One could say Virginia was born of fire. Ever since Nathaniel Bacon and his followers burned Jamestown, Virginia, in 1676 to prevent Governor Berkley from using it as a base, fires have ravaged her. Modern day residents of the Old Dominion recover from their losses by depending on fire insurance to varying degrees, however. Just as people would rather not see their home and their possessions go up in smoke, you are probably wondering if you have proper protection against fire damage. Before you search for quotes on fire insurance, however, there are a few things to consider.
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How Virginia Fires Are Fought
Here are some facts from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs:
- Fire departments in Virginia responded to an average of 2,170 incidents per day in 2012; one incident occurred every 40 seconds.
- The total fire dollar loss associated with fires in Virginia in 2012 was $274 million.
- One civilian died or suffered injuries by fire in Virginia every 18 hours in 2012.
- Cooking was the leading cause (38 percent) of all residential structure fires in 2012.
- In 2008, fires in Virginia caused more than $444 million in damage.
Is Your Home at Risk of Fire?
The National Fire Protection Agency reports that, on average, Americans face a fire in their homes about once every five years and VA residents are not immune to those risks. If you cook in your home, have electrical wiring or live near a large forest, you could face any number of fires.
Several things can trigger a fire in your home. In addition to common cooking or heating fires, a number of other fire causes, including malfunction of electrical and heating systems, negligent use of candles, cigarettes and matches, and arson can affect homeowners. An insurance policy that includes fire hazard insurance can help you restore your home and belongings after a fire.
There is no need to search for a specific fire insurance company; your current homeowners or renters insurance policy provides fire insurance coverage. However, there are many different providers and policies, and therefore a variety of coverage limits, deductibles and exclusions defining what is and is not covered. The bottom line is that you want to make sure you have enough coverage in the event of a major loss.
How Can You Protect Your Home Against Fire?
You should review your homeowners insurance policy every two to three years. It's a good idea to find out what your current policy offers in terms of fire insurance.
Most homeowners insurance policies cover structural damage and loss of personal property, or contents, up to a value of about 50 percent of the covered value of the home. If your home is worth $200,000, for example, the personal property portion will provide up to $100,000 worth of coverage for personal belongings.
How To Recover Quickly From Fire Damage
A homeowners insurance policy with the benefits of fire protection will reimburse you for damage caused by fire in one of two ways, depending on the type of coverage you choose.
The actual compensation you would receive for a covered loss also depends on the deductible you pick. You should consider the expenses you would incur if you had to replace several items in your home due to fire damage. Make sure your deductible is one you can comfortably afford to pay should the need arise to file a claim.
Most Virginia insurance companies will give you the option to choose between replacement cost and actual cash value fire insurance protection:
- Replacement cost: This option will reimburse policyholders the amount it takes to purchase an item brand new. Let's say a fire damages your 10-year-old washing machine. This coverage will pay the cost to buy a brand new washing machine.
- Actual cash value: This option takes depreciation into account. That 10-year-old washing machine? Your insurance company will reimburse you the cost to purchase a 10-year-old washing machine, not a brand new one.
What About Your Car, RV or ATV?
Fires damage not only homes and apartment buildings but also garages and the vehicles stored inside. Some homeowners policies do not cover the contents of garages. If you are like many Virginia residents who do not keep their vehicles in a garage, you should know that your homeowners policy will not cover damage resulting from fires. Only a comprehensive vehicle, RV or ATV insurance policy will protect these items from fire damage.
Does Fire Insurance Cover All Fires?
There are several reasons why an insurer may deny a fire insurance claim. Typically, the insurer will reject any claim where the homeowner or someone in the household set the fire, as determined by the insurer. Also, if the insurance company finds that the fire damage was preventable, the company may not pay the claim, whether or not the fire was set intentionally.
Your Virginia insurance company may also deny the claim for the following reasons:
- The property owner refused to call the fire department.
- The home was not equipped with smoke alarms, fire extinguishers or other fire prevention equipment.
- Gross negligence on the part of the homeowner resulted in the fire.
Be sure you have protection against fires by installing smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Never leave candles unattended, and ask smokers to smoke outside.
Does Fire Insurance Cost Extra?
The quotes you receive for fire protection as part of a homeowners or vehicle insurance policy depend on a number of factors. Typically, fire protection for homeowners does not cost anything in addition to the premium quoted by your Virginia insurance company.
A homeowners insurance policy with fire protection costs only as much as what you wish to spend on insurance.
For vehicles, quotes for a comprehensive policy with fire protection will be higher than quotes for a basic liability or collision policy.
Find the Fire Protection You Need
Knowledgeable Trusted Choice® independent insurance agents are always available to help answer your questions about fire insurance. They can suggest coverage options, find multiple quotes and even help you file a claim.
Contact an agent for help with getting protection against fires.