Who's Responsible if There’s an Electric Fire in Your New House?

And which insurance would pay for the damage?
Electric Fire

When you buy a new house, you can’t always be sure of everything that comes with it, including potentially risky behavior from its previous owners. So what happens if the last owner of your house had way too many electronics hooked up to the same breaker, and a fire broke out on the first day you moved in? Who’s responsible for this mess, anyway?

Luckily, an independent insurance agent can help you answer these important questions. Thanks to their experience with handling all kinds of unusual claims, they know exactly what kind of coverage to get you equipped with, and they’ll get you covered long before you ever need to file a claim. Here’s how they’d help protect you against an electric fire upon moving into your new house.

Who’s Responsible if There’s an Electric Fire in Your New House?

Unfortunately, this kind of scenario happens more often than you might think. Even though the fire would technically be the fault of the previous homeowner for overloading the circuit breaker, you as the current homeowner would still be held responsible for filing any insurance claims and organizing repairs to the house. However, this is why insurance companies often conduct property inspections up front, to help mitigate potential risks like this.

If It’s All on You, How Does Property Insurance Help?

Well sadly, in this case it likely is going to be all on you. Fortunately, your homeowners insurance would still protect you through its property coverage section.

Property insurance covers the following:

  • The dwelling: Otherwise known as the structure of the home itself, the dwelling is protected against damage due to covered perils like fires. Property insurance reimburses the homeowner for repairs to the property.
  • Personal property: Personal property such as clothing, knickknacks, furniture, etc., is covered under property insurance up to your policy’s limit if it’s damaged/destroyed/lost in a fire.

Though you’ll hopefully never have to deal with a fire right away after moving into a new house, it’s still good to know that property coverage would help you out in this tragic scenario.

What if Someone Got Hurt? How Would Liability Insurance Cover You?

Say that someone was in your home when the fire broke out and got injured as a result. They might decide to sue you, which would make the situation even more of a nightmare. As the homeowner, you’re responsible for injuries to third parties, even if the cause of the fire wasn’t technically your fault. That’s why it’s fortunate that the liability coverage section of your homeowners insurance would also protect you.

Liability coverage protects against the following:

  • Legal fees: Liability coverage pays for attorney, court, and legal fees, including any settlements you’re ordered to pay if you’re found responsible for the claim.
  • Medical payments: Liability coverage also pays for costs relating to third-party injuries. If someone was injured in your new house’s fire, liability coverage would cover their medical bills.

Though legal cases can be both costly and stressful, luckily, homeowners insurance provides some critical relief through its liability coverage.

What Else Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Aside from dwelling, property, and liability coverage, there’s still more that homeowners insurance is responsible for protecting. Standard homeowners policies also provide important coverage for additional living expenses in the event your home is badly damaged or even destroyed, forcing you to live elsewhere temporarily while awaiting repairs.

Additional living expenses include things like hotel rooms, eating meals out, extra gas mileage to work, laundry services, and more. Coverage is meant to make up the difference in cost to the homeowner to continue their normal living routine while they’re forced to be away from their home.

Would This Incident Affect My Homeowners Premium?

Not likely. Single incidents don’t typically affect insurance premiums. In this case you’d also have the fact that the fire wasn’t technically your fault on your side, so your insurance company would be unlikely to punish you. That being said, if you were to start filing fire claims frequently or it became a trend, especially due to your own negligence, your insurance company may decide to hike your premium or even choose to not renew your policy after its term expired.


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Other Common Risks You Should Consider Coverage For

Though fires are one of the most common and costly hazards to homeowners, there are many reasons you should be equipped with an adequate insurance policy. Fortunately, the following common perils are also covered by under the property damage section of standard homeowners insurance policies:

  • Theft and vandalism
  • Automatic sprinkler leakage
  • Accidental fire and smoke damage
  • Building and sinkhole collapse
  • Windstorms/hail
  • Lightning
  • Volcanic action
  • Most explosions
  • Riot/civil commotion
  • Certain water/liquid damage

An independent insurance agent will help you consider all risks unique to your home and ensure that you get set up with all the property damage coverage you could ever need. They’ll also be able to review your specific insurance policy and spot coverage gaps in any areas of concern. If you’re lacking protection in an area, they’ll help to patch those holes.

What Doesn’t Homeowners Insurance Cover?

While it’s certainly important to know what’s covered under your homeowners policy, it’s equally important to know what’s not covered in case you need to file a claim or add extra protection. Standard homeowners policies across the country do not provide coverage for the following:

  • Wear and tear damage (i.e., lack of upkeep)
  • Damage from war or nuclear fallout
  • Maintenance-related losses
  • Business-related liability
  • Insect damage or infestations
  • Certain natural disasters (i.e., floods, earthquakes, and mudslides)

To protect your home against flood damage, you’d need a special flood insurance policy, which is only available through the National Flood Insurance Program. For protection against earthquakes and mudslides, you’d need an earth movement policy. If your house is located in an area prone to any of these disasters, it’s a really good idea to look into getting these important coverages.

If you’re concerned about any areas where your homeowners insurance doesn’t offer coverage, work with your independent insurance agent to get set up with all the protection you might need. It’s best to get all the coverage you need from day one, so you’re never left paying for unforeseen catastrophes out of your own pocket.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting new homeowners against breaker fires and all other unfortunate incidents, no one’s better equipped to help than an independent insurance agent. Independent insurance agents search through multiple carriers to find providers who specialize in homeowners 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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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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