Does Home Insurance Cover Fires That My Kids Set?

Caeva O'Callaghan | May 6th, 2020

Does home insurance cover for damage if my daughter set her bed on fire accidentally?

Good news – you’ll probably be covered, even if your child set the bed on fire. It all depends on if insurance fraud was a likely motivator.

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 possessions, will be repaired or replaced in the event of a fire.

In this article, we’ll cover questions like:

  • Will my home insurance cover the damage if my child started a fire?
  • What kind of fire damage is covered by home insurance?
  • How does my home insurance cover smoke damage?

Buildings insurance also covers any permanent fixtures, such as kitchen worktops or your toilet. This usually includes carpets, too.

Accidental fires vs arson

If your child set a fire, it doesn’t matter if they did it accidentally or deliberately (at least from an insurance point of view – you, as a parent, may take a somewhat different view).

If it got out of control, this is unlikely to count as arson. 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.

It all depends if you can prove someone with no interest in the insurance money started the fire. If so, your claim is likely to be successful.

However, your insurance provider may reject your claim if you knew about a potential fire risk to your property and did nothing about it. For example, if someone made threats of arson against your property and you did not report it to the police. Or, if someone who regularly occupies the house smokes or has a hobby involving fire, like decorative wood-burning, and you never disclosed it.

Fire safety measures

Your claim may also be invalid if you haven’t taken safety precautions. You need to have sufficient smoke alarms in your home. Also, you should regularly maintain any equipment or appliances that pose a fire risk.

For example, if your tumble dryer caught fire, and it turns out you never vented it properly, you won’t be able to claim. Similarly, if you left your child alone with matches with an old bed that was a fire risk, your insurance isn’t going to look on you favourably.

Have your chimneys swept every year, to prevent chimney fires. Keep guards up when small children are around open fires, and never leave incense or candles unattended. And never place a lit candle near curtains or upholstery, on low bookshelves or directly underneath a surface or objects.

Also, never leave cooking unattended. Chip pan fires are still incredibly common in Ireland, and can lead to disastrous consequences. If you must use a chip pan, do so outside. Keep an eye on pans so they don’t overheat, and watch for food catching fire in your oven.

Types of fire damage

Some types of fire won’t be covered under your home insurance policy. 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 were no flames present.

Flames can spread incredibly quickly, and may affect more rooms than you initially thought. Also, if you live in a flat, fire damage can affect the properties below. After the fire is safely out, make sure you make your neighbours aware of what happened.

Smoke damage can be insidious, but home insurance will cover it. Smoke easily ruins belongings and appliances. You may also need to redecorate entire rooms – and in some cases, even replaster – to get rid of the carbon. Factor all of these costs into your insurance claim.

And if the fire is serious enough, be aware that the provider will likely send around a loss adjuster to inspect the damage.

If you have any questions on what your home insurance covers for fires, call us today!

If you are unsure of what your home insurance covers regarding fire damage, feel free to call and talk to our home insurance agents. We have been advising our insurance customers for over 30 years and have come across every scenario you could possibly imagine. We are available for contact between 8.30am and 5.30pm each weekday on 0818 224433 or 042 9359051.

If your home insurance policy is up for renewal or you require a home insurance quote today, we compare home insurance in the Irish market from leading insurance providers to help get you the cover required for your specific circumstances.  We look forward to hearing from you.