Are Accidental Fires Covered Under my Home Insurance?

Caeva O'Callaghan | May 29th, 2020

Does home insurance typically cover accidental fires?

As long as the fire wasn’t set on purpose, your house insurance policy should pay to repair or replace any belongings damaged by flames or smoke.

Accidental fires are covered under a standard home insurance policy. This applies to almost any situation. Chip pan fires, sparks from a wood stove, unattended candles, overloading electrics – you name it.

The only type of fire that your home insurance won’t cover is if you set your own property on fire on purpose. Arson is never a good idea, for many reasons.

In this article, we’ll cover questions like:

  • My house is on fire – will my insurance cover it?
  • Does home insurance cover arson?
  • My child caused a fire by accident, will my home insurance cover it?

Fire is a common risk, and is insurable. As always, check your policy carefully – or get your broker to do it – to be sure.

What counts as a fire

Not all smoke means there’s fire. At least, in the insurance world, that is. And your insurance policy may not cover all fires. It’s worth noting here that many insurers require the presence of flames to qualify as a “fire”. If you left hair straighteners on the floor and singed your carpet, your insurance provider would consider this accidental damage. This is because there was no flames present.

Similarly, if you left a pan to smoulder on the stove for a while, there may have been no actual fire. But your backsplash, utensils, and appliances could all suffer heavy smoke damage.

Smoke damage can be insidious, but it is a covered peril separate to fire. It can easily ruin belongings, appliances, and you may also need to redecorate entire rooms. In very bad cases, you may even need to replaster. However, if only one or two items have smoke damage, you may only be able to claim for the cost of cleaning the item. Your insurer could even argue that cleaning the item yourself is the better way to go. Unless you have a very good reason to claim, it’s always worth avoiding paying the excess.

But if you do have a fire, and it’s serious enough, be aware that the provider will likely send around a loss adjuster to inspect the damage. Always take lots of photographs as soon as you can to assist with this process.

Accidental fires

All kinds of accidental fires are covered by your home insurance. Buildings and contents policies both cover fire damage as standard, so there’s no need to buy additional cover. Your home’s structure, including walls, ceilings, windows and roof, and your belongings, will be repaired or replaced in the event of an accidental fire.

But what counts as an accidental fire? It may not be crystal clear, but your insurer will have firm guidelines in place. For example, if you leave a chip pan unattended, this will count as an accidental fire. It may have been stupid to do so, but you didn’t mean to set fire to the house. If you leave a candle burning, sleep with your phone under your pillow, overload an extension socket or have an accident with the hair straighteners, these all count as accidents. Insurers know you’re only human.

Malicious fires

If your home is set on fire by someone else in a malicious act, this could be covered by your home insurance. It all depends on how suspicious it looks.

For example, if someone you didn’t know was trying to harm you, your home insurance would cover it. But, if your home was set on fire by someone who knew you, and who would benefit somehow from you getting the insurance money… your claim probably wouldn’t be successful.

This is the reason why most home insurance providers cover children’s fires, even if they cause them deliberately. Nearly all insurance companies will pay out for fire damage caused by arson when the homeowner or policy owner did not start the fire. They may also want to be sure the arsonist is not related to, or working in the interest of, the policy owner to prevent insurance fraud. However, it’s unlikely that if a child starts a fire, that would be a crime in the legal sense.

Setting your home on fire, paying someone else to do it, or getting a friend to do it is insurance fraud, it’s illegal and it is a crime. Arson is clearly detectable and modern techniques mean it’s easier than ever to find out who did it, and how. If the Gardai suspect any illegal activity, the homeowner will not get a cheque from the insurance company and potentially a criminal conviction.

If you are unsure about Accidental Fire cover, call us anytime to discuss.

If you have any questions on what exactly accidental fire cover includes and does not include, we are always here to help answer your queries. Pick up the phone anytime and talk to our team of house insurance experts. We have heard all eventualities when it comes to home insurance and our team will guide you through all the possibilities and options. You can contact us between 8.30am and 5.30pm Mon-Fri on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.

Remember, if your policy is up for renewal and you need a house insurance quote, we compare home insurance in Ireland from the leading providers to help find you the right cover for your needs.