Accidents happen all the time, whether to new renters or veteran tenants. If you accidentally leave a candle going or burn a pie, a fire could cause a large amount of damage before you can stop it. But will your renters insurance cover you if you accidentally set fire to your apartment?
In short, yes. Renters insurance is designed to cover your personal belongings from loss or damage due to fire, lightning, smoke, theft, vandalism and more. So, if a fire breaks out in your apartment, your personal belongings should be covered. There are some exceptions, however.
What Happens to Your Apartment after a Fire?
Contrary to popular belief, your renters insurance doesn’t actually cover the physical unit. If a fire damages your cabinets, walls and countertops, your renters insurance will not cover it. Instead, it is your landlord who is responsible for insuring the physical unit and apartment complex with a commercial property policy.
This doesn’t mean you are in the clear, however. If you are responsible for the fire, even through negligence, your landlord can turn to you seeking compensation for their losses. In this case, you may be able to file a claim with your renters insurance for liability. Liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage you may cause to someone else. If your fire damages the landlord’s property or hurts someone else, renters insurance can help pay for repairs and legal fees in case a lawsuit follows.
What is Not Covered by Renters Insurance?
Some of your belongings are commonly excluded from renters insurance. Expensive items such as jewelry, furs and art often have limited coverage under renters insurance. You can make up for this by purchasing additional policy floaters. You may also not have coverage for items you did not insure on your policy. For example, if you purchased a new, expensive television and did not notify your insurance provider, your coverage will not have been adjusted for this new expense. This means your new television may not be covered under your renters insurance policy.
Renters insurance will also not cover intentional damage, such as if you or a family member set fire to belongings in the apartment on purpose. The only exclusion to this is if a young child causes a fire in your home, you may still be covered. This is because children under a certain age are seen as unable to understand their actions and the consequences.
What Does Liability Insurance Cover in Case of a Fire?
While your personal belongings coverage will provide compensation for your items in case of a fire, liability insurance can cover injuries and property damage the fire may cause to someone else. If the fire spreads to your neighbors, for example, liability insurance under your renters insurance policy can help provide compensation for their damaged properties and injuries caused by the fire. This includes medical bills and legal expenses such as court fees, defense costs and settlement expenses.
Is Arson Covered by Renters Insurance?
Say that you believe someone set fire to your apartment on purpose. Are you covered?
While this is a scary thing to consider, you will likely be covered in this type of event. Personal belongings coverage includes fire and vandalism. Intentional damage by someone else should be covered under your renters insurance policy.
Be sure to check the limits on your coverage. Some insurers have limitations and exclusions on their renters insurance policies.
Who Pays for Damages in an Electrical Fire?
In some cases, a fire in your apartment may not be anyone’s direct fault. Electrical fires happen frequently and cause thousands of dollars in damage every year. You generally cannot be held liable for faulty wiring in your apartment, especially if your apartment has its own maintenance service.
In case of an electric fire, your renters insurance should still cover your belongings. However, you may be able to seek compensation from your landlord or their maintenance service for additional damages that are not covered under your renters insurance policy.
Avoiding Fires in Your Apartment
Overall, it is important to avoid fires as much as possible in your apartment. While having a renters insurance policy is useful, it is always better to prevent the need for a claim. Be sure to extinguish candles before you leave and turn off stovetops and ovens as soon as they are no longer in use. At the first sign of gas, exit your apartment and notify someone. Also consider having a fire extinguisher in your apartment to quickly extinguish fires that may start.
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