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Fire and home insurance

Fire is one of the biggest home insurance risks so make sure you have the right cover, whether you’re a homeowner, tenant or landlord.

Alice Morgan
Alice Morgan
Updated 25 May 2021  | 3 min read

What is fire insurance?

Fire insurance is a part of most house insurance policies. It covers damages and losses to your home caused by fire or smoke.

If you need to claim, your home insurance provider will pay to cover the cost of repairing, rebuilding or replacing any part of your home’s structure. If you have contents insurance, your belongings will be covered too.

Key points

  • Fire prevention measures can help you keep your home safe, and lower your insurance premiums
  • Think about how you would fetch document details and emergency numbers if there was a fire
  • Call your insurer as soon as practically possible after a blaze

What isn’t covered?

Although fires are usually covered by home insurance, be careful you don’t do anything that would invalidate a claim.

Unoccupied properties

You might not be covered if you’re away from home for more than 30 days a year, unless you have unoccupied home insurance.

That’s because unoccupied properties are more vulnerable to break-ins and arson.

Even if you’re redecorating or renovating and visiting your home every day, if you’re not sleeping in it your insurer might still class it as unoccupied.

Fire alarms

You’ll be asked about fire alarms when you take out home insurance.

If you say you have them, make sure they’re working and tested regularly. If they’re not, that could affect a claim you make for fire damage.

Work and renovations

You must tell your insurer if you’re having major work or renovations done.

Home improvements could increase the rebuild cost of your home, and things like adding bedrooms are a sign of higher occupancy which can make the fire risk greater.

There’s also the fire risk associated with the work itself, especially if it’s structural or electrical.

Your insurer will want to know about any work so it can assess your risk and price accordingly. If you fail to tell it, it could decide your claim’s invalid.

Smokers

Being a smoker won’t invalidate your home insurance, but if you lie about you or anyone you live with smoking, your insurer could refuse a claim that started with a lit cigarette.

According to government statistics, smokers’ materials - things like lighters, cigarettes, cigars or tobacco - were the cause of 20% of fire-related fatalities in 2017/18. Your insurer will want to take this additional risk into account when pricing your policy.

Accidental damage

More minor incidents like burning something with an iron or your hair straighteners are likely to be classified by your insurer as accidental damage.

Accidental damage cover can usually be added as an optional extra to your home insurance at additional cost.

How to make a claim for fire damage

To make a claim on your home insurance, first call your insurer as soon as you practically can.

If you have separate contents and buildings cover, you’ll need to contact both providers to claim for the damage to your home and the loss of your personal possessions.

Your insurer will arrange alternative accommodation for you if your home is uninhabitable after a fire.

It’ll send a loss adjuster to your home to assess how severe the damage is and what repairs need to be done.

Your insurer will also try to work out how the fire began.

If your home has been completely gutted by a fire, it might arrange for a forensic expert to attend the scene to find out what caused it.

If the fire is found to be accidental, it’ll be straightforward for your provider to arrange repairs to your home and cover the cost.

However, if the fire is thought to have been started deliberately, or by serious negligence, your claim could be more complex and could take longer to process.

The loss adjuster will tell your insurer how much this will cost and how long it’ll take.

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