners insurance protects you from many common threats to your home, but you might be unsure of which exact accidents are covered. So what if you host a bonfire on the 4th of July that gets out of hand and winds up burning down your garage? Does your homeowners insurance still cover you even if you set up the fire pit too close to your home?

For questions like this, it’s important to hear the answers straight from the real pros, AKA independent insurance agents. Ask agents anything. They have the answers. Here’s what they’d say about whether your homeowners insurance would cover you in the event your July 4th bonfire got too hot to handle.

Am I Covered If My Bonfire Gets Out of Control?

Yes, your homeowners insurance would cover you in this scenario. Homeowners insurance provides coverage for many common hazards to the home, including fires. A bonfire is a covered peril too, even if yours accidentally gets out of hand. That being said, always be sure to take the proper precautions whenever starting or hosting any type of fire. Beyond just your home, the safety of you and your guests should be the top priority, regardless of if you have insurance.

Is Fire Coverage Included in Every Home Policy?

Again the answer is yes, and in fact, fire is one of the main coverages homeowners insurance is designed for in the first place. So, you’ll find fire coverage is included in standard homeowners insurance policies across the country. This includes many different types of fire damage, including from bonfires, kitchen fires, electrical fires, and more. Still, it’s always important to have fire safety equipment, such as extinguishers, on hand just in case of disaster.

What Else Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Homeowners insurance provides protection for your physical property and the building of your home itself, but also much more. The four major coverage areas provided by standard homeowners policies are:

  • Additional living expenses: Covers extra costs if your home gets badly damaged or destroyed and forces you to live elsewhere temporarily. Reimbursement for things like hotel rooms, eating out, extra gas mileage, and more is covered. If your bonfire only damaged your garage, you might not need to rely on this part of your coverage.
  • Personal property damage: Covers personal belongings like furniture, collectibles, clothing, and more from incidents like fires. Property stored off-premises is often covered too, though with a much lower limit.
  • Structural damage: Covers the “dwelling,” or structure of the home. Damage to/destruction of the dwelling is covered against listed perils, including fires.
  • Liability: Covers legal expenses like attorney/court fees if you’re sued for bodily injury or property damage to a third party, such as after your bonfire. Settlements you’re ordered to pay if you lose the case are also covered.

Your independent insurance agent can get you set up with the right homeowners insurance to protect you and your home from hazards you might not even be able to think of right away. Beyond just out-of-control bonfires, there are many unforeseen catastrophes all homeowners need coverage for.


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What If Someone Gets Hurt at the Bonfire?

Fortunately the liability coverage section of your homeowners insurance would protect you in case of third-party injuries at your bonfire. Liability coverage reimburses homeowners for all legal expenses, including attorney and court fees, and medical payments to cover your guests’ injuries if they require treatment. So, not only are you covered if they sue you after the incident, but their medical care will also be taken care of by your homeowners policy.

What If My Bonfire Was Too Close to My Home, Would I Still Be Covered?

If the bonfire you started was set up too close to your home and broke local ordinances, you’d still be covered for property damage and liabilities by your homeowners insurance. There aren’t any exclusions under homeowners insurance related to breaking local ordinances. Obviously there are many common-sense reasons you shouldn’t establish a fire close to your home or other structures, but your policy would still protect you if you did so.

How Would This Incident Affect My Premiums?

Well, it wouldn’t be likely to affect your premium after a single incident like this one. However, you should be more concerned about whether your homeowners insurance would renew your policy. Especially if you started the fire too close to your home in the first place, your insurance company could certainly decide not to renew your policy past its expiration date. In order to avoid having your coverage canceled, always research local ordinances and practice fire safety.

Other Common Risks Worth Considering Coverage for

Your homeowners insurance provides all kinds of protection beyond just fire damage and liability coverage. Homeowners insurance considers many common hazards that all homeowners can face, and includes a generous list of covered perils.

Standard homeowners insurance covers the following perils:

  • Most explosions
  • Riots and civil commotions
  • Many natural disasters (i.e., windstorms, hail, lightning, and blizzards)
  • Aircraft or vehicle damage
  • Falling objects (and trees)
  • Water damage
  • Theft and vandalism
  • Fire and smoke

Your independent insurance agent can help you review your homeowners insurance policy to address all areas where your coverage protects you. If you’re concerned that you’re lacking enough coverage in any way, they’ll be able to help you get the additional protection you need to feel safe.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting your home against out-of-control bonfires and all other atypical incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. These agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners, liability, and property insurance, deliver quotes from a number of different sources, and help you walk through them all to find the best blend of coverage and cost.

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