Who's Responsible if Your Brand-New House Has an Electrical Fire?

(And whose insurance pays for the damage?)

Outlet Fire

Buying a new home isn’t always just an exciting and rewarding experience. Sometimes a home comes with a set of serious issues, even if the construction is recent. So, what happens if you’ve just bought a new home and an electrical fire from an outlet causes your garage to burn down? 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 interesting claims, they’ve seen and heard it all, and they know exactly what kind of protection you need as a result. They’ll get you set up with all the coverage you need, long before you ever need it. Here’s how they’d help protect you against an outlet fire in your new house.

Who’s Responsible if Your New House Has an Electrical Short and Fire?

In this tragic scenario, the person responsible would be the contractor who did the work to install the outlets and electrical system behind them. The electrical contractor would be held liable for botching their work and presenting a dangerous living condition. There’s no way that you, as the homeowner, could have known about this danger before moving in. Knowing this, you can move forward and start by filing a claim through your homeowners insurance.

How Would the Contractor Be Held Liable?

As the homeowner, the only step you’ll have to take is to file a claim through your homeowners insurance. From there, your homeowners insurance company will sue the contracting company to recoup their losses after paying out your claim. Whoever hired the contractor in the first place, if they were being responsible, would have checked to ensure that the contracting company was both licensed and insured before trusting them to do the work.

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

Well, the good news is that it’s not all on you, and there’s no way to spin this situation so that it should ever end up being your fault. An outlet fire caused by shoddy electrical work is not the homeowner’s mistake. However, your homeowners insurance would help by reimbursing for the damage to your home through its property damage coverage.

Property insurance covers the following:

  • The dwelling: This is also known as the structure of the home itself. If it’s damaged due to a covered peril like a fire, property insurance will reimburse the homeowner for repairs.
  • Personal property: Any personal property you had stored in the garage, such as boxes of clothing you hadn’t finished unpacking, would be covered under your property insurance up to your policy’s limit if it was damaged/destroyed/lost in the fire.

While a fire in your new home would be a tragic event, fortunately property insurance would at least help to reimburse you for financial losses and help to get your home repaired.

What if Someone Was Hurt? How Does Liability Insurance Work Here?

If someone was in your garage when the fire happened and got injured as a result, they could sue you. Even though the source of the fire was not your fault, you are still responsible for injuries to third parties that happen on your property. Fortunately, the liability coverage section of your homeowners insurance would protect you.

Homeowners insurance includes liability coverage that protects against the following:

  • Legal fees: Liability coverage pays for attorney, court, and legal fees, including any settlements you may be ordered to pay in the event you are found responsible for the claim.
  • Medical payments: Your liability coverage also pays for injuries to a third party. If someone was injured in your garage fire, your liability coverage would pay for the cost of their medical bills.

Legal cases can be extremely stressful, costly, and time-consuming. Fortunately, homeowners insurance provides some relief through the liability coverage aspect of the policy.

What if I Decide to Sue the Contractor Myself?

In the event that you’re especially angry at the contractor who installed the outlets in your new home, you could decide to sue them directly. To do this, you would still file a claim through your homeowners insurance. The liability coverage section of your policy would pay for your attorney and other legal costs.

How Would This Incident Affect My Premiums?

Fortunately, single incidents are often unlikely to affect your insurance premium, especially since the fire wasn’t actually your fault. Insurance companies don’t typically punish policyholders for single incidents. However, 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.

Other Common Risks You Should Consider Coverage For

While outlet fires due to negligent contracting work are certainly a concern, there are also plenty of other property damage risks that homeowners absolutely need to consider protecting. Fortunately, the following common perils are also covered by under the property damage section of standard homeowners insurance policies:

  • Fire
  • Theft
  • Vandalism
  • Building collapse
  • Sinkhole collapse
  • Automatic sprinkler leakage
  • Lightning
  • Volcanic action
  • Most explosions
  • Windstorms/hail
  • Accidental fire and resulting smoke damage
  • Riot/civil commotion
  • Certain types of water/other liquid damage

An independent insurance agent will help to 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.

Here’s How an Independent Insurance Agent Would Help

When it comes to protecting new homeowners against garage outlet fires and 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 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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