You may have purchased a new West Virginia home and are now wondering about the various ways in which to protect your property and valuables. Whether you have chosen Charleston, Huntington or one of West Virginia's beautiful rural communities to call home, fires pose a risk to your property. Searching for fire insurance quotes doesn't have to be confusing. Before you settle on a policy, there are a few things to keep in mind.
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Why Is Fire Insurance Necessary?
If you are wondering why fire insurance coverage is so important, look no further than recent statistics on the frequency of home fires and the extent of the damage they have inflicted.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, more than 360,000 residential fires occurred in 2010. These home fires accounted for $6.6 billion in damage:
- 166,000 were cooking-related.
- 46,000 were fireplace-related.
- 26,000 were the result of electrical malfunctions.
If you live in an older home that hasn't had its electrical wiring updated, a fire insurance policy is a good idea. Homes with fireplaces and those near the Cabwaylingo State Forest, Calvin Price or any of the other majestic forests dotting West Virginia, protecting your property from an out-of-control forest fire is a must.
Not only do these types of fires destroy homes and most of their contents, but garage fires also destroy thousands of vehicles each year. Without a comprehensive vehicle policy that covers fires, these motorists would be unable to replace their cars or trucks. If you want maximum protection for your vehicle, purchasing fire and theft coverage as part of a comprehensive auto insurance policy is a smart move.
What Is Fire Insurance?
Fire insurance covers damage to property caused by fire. Fire insurance is a specialized form of insurance beyond property insurance that covers the cost of replacement, reconstruction or repair beyond the coverage provided by the property insurance policy. Policies cover damage to the building itself and may also cover damage to nearby structures, personal property and expenses associated with not being able to live in or use damaged property. Most homeowners and automobile insurance policies do carry protection for fire damage.
What Does Fire Insurance Cover?
Fire insurance can cover added expenses such as extended hotel stays in the event your West Virginia home becomes uninhabitable due to a fire. Some policies will even cover the additional living expense of having to eat at restaurants while you rebuild your home. While a homeowners policy may cover the cost to replace your property, fire insurance also helps defray the expense of cleaning up ash and soot from a fire.
Are wildfires covered? Homeowners insurance generally provides coverage for property damage caused by a wildfire. It also covers damage caused by water and materials used by firefighters while attempting to extinguish a wildfire.
What about your pets? Your homeowners policy covers the cost of temporarily boarding domestic pets if civil authorities prohibit access to your home. You should keep copies of the receipts from the boarding house for your adjuster.
Smoke Alarms Are Just a Start
Smoke alarms may not be enough. A properly functioning smoke alarm can be a great early warning tool that will alert you to a fire with enough time to get your family to safety and call the fire department. But, fire can spread rapidly, and getting a critical heads-up to the presence of smoke in your home is no guarantee that a fire won't seriously damage or totally consume your home. Don't make the mistake of thinking that having state-of-the-art smoke and carbon monoxide detectors will prevent a fire or give you enough time to put it out.
The WV Fire Marshal has great resources to help you protect yourself and your property from fire. The Public Education Division promotes programs that aim to reduce loss of life and property through education via the following services:
- Older adult fire safety
- Preschool fire program
- Colleges & universities
- Residential fire sprinklers
- NFPA’s Risk watch
- Smoke alarm objects
- Special needs/disability fire safety
- Emergency needs/disability fire safety
Completing any one of these courses will not only equip you with the knowledge necessary to protect yourself, but it may also help you save money on fire insurance policies. Homes with residential sprinkler systems generally receive a discount on their coverage.
Fire Insurance Can Save You from Financial Disaster
Your home is probably your most valuable asset. Failing to insure it against fire damage could put you in a precarious financial situation. You've worked hard all your life to have the things that you deserve. Why put all of that in jeopardy by failing to have adequate insurance coverage for fire?
Fire is a commonplace occurrence in West Virginia. This doesn't mean that a fire will strike your home. But if it does, having fire insurance to help cover your financial losses is a critical safety net that no one should do without.
What's a Typical Quote for Fire Insurance?
The many variables insurance companies use to determine the price of a fire insurance policy make it impossible to estimate what your unique coverage will cost.
Your insurance agent needs extensive information from you to quote you the best rate for your policy. To determine insurability, an agent will ask some questions:
- When did you build your home?
- How old is the plumbing and electrical?
- What type of roof does the home have?
- What’s the square footage?
- Does the home have a wood burning stove or fireplace?
- How many claims have you filed in the past 5 years?
- Where is the home located?
If the home is located in one of West Virginia's beautiful rural areas without a nearby fire department or there is no fire hydrant on the street, some companies may charge higher rates.
How Much Fire Insurance Coverage Is Enough?
Most West Virginia insurance agents use a cost estimator to determine cost replacement estimates. This will ensure that you get the correct amount of insurance. Even if you buy a home that includes a large lot, your fire insurance policy could provide insurance for much less than what you paid for the home.
In the past, insurers referred to replacement coverage as guaranteed replacement cost. There is no such coverage anymore. Today, it is replacement cost coverage, which means each insurance company designates a percentage of additional coverage on top of the insured amount. This protects the homeowner who has suffered a loss from having to pay additional construction costs to rebuild. It can cost more to rebuild because of inflation or simply because material prices have increased. For example, if you insure the dwelling for $300,000 with 125 percent replacement cost coverage, you would receive an additional $75,000.
What about fire insurance policy limits? When you purchase a homeowners or auto insurance policy with fire coverage, you should pay attention to the limits. You may want to purchase a policy with higher limits to make sure you have better protection. If the fire damage exceeds the limits of your coverage, you may be financially responsible for the difference. Budget how much out-of-pocket expense you could afford to pay in the event of a fire, and make sure your limits do not exceed that allotment. The ideal limit would not force you to dip into other savings in order to pay for repairs or added living expenses in the event of a fire.
Don't Let Your Dreams Go Up in Smoke
Are you thinking about covering your West Virginia home or vehicle against the risk of fire? Contact a knowledgeable Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent to find affordable quotes on fire insurance.