Many people think a fire will never happen to them, but homeowners will experience a fire once every five years on average. South Dakota ranks among the top 10 in terms of accidental fire deaths. Do your insurance policies provide sufficient protection against fire damage and loss?
Before you search for fire insurance in South Dakota, however, there are several factors to keep in mind.
South Dakota Fire Statistics
According to the National Fire Protection Agency:
- More than 370,000 residential fires occur each year in the U.S.
- These fires result in more than $7 billion in annual property losses.
- Cooking and home heating cause nearly 75%t of all residential fires.
- South Dakota’s 2006-2010 annual average fire death rate (13.9) was the 12th highest in the U.S. per capita.
What Is Fire Insurance?
Unlike damage from earthquakes and floods, fire damage is generally covered under your traditional homeowners insurance policy. Long gone are the days when homeowners needed to purchase plaques from their local fire departments to prove coverage.
The key to ensuring your insurance provides sufficient protection against fire damage, however, is to carefully review your policies and adjust coverage according to any changes that have ocurred since the original purchase.
What Are My Risks?
Understanding and mitigating your risks for fire is the first step in ensuring that your home, loved ones and belongings are safe. Although many people assume most structure fires are caused by smoking, modern statistics prove otherwise.
- The vast majority of home fires are started by cooking left unattended (more than 75%).
- This is followed by malfunctioning heating or electrical systems (another 10%t).
- Only 5% of home fires are caused by cigarettes.
Never leave anything in the stove or oven unattended. Be sure to have your home's furnace and electrical systems professionally inspected at least every two years, but ideally every year.
Is My Property Damage Coverage Enough?
The first part of your insurance review process should include a recent assessment of your home's value. Housing prices in SD have rebounded robustly during the past few years. Your home may be worth far more than it was when you purchased it. Be sure your homeowners insurance policy reflects any value fluctuations your property has experienced.
Also remember that liability-only vehicle insurance policies will not cover fire damage if your garage catches fire. You need a comprehensive car insurance policy to protect against fire damage.
Have I Chosen the Right Coverage Options?
The next part of your insurance review process should be a second look at your personal property coverage. Have you made any significant purchases since you first obtained insurance? Be sure to conduct recent inventories of all your personal property, including appliances, furniture, electronics, books, artwork and even clothing. The total value of your possessions should give you an idea of how much contents coverage you need.
Also keep in mind that if you have older appliances, you may want to adjust your coverage options. Most SD Dakota insurance providers allow you to choose from actual cash value or replacement cost contents coverage.
Actual cash value: This type of reimbursement takes depreciation into account. For example, if your 15-year-old furnace is destroyed in a fire, your insurance company will compensate you the cost it takes to purchase a 15-year-old furnace.
Replacement cost: This type of reimbursement ignores depreciation. Using the same example, you would be compensated the cost it takes to replace your old furnace with a brand new one with comparable features.
Is My Deductible Appropriate for Fire Protection?
The final important step in reviewing your insurance is to be sure the deductibles you originally chose are appropriate. Have changes occurred in your personal finances that will allow you to choose a lower deductible?
Remember that most home fires cause considerable damage. You want to be sure the deductible you choose is one that you can comfortably afford to pay should you need to file a claim. You don't want to be stuck waiting until you can afford to pay your deductible to make needed repairs following a fire. Your South Dakota insurance company will not start reimbursing you for your costs until that amount is paid.
What Will These Adjustments Cost Me?
If, during this review, you discover gaps in coverage or decide to make different coverage choices, you could see quotes for your insurance premiums that vary from what you are paying now.
You may find the additional protection of replacement cost value is worth the small increase in your premium quote from what it was when you had actual cash value coverage.
You may also find that a few tweaks to coverage options and an adjustment to your deductible will allow you to have adequate coverage to protect against fire damage with no change in our quote at all. It depends on the insurance company and the changes you make.
It's always a good idea to compare several quotes from many different insurance providers to ensure you are receiving the best rates. You may find that another provider is willing to offer you better insurance at a lower cost than you are currently paying.
Where Can I Find Affordable Fire Insurance in South Dakota?
It would be a good idea to enlist the services of a qualified insurance agent to help you through this review process. Knowledgeable, independent insurance agents on the Trusted Choice® network are always available to answer your questions, suggest coverage options, and even assist you in filing a fire damage claim.
These agents have years of experience working with South Dakota insurance companies, enabling them to find you a number of quotes with the best coverage options at the most affordable rates. Contact a Trusted Choice member agent near you to find out how you can obtain the perfect, fire insurance policy that meets your needs and budget.