According to the National Fire Protection Association, most homeowners will experience a fire on their property once every five years. It's usually not a matter of if you experience a residential fire in North Dakota but when. Some homeowners do not realize they don't carry sufficient fire insurance to protect their losses against fire until it's too late. Before you search for fire insurance, there are several factors to consider.
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Residential Fire Facts
The following are facts are from the National Fire Protection Association:
- More than 1.3 million fires occurred in the U.S. during 2012 alone.
- More than 2,800 people lost their lives in residential fires that same year.
- These fires caused an estimated $12.4 billion in property damage.
- During 2012, fire departments responded to a fire every 23 seconds.
- Cooking mishaps were the cause of more than 70% of all residential fires.
What Is Fire Insurance?
Most traditional homeowners insurance policies cover fires. Long gone are the days when homeowners had to purchase fire plaques from the local fire department to indicate they had homeowners insurance. However, because fires can cause extensive damage and often render entire homes or apartment complexes uninhabitable, homeowners should review their property insurance policies every two years or so to ensure they carry sufficient fire insurance coverage in the event of a total loss due to fire.
How Do You Know If You Carry Enough Insurance?
During a review of your homeowners insurance policy, it's a good idea to have your property assessed by a professional, especially if you haven't done it for a few years. As the housing market rebounds, home values are quickly increasing in some areas. You want to be sure the coverage you carry reflects any change in value your home is experiencing.
Many people rely on the market valuation that local municipalities make of homes during property tax time. These valuations can lag behind actual market value, so you may decide to have a professional assessment done on your property rather than depend on the tax evaluation.
If you are thinking of upgrading your homeowners coverage or getting quotes from different insurers, you should be familiar with the factors that insurers use in determining your insurance quotes, such as the following:
- Type of home
- Age of home
- Value of home
- Location of home
- Desired coverage limits
- Desired deductibles
What About Insuring Personal Belongings?
Another important step during this review process is to take a second look at your contents coverage, or the personal property aspect, of your homeowners insurance policy.
You may have made significant purchases since you first moved into your home and obtained insurance. If you replaced any furniture or appliances or you added to your art or jewelry collections, your contents coverage may no longer be sufficient.
Be sure to calculate the value of everything you own – from books and electronics to expensive equipment and clothing. The total value of your possessions should give you an idea of how much personal property insurance you should carry in the event you lose everything to fire.
Choosing the Right Coverage Options
Most insurance companies will allow you to choose when it comes to contents coverage. In North Dakota, two common types of coverage options include actual cash value and replacement cost reimbursement methods. The difference between the two can make or break your ability to recover quickly following a severe fire:
- Actual cash value: This type of reimbursement takes depreciation into account. For example, if your 15-year-old stove is lost to a cooking fire, your insurance company will only compensate you the cost it takes to purchase a used, 15-year-old stove.
- Replacement cost: This type of reimbursement ignores depreciation. Using the same example, your North Dakota insurance company would compensate you for the cost to replace your old stove with a brand new one of comparable features.
If you have aging appliances, you may find that the slightly increased premium you'd pay for replacement cost coverage is worth the added layer of protection in case of a fire.
Choosing the Appropriate Deductible for Fire Protection
The final aspect that you should review on your homeowners insurance policy is your deductible. Because fires can cause extensive damage, it is extremely important to choose a deductible that you can comfortably afford to pay should you need to file a claim.
You don't want to wait for compensation from your insurance company following a severe fire while you save up to afford the deductible. Choose a reasonable amount before you need to file a claim.
Could Your Insurance Company Deny a Fire Damage Claim?
In some cases, it is possible for an insurance company to refuse to compensate you for fire damage claims, as in the following circumstances:
- The property owner refused to call the fire department
- The home was not equipped with smoke alarms, fire extinguishers or other fire prevention equipment
- The fire resulted due to gross homeowner negligence
To avoid the potential of having your claim denied, it is vital to check all smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in the home every six months. If a blaze breaks out in your home, call your local North Dakota fire department as soon as you are safe from danger. Never leave candles, cigarettes or cooking meals unattended.
Where To Find Insurance Savings
Navigating the complexities of homeowners insurance on your own can be confusing and frustrating, but there is a better way. Knowledgeable, independent insurance agents in the Trusted Choice® network are always available to answer your questions, suggest coverage options that are best suited for you and even assist you in filing a claim.
Contact a Trusted Choice member agent near you to find out how you can protect your home and belongings against fire damage.