Fireworks cause $59 million of property damage a year. Your insurance policy may cover it

According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks caused $59 million in direct property damage in 2021.Property damage and liability claims are paid by homeowners and renters insurance. There are, however, exceptions to coverage. Exclusions in a policy, for example, may bar claims for unauthorized fireworks. Fireworks-related damage may or may not be covered by your renters or homeowners insurance policy.

“The very short answer is: Usually there’s coverage,” said Peter Kochenburger, executive director of the University of Connecticut’s insurance law program and deputy director of the university’s Insurance Law Center.

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“It does depend on a number of details,” he continued.

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What homeowners and renters insurance policies are likely to cover

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A basic homes insurance policy covers two categories.

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One is for property: your house and its contents. The second is for liability; this protects you if you are held accountable for the injury or property damage of another person, such as a friend or neighbor who is injured by a stray firework. The latter coverage is normally accessible wherever in the United States where your responsibility exists.

A renters policy is similar, but it only covers the contents of the residence, not the actual building. According to the most current National Fire Protection Association figures, fireworks caused $59 million in direct property damage in 2021.According to Robert Passmore, vice president of personal lines at the American Property Casualty Insurance Association, fireworks-related damage would most likely occur from a fire ignited by the pyrotechnics.

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According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks will cause 12,264 documented fires in the United States in 2021. On July 4, 28% of fires recorded in 2014-18 were reported. Fire damage to the house, patio furniture, or other property is normally covered by homeowners policy, according to Passmore. Deductibles are common in policies; policyholders are frequently responsible for the first $500 to $1,000 of damage.

This is true whether the policyholder or someone else, like as a neighbor or friend, fires the pyrotechnics, according to Passmore.

“It happens every year, and people need to be aware that it can cause a lot of problems, particularly if they live in a wildfire-prone area,” Passmore said of fireworks-related fires. He said that policies may also cover other types of damage, such as a shattered glass caused by an errant missile.

Fireworks-related injuries have also “increased significantly” in the last 15 years, with 10,200 recorded in 2022, according to the NFPA. According to experts, liability insurance may protect a policyholder if they are legally culpable for such an incident.

Illegal fireworks may be excluded from coverage.

  • There are, however, exceptions, as is typically the case with insurance coverage.
  • Exclusions are common in insurance plans. The fine print specifies situations in which the insurer will not pay a claim.
  • Exclusions are being used increasingly often by insurers, and the details vary per policy, according to Kochenburger.
  • According to experts, an insurance would most likely not cover deliberate action, such as damage caused by purposely launching a bottle rocket at someone’s property.

Experts say that in rare cases, a policy may specifically prohibit coverage for pyrotechnics.

A more likely scenario: Your coverage may not cover “wrongful or criminal acts,” which means the insurance would not pay a claim for damage or injury caused by illegal pyrotechnics, according to Kochenburger. Coverage in a fireworks-related scenario will be determined by the circumstances, kind of pyrotechnics used, how they were utilized, and how state courts have interpreted policy exclusions, he noted. According to Kochenburger, the exclusion also applies more frequently to liability claims and less frequently to personal property claims.

However, by utilizing authorized fireworks, you may eliminate the risk and confusion.

“You don’t want to get tripped up by exclusions for wrongful or criminal acts,” Kochenburger explained. “Make certain that the fireworks you’re buying are legal in your state.”

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