Ask NJM

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Fire Damage?

A homeowners insurance policy typically covers fire damage to your home, personal property, and other structures on your property.

A homeowners policy can also provide these fire-related coverages:

  • Debris removal
  • Demolition, if necessary
  • Additional living expenses (such as lodging, meals, and laundry) if your home becomes uninhabitable

You'll need to report your bills and provide receipts to receive reimbursement.

Here's how it works:

A house fire could damage or destroy your personal belongings. The amount of reimbursement you receive from your insurance company depends on the type of coverage provided by your policy — Actual Cash Value or Replacement Cost.

Your sofa is damaged beyond repair in a fire.

Actual Cash Value covers the estimated resale value if you sold an item just before it was damaged.

Cost to Replace: +$1,000
- Depreciation
Your sofa's life expectancy is 10 years. It's 2 years old.
-$200
- Deductible
This is the amount you pay out of pocket.
-$500
Your insurer will issue a claims check for: =$300

Replacement Cost would reimburse you for the full value of your property, without regard for depreciation.

Cost to Replace: +$1,000
- Deductible
This is the amount you pay out of pocket.
-$500
Your insurer will issue a claims check for: =$500

You would only pay your deductible once for all damages resulting from the fire.

Some items, like money, stamps, and electronics, have lower limits, which are defined in your policy. Additionally, your insurance company will only issue a claims check in an amount up to your policy limits.

Are your possessions archived?

Fire and smoke can destroy everything you own. You'll have greater success with your claim if you have a complete inventory of the items you lost.

  • Take photos and video of your entire house, other structures, and property.
  • Include specific images of your most valuable possessions.
  • Scan or take photos of receipts for unique or valuable items.
  • Use cloud storage or save the files to a drive off-site.

Can a fire damage claim be denied?

Yes, certain circumstances may result in your fire damage claim being denied. If your dwelling has been vacant for more than 60 consecutive days immediately before the loss, it's likely your insurer will deny the claim. Also, your insurance company could deny your claim if it determines that you or a resident of your home intentionally set the fire.

Location can also play a role in whether fire damage is covered. Review your homeowners policy closely if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Wildfires cause significant losses, and insurance companies often adjust their policies in areas most at risk. When renewing your policy, review the fire coverage section closely to stay informed of any changes. If your policy no longer covers wildfire damage, you may need to purchase an endorsement to remain protected.

The content on this page is intended for informational purposes only. It is not an insurance policy, and does not, in any way, replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance policies. Terms and coverage availability may vary by state, and exclusions and deductibles may apply. Discounts also vary by state and may not be applied to all policy coverages. Coverage for an accident or loss is subject to the terms and conditions of the insurance policy applicable to a particular claim.