Does Renters Insurance Cover Fire?

Q&A Renters: Does Renters Insurance Cover Fire Damage?

(Don't get burned on your insurance coverage.)

Table of Contents

Does renters insurance cover fire damage to personal property?
Does renters insurance provide liability coverage for fire damage?
Are there scenarios where fire damage isn't covered by renters insurance?
Does renters insurance cover anything else in relation to fire damage?

Does renters insurance cover fire damage to personal property?

I'm a new renter and I'm curious whether I'm covered if there's a fire. A lot of what I've heard about renters insurance is that there's personal property coverage and then separate coverage for certain liabilities. 

Are there different rules about fire damage coverage under these separate coverage areas? I want to know if I'm covered or if I need additional coverage in case something happens.

This is a great question, especially because fire is one of the most common named perils under renters insurance policies. Or, if your policy doesn't name covered perils, you probably have an "all-risk" policy, which would mean you're also covered if there's fire damage.

From a personal property perspective, renters insurance covers anything that was damaged or destroyed because of the fire up to the policy limit. If you have a $25,000 policy limit and a $250 deductible, your insurer will pay you up to $24,750 to repair or replace your personal property. 

There is often a per item limit on coverage that will differ depending on your policy. Keep in mind that a fire doesn't have to come from inside your home to be covered, and the item doesn't have to be inside your home to be covered, either. If the property is outside your home, you'll have less coverage, but you'll still get something.

Note that you'll still be covered under renters insurance for fire caused by something that isn't a named peril. One example is if there's a flood that somehow causes a fire. 

While floods aren't a covered peril, a fire that results from a flood would be covered. These are important distinctions, because understanding when you're covered (or aren't) is vital for when you should and shouldn't go through the process of making a claim.

If you want to learn more about how personal property coverage works for fire damage, talk to an independent insurance agent.

Does renters insurance provide liability coverage for fire damage?

The other half of renters insurance is liability coverage, which also applies when there's fire damage. Let's say you accidentally burn someone or their belongings. Maybe you left a candle lit in your apartment and started a small fire. 

If your insurer finds that you're responsible for the resulting damage, your renters insurance will pay for your liability. This could include medical bills and legal costs, if there's a lawsuit, up to your liability limit.

Most renters insurance policies have a liability limit of $100,000. You can always pay for higher limits if you think you need the coverage. If you aren't sure, talk to an independent insurance agent to evaluate all of your options.

Are there scenarios where fire damage isn't covered by renters insurance?

Yes, there are exclusions where fire damage isn't covered by your renters insurance. The primary exclusion  is where you intentionally started the fire. No intentional loss is covered by renters insurance, fires included. 

Another common exclusion is where the fire damage is to your unit. By this, I mean walls, structure, or installations. These are losses your landlord will be responsible for under their landlord insurance. 

If for some reason your landlord's insurer comes after you for damages, your renters insurance company should assist you in handling the situation.

One additional note is that fire damage to your car isn't covered, but personal property in the car could be. Because the personal property isn't in your home, the coverage limit would be lower. 

However, it's important to note the distinction between covered losses to the car itself in contrast to your property inside the car.

Does renters insurance cover anything else in relation to fire damage?

Yes, it does. There are two common issues covered that are both related to fire damage:

  • Loss of use coverage: If the fire damage to your unit is extensive and you have to find temporary housing, renters insurance will cover the cost of a hotel or even commuting to work.
  • Smoke damage: Smoke damage is a separate covered peril but is related to fire damage. Let's say there's smoke damage to your personal property or you're responsible for smoke damage: Your renters insurance will kick in for this, too.

If there are other related losses you're concerned about, speak with an independent insurance agent to talk about policies and covered perils in more detail.

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TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Paul Martin

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