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Fire and home insurance

How to insure your home against fire damage

David McDermottroe
Written by  David McDermottroe
5 min read
Updated: 15 Feb 2024

Buildings insurance and contents insurance offer vital protection if there’s a fire at your home

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When it comes to protecting your home, one of the most devastating events you could face is a fire. It's not just about the immediate damage; the aftermath can be a long and stressful process of claims, repairs, and sometimes even rebuilding. That's why having the right home insurance policy in place is crucial. But what exactly does home fire insurance cover, and how can you ensure your home is adequately protected? 

Detached house

What is Home fire insurance? 

Most buildings insurance and contents insurance policies, which can be taken out separately or as part of a combined insurance policy, cover fire damage as standard. In the UK, this cover is sometimes known as household fire insurance or home fire insurance. Buildings insurance safeguards the structure of your home and permanent fixtures like bathrooms, while contents insurance protects portable items such as furniture, clothes, and usually carpets. 

Is fire insurance included in home insurance? 

Fire damage is generally included in home insurance policies, so there's usually no need for additional protection if you have both buildings and contents insurance. However, it's important to be aware of the policy details and exclusions. 

But there are a number of common exclusions to bear in mind. You may also find you have to pay more to get home insurance after a fire, as insurers often charge homeowners with previous claims higher premiums. 

What isn’t covered? 

There are certain scenarios where you might find yourself unable to claim for fire damage. For instance: 

  • You might not be able to make a claim for fire damage if the fire happens while your home is unoccupied for longer than the maximum time stated in the policy (usually between 30 and 60 days). If you’re going away for longer than that, you’ll need unoccupied property home insurance to cover the cost of damage caused by a fire. 

  • The damage was caused by a hot item rather than an actual fire, in which case you will usually only be covered if you have paid to add accidental damage cover to your home insurance policy. 

  • Claims related to negligence, such as failing to maintain smoke alarms or not informing your insurer about renovations that could increase the risk of fire, may also be denied. 

Specific exclusions also include situations such as: 

  • If you told your insurer you didn’t smoke but it is proved that your cigarette started the fire. 

  • If you failed to keep any smoke alarms mentioned in your policy in good working order. 

  • If you didn’t tell your insurer about renovation work done that increased the risk of a blaze. 

What should I do if there’s been a fire at my home? 

If you experience a fire, it's essential to contact your home insurance provider as soon as possible. Buildings insurance will cover the cost of repairs or rebuilding, and contents insurance will help you replace your personal belongings. 

The process of claiming can be lengthy, but the sooner you inform your insurer, the quicker you can begin to repair the damage. Insurers typically provide alternative accommodation if your home is uninhabitable and will send a loss adjuster to assess the damage. If you disagree with the loss adjuster's assessment, you have the right to hire your own loss assessor. 

During the claims process: 

  • The insurance provider will usually arrange for the property to be secured after a fire. 

  • The insurance provider covers the cost of alternative accommodation for you and the other occupants if the home is uninhabitable. 

  • A loss adjuster will visit your home to assess the damage and establish the size of the claim, including recommendations for repair. 

  • If you’re unhappy with the loss adjuster’s findings, you can appoint your own loss assessor to negotiate the settlement and deal with any disputes. 

What is classified as a fire? 

Insurers usually define a fire as an event that involves actual flames. Damage from heat or smoke without flames is not typically covered unless you have accidental damage cover. It's important to understand how your insurer defines a fire, as this can vary between policies. 

How do I make sure my home is covered? 

To ensure you're covered in case of a fire, it's vital to have adequate buildings and contents insurance. Make sure the rebuild value on your buildings insurance is enough to cover the total rebuilding costs. Likewise, don't underestimate the value of your possessions for contents insurance. It's wise to list items and their replacement costs accurately. 

Fire safety tips 

Preventing fires is just as important as having the right insurance. Here are some fire safety tips to keep in mind: 

  • Always extinguish candles before leaving a room. 

  • Install and regularly check smoke alarms. 

  • Keep cooking surfaces clean to prevent grease buildup. 

  • Have open fires swept at least once a year. 

  • Completely extinguish cigarettes. 

  • Store matches and lighters safely away from children. 

If you have an open fire, make sure it’s swept at least once a year (or twice if you burn wood). Keep matches and lighters in a safe place out of the reach of young children. 

Compare home insurance 

You can protect your home against fire damage by taking out buildings insurance and contents insurance with MoneySuperMarket’s home insurance comparison service. By providing details about yourself and your home, you can search for suitable insurance options that will give you peace of mind. 

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In conclusion, understanding the ins and outs of home fire insurance is key to ensuring your home and possessions are protected in the event of a fire. By familiarising yourself with what is and isn't covered, taking steps to prevent fires, and using comparison services to find the best insurance for your needs, you can rest easier knowing you're prepared for the unexpected. Remember, it's not just about having insurance; it's about having the right insurance for your unique situation. 

 

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