Don't Let 4th of July Fireworks Blow Up Your Homeowners Insurance
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Standard homeowners insurance may cover fireworks but it will depend on your insurer and whether fireworks are legally permitted in your area. The 4th of July calls for backyard barbeques, quality time with friends and family — and the occasional fireworks accident.
Keep reading to discover if your insurance covers fireworks damage and injuries when the odd firecracker goes astray.
Consumer Firework Statistics
Consumer fireworks sales have increased in recent years, with sales exploding to $2.2 billion 2021 according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. Naturally, this increases the likelihood of property damages and injuries occurring on the 4th of July.
Number of Fires Caused by Fireworks
Fireworks caused $105 million in direct property damage according to the most recent report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), with the most fires sparking either outdoors (80%) or to building structures (17%).
Number of Injuries Caused by Fireworks
U.S. hospitals treated an estimated 10,200 injuries caused by fireworks in 2022 according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Most injuries occurred on the hand or finger (29%) or the head, face or ear (19%).
Most fireworks-related injuries occurred among adults ages 25 to 44 in 2022 (2,700), followed by teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 24 (1,800). Always remember to have a responsible adult supervising fireworks activity when young children are around.
Fireworks That Cause the Most Injuries
According to the CPSC, most injuries were caused by firecrackers (18%) and non-firecracker/rocket devices such as Roman candles and sparklers (20%). Be sure to read the cautionary labels and practice firework safety tips (more on this below) to avoid injuries.
Does Home Insurance Cover Fireworks Damage To My Own Home?
A standard homeowners insurance policy may cover fires and other people’s injuries caused by fireworks but it will depend on your carrier and if you were using fireworks legally permitted in your area. Insurance companies will likely deny losses related to shooting illegal fireworks. In general, your policy will provide four types of coverage for physical damages:
- Dwelling: Pays for repairs to your home’s structure if damaged by a firework.
- Additional structures: Firework damages to your fence, sheds, detached garages and other structures are covered.
- Personal property: Damages by fireworks to your furniture, electronics or other personal belongings are reimbursable.
- Additional living expenses: Pays for hotel bills, meals and other daily living expenses to help you recover after a fire if your home is undergoing repairs and is temporarily inaccessible.
Are Injuries Covered?
If fireworks that you lit cause injury to a third party such as your neighbor or a guest, then you can be held liable for their medical bills. Fortunately, your homeowners policy provides third-party liability coverage in two ways:
- Liability: Pays for a third party’s medical bills as well as reimbursement for any damages to their property due to your fireworks.
- Medical payments: Pays for medical treatment if a third party suffers an injury similar to liability insurance except this coverage is for more minor injuries.
Keep in mind that neither of these two coverages will cover injuries sustained by you or anyone else living with you. Instead, you will need to rely on your health insurance coverage.
What if Someone Else Causes Firework Damage to My Home?
If your home is damaged due to somebody else’s fireworks accident, then you can file a claim under the liability portion of their insurance company. For example, if your roof was partially burned down because your neighbor was shooting fireworks in their backyard and one firework landed on your roof, then they and their home insurance company should be held liable for repairing your roof.
Which Insurance Policies Do I Need To Protect My Home on the 4th of July?
Beyond a standard homeowners policy (see above section), an umbrella policy or customized liability policy can help you secure coverage or increase your existing coverage limits.
Personal umbrella policies provide additional coverage if a fireworks-related claim exhausted the limits of your standard policy. For example, say you have $100,000 in personal liability coverage and a fireworks accident caused $150,000 in losses. Your home insurance will cover up to $100,000 and an umbrella policy can cover the remaining $50,000.
Customized Liability Insurance
If your home insurer refuses liability coverage for fireworks-related coverage, you may need to purchase fireworks insurance via a customized liability policy. Customized fireworks liability insurance is coverage for high-risk activities that may be denied under a standard home insurance policy. Beyond covering fireworks-related injuries, a customized liability policy may also extend coverage for a backyard pool or trampoline incident.
Where Are Fireworks Legal in the US?
Most types of consumer fireworks are permitted in the majority of the states. However, Illinois and Vermont allow only novelty items, like sparklers, while Massachusetts bans all consumer fireworks according to the APA.
How Do I File a Claim for Firework Damage?
Take the following steps when filing a home insurance claim for fireworks damages:
- Make sure everybody is safe. If anybody is injured, call 911.
- Notify your insurance company of the incident. Your claims adjuster will walk you through the process and may request documents, such as a copy of the police report or medical invoices. If there is damage to the structure of your home, then your adjuster may visit your home to assess the damages.
- If the claim is approved and you agree on a settlement amount, you should receive the funds by mail or electronically.
How To Stay Safe on the 4th of July
The following safety tips may help you avoid property damages and injuries when lighting fireworks on the 4th of July.
- Only use consumer fireworks legally permitted in your area.
- Read the cautionary labels and instructions on the fireworks before igniting.
- Do not attempt to light homemade fireworks.
- Prohibit young children from handling fireworks.
- Do not mix lighting fireworks and drinking alcohol or consuming other impairing substances.
- Always have a responsible adult supervising firework activity.
- Wear protective eyewear.
- Only light fireworks outdoors, never indoors.
- Ignite fireworks in a clear outdoor area, free from flammable materials.
- Do not point or throw fireworks at other people.
- Discard malfunctioning fireworks and do not reattempt to ignite them.
- Soak fireworks in water before discarding them in a metal container.
- Have a fire extinguisher nearby and learn how to properly operate it.
- Have a bucket of water or water house readily accessible for dousing fires.
In addition, consider learning your home’s insurance protection class, which ranks your area’s ability to prevent and suppress a fire. You are ranked from one to 10, with one being the best score. If your community has a poor score, be extra careful when lighting fireworks because your area may not have a nearby fire department or generous water reserves.