Updated: February 2016
Your house is probably the most valuable asset you have, and you have homeowners insurance to help protect you and your house in case something unfortunate, such as a fire, should happen. From electrical issues to candle mishaps, the National Fire Protection Association reports an average of 357,000 residential fires each year. Being prepared is a good idea — and that includes knowing what your insurance policy covers and how much protection it may provide.
Homeowners insurance typically provides protection for your home and belongings. Most policies include the following coverages, which may help protect your home and its contents if they are damaged by fire.
Dwelling coverage Homeowners insurance typically includes coverage for the structure of a home as well as attached structures, such as a garage. If you leave a potholder too close to the stove and it starts a kitchen fire, the cost of repairs would likely be covered. Should your home be uninhabitable during repairs or while being rebuilt, the Insurance Information Institute (III) says homeowners insurance typically provides coverage for additional costs of having to live away from your home, such as hotel costs and restaurant bills.
Detached structures. Commonly called "other structures coverage," most homeowners insurance provides coverage for structures on your property that are not attached to your home, such as sheds, detached garages and fences.
Personal property. Homeowners coverage usually extends to your personal belongings, such as appliances, furniture and clothing. Homeowners insurance typically helps protect personal belongings, from specific risks (described in most policies as "perils"), such as fire and lightning strikes. If your belongings are damaged or destroyed in a fire, homeowners insurance may help cover the loss.
Additionally, a standard homeowners policy likely offers some coverage for landscaping as well, states the III. If a fire on your property destroys a tree or shrubs, you may be reimbursed for some or all of their value.
There is no one-size-fits-all formula when it comes to choosing your limits, which is the maximum your policy will reimburse you after a covered loss. You can set your coverage limits based on factors such as the value of your home and belongings.
Personal property. If you think you may need more coverage to replace your belongings in the event that they are damaged by fire, you may want to increase your limits for personal property. Keep in mind that your policy may offer lower coverage limits for certain items, such as jewelry. You may want to consider purchasing additional coverage to help protect those items.
Dwelling coverage. The cost of rebuilding after a fire may not be equal to the price you paid for your home, as construction costs and home values fluctuate. It's important to consider what it may cost to rebuild or repair your home at current rates, the III says.
Having smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in your home are certainly a smart way to help protect yourself from fire. Homeowners insurance can also be a great way to help protect your home and belongings should a fire should strike.