Does Home Insurance Cover Fires Caused By Cigarettes?

Fire is among the most damaging of all events to a property. The fire can spread easily, it will damage everything, and if the fire itself doesn’t destroy something, then the smoke will. Cigarettes are also among the leading causes of house fires. If a cigarette starts a fire, will your homeowners insurance cover the cost of repairing or rebuilding your house? The answer is yes, your homeowners insurance is likely to cover the cost. The only requirement is that the fire must not be done on purpose – arson is often explicitly excluded on insurance policies, whether it’s caused by a guest or as a result of vandalism. So long as it was unintentional, your home insurance will cover the costs, not only of repairing your home, but also replacing your possessions.

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Fires Tend to Be Covered by Home Insurance

Your insurance categorizes perils into two categories: covered and uncovered. A peril is any event that can cause damage to your property. On modern insurance, all perils will be generically covered, except for a list of explicitly named perils that will be uncovered. Fires represent the most common cause of property destruction, and as a result, it is almost always included on insurance policies as a covered peril. The only exception is arson, which is always explicitly named as an uncovered peril. This includes arson done as an act of vandalism, even though vandalism is almost always included as a covered peril. Oftentimes, you may have to prove in a claim that the fire was unintentional.

It’s Not Just Fire, but Smoke Which Also Damages Your House

It’s tempting to think that the actual fire itself is the most damaging part of a fire, and granted if your entire house is consumed by a fire, this might be warranted. But more often than not, it is not fire which causes the most damage, but smoke from the fire. This is because it does not take a lot of fire to create a lot of smoke, and because the smoke spreads through the air, it manages to infiltrate everything. Not only does it imbue everything with a smoky smell, but the smoke itself is actually corrosive to most things inside your house, including your flooring, your windows, pipes, and perhaps most crucially, wires. Smoke is acidic, and so everything the smoke coats becomes weakened, which causes problems down the line, especially when smoke manages to infiltrate wiring, which causes further fire risks.

You Can Also Expect Your Possessions to Be Covered by Your Insurance

The part of your insurance that covers your personal possessions is known as personal property protection. The coverage for your personal property often differs from the coverage for your dwelling, and this difference varies depending on which type of insurance policy you have. The two most common homeowners insurance policies are known as HO-3 and HO-5. They are both largely the same, except an HO-5 provides more coverage for your possessions, both in the number of perils they protect, as well as the amount of money they will cover.

With an HO-3, instead of having all perils covered minus the list of excluded perils, there is a list of covered perils, and all other perils not on the list are considered excluded. An HO-5, on the other hand, will look a lot more like the coverage for your dwelling, covering all perils except for a named few. Fires and smoke damage tend to be included in the HO-3 personal property coverage, which means that both an HO-3 and an HO-5 will cover any possessions that are damaged or destroyed by fire or smoke. An HO-5, however, will offer a deeper level of protection for your items, including compensating a higher overall amount.

The Best Way to Avoid Problems Is to Be Vigilant about Cigarettes in Your Home

To cut the risk down, it would be best to be careful with smoking indoors. You should never leave a lit cigarette unattended, and you should make sure all cigarettes are thoroughly extinguished once you are done smoking. The best way to cut down the risk is to simply not smoke inside – only smoke outside, away from your house, and always make sure to always dispose of your cigarettes in a container that will not allow any burning embers to spread.

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