Home insurance and 4th of July fireworks
Home insurance might cover your July 4th fireworks accidents, but focusing on safety could prevent them instead. Learn what kind of fireworks-related mishaps homeowners insurance could cover and how to stay safe.
The Fourth of July is typically the busiest day of the year for fires. The National Fire Protection Association says two of every five structure fires are blamed on fireworks and cause about $105 million in direct property damage.
An average of 19,500 fires annually are blamed on fireworks. Hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 9,100 people for fireworks related injuries; half of those injuries were to the extremities and 34 percent were to the head or eye. Children younger than 15 years of age accounted for more than one-third (36%) of the estimated 2018 injuries, according to the NFPA.
Will your home insurance cover fireworks injuries and damage?
It's both a simple question and a complicated one. Most home insurance policies provide many different types of protection, and these protections often have different payment limits. Also, there are different types of accidents. The answer, mostly, is yes.
That is, unless fireworks are illegal where you live, and unless you purposely caused injury or damage. Then you may be on your own.
Whether home insurance covers your fireworks-related damage depends on your policy. Different accidents, different coverages. If fireworks set fire to leaves in your gutter, a section of your home insurance policy for fire incidents could cover the damage. Fireworks that malfunction and injure a friend on your property could be covered under a section for medical payments to others. Likewise, a section on liability payments could cover your fireworks accidentally shooting into your neighbor’s house and breaking a window.
But if you get into a bottle-rocket war and injure a friend, you may not be covered because the incident was intentional.
If you injure yourself, you won’t be covered under your home insurance because you can't file a liability claim against your own policy. Your health insurance would have to kick in.
If you're shooting off illegal fireworks and set fire to your house, you may not be covered. Most policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts. (See what the laws are in your state in this American Pyrotechnics Association guide.)
How much will it cost you in the long run to file a claim? Here are the average increases for multiple types of claims.
As you can see, the more claims you file, the more you'll pay for home insurance. These are all national averages. Your specific region may pay higher or lower rates depending on the claims in your region.
Another way to protect yourself is to buy an umbrella policy. A personal umbrella liability policy protects you after you reach the limits of your standard policy. It may also protect you in areas not covered on your other policies.
Each homeowners insurance policy is different, so if you have a question, ask your insurance company to point out and explain the sections of your policy that describe your coverage.
How to practice fireworks safety
Practice safety. Even if you understand your home insurance policy and are sure you’re covered, the best way to avoid problems is to focus on safety by using proper pyrotechnic practices. Every year, thousands of people are injured by fireworks, and some are even killed.
Imagine how you would feel if you burned down a neighbor’s house or seriously injured someone while trying to celebrate. Insurance questions would probably be the last thing on your mind. Even if your insurance did cover the accident, the consequences could continue for the rest of your life.
Basic safety tips, from the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Fireworks Safety and the Insurance Information Institute:
· Don't use fireworks if illegal where you live. There's probably a good reason for it.
· Keep fireworks away from children; they lose fingers, toes and eyes to fireworks accidents, and many are burned by even something as tame-seeming as sparkler -- which burns at up to 2,000 degrees.
· Never point fireworks at others.
· Use fireworks outdoors on a flat, hard surface in an open area. Keep kids at least 30 feet away.
· Use a flat, hard surface like a driveway. Avoid lighting fireworks on grass or in containers.
· Wear eye protection.
· Have a way to put out a fire handy -- a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water. Put used fireworks into a bucket of water.
· Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a "designated shooter."
Your best bet to avoid fireworks-related injuries and damage is to leave it to the professions. Rather than buying a box of bottle rockets, maybe you should attend a local fireworks display instead. Especially this year when it has been so hot and dry. Fire danger is at an all time high.
We’re here to help. We are happy to review your current coverages and discuss any potential risk areas that you may have. Contact us via email, phone at 888.498.8726 or visit our website. And if your wedding is coming soon, congratulations from all of us at Insurance by the Woods.