Filed Under:Risk Management, Loss Control

Are you covered for fireworks damage?

Are you covered? (Photo: Shutterstock)
Are you covered? (Photo: Shutterstock)

Every year fireworks cause serious injuries and substantial property damage. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires annually, including 1,300 structure fires, 300 vehicle fires, and 16,900 outside and other fires. These fires cause an average of three deaths, 40 civilian injuries, and $43 million in direct property damage.

Homeowners' insurance

Standard homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for fires. If someone sets off fireworks that hit your home, you would be covered. Coverage amounts will vary, depending on the policy. Also check for exclusions in the coverage — for example, are sheds or outbuildings covered, or damage to landscaping? 

Fireworks that malfunction and injure a person on your property (other than household members) could be covered under a section for medical payments to others. Coverage limits for no-fault medical expenses are usually fairly low. Depending on the policy, those limits range from $1,000 to $5,000 worth of coverage. This coverage typically kicks in if your injured neighbor or friend doesn't have health insurance and seeks to recover the medical costs from you.

Lawsuits that are filed against you for fireworks-related issues are also covered under the liability section of your homeowner’s policy, whether the issues are with medical treatment, property damage, or both. Generally, most homeowners’ insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available. Increasingly, agents and brokers recommended that homeowners consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of coverage of liability protection.

Related: 6 simple ways to make your home safer

Umbrella or excess liability

You should buy enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If you own property or have investments and savings that are worth more than the liability limits in your policy, you may consider purchasing an excess liability or umbrella policy.

Umbrella or excess liability policies provide extra coverage. They start to pay after you have used up the liability insurance in your underlying home (or auto) policy. An umbrella policy is not part of your homeowners’ policy. You have to purchase it separately. In addition to providing a higher dollar amount, they offer broader coverage.

There is no coverage for fireworks that injure someone who lives in the home.  Coverage for family members is available under a separate health insurance policy.

 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Business operations in a home

Homeowners’ policies won’t cover business activity with fireworks, such as storing or selling them. If you are engaging in that business, you’ll need to consider a separate business owner’s policy. Check with your insurer on the coverage that’s right for this type of business.

Vehicles

Fire or damage to a vehicle caused by fireworks is covered under comprehensive insurance, an optional auto insurance coverage.

Related: 4th of July: Most dangerous summer holiday for drivers [infographic]

Keep in mind, if fireworks are illegal in the area where you are using them, some insurance policies may not cover you.  Some policies exclude damage resulting from illegal acts, so check with your insurer.

Fireworks safety tips

If you plan on using fireworks, here are a few safety tips from the American Pyrotechnics Association, National Council on Fireworks Safety, and the NFPA:

  • Obey the law. Don’t use fireworks that are illegal in your state.
  • Keep your pets away from fireworks. Pets have sensitive hearing and the noise can hurt them.
  • Keep fireworks away from children. Every year children lose fingers in fireworks accidents, and even sparklers burn at up to 2,000 degrees, making them extremely dangerous for children.
  • Be sure other adults and children are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never throw or point fireworks at others.
  • Use fireworks outdoors only.
  • Avoid lighting fireworks on grass or in containers.
  • Have water close by. Have a fire extinguisher, hose, or bucket of water handy for emergencies. Drop used fireworks into a bucket of water.
  • Look out for tree limbs that could catch fire. Trim vegetation to keep it away from your home.
  • Clean gutters that have accumulated leaves, pine needles and other flammable material.
  • If you won’t be home on the holiday, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on your house if others in your neighborhood will be using fireworks. 

Make sure to have the right amount and type of insurance for your home and auto to safeguard your finances.

Loretta Worters is vice president, media relations for the Insurance Information Institute. She can be reached at lorettaw@iii.org.

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