Don't Let 4th of July Fireworks Blow Up Your Homeowners Insurance

Standard homeowners insurance may cover fireworks, but it will depend on your insurer and whether the fireworks were 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 you’re covered for fires and injuries when the odd firework goes astray.

Consumer Firework Statistics

Consumer fireworks sales have increased in recent years, which can increase the likelihood of property damages and injuries occurring on the 4th of July.

Consumer Fireworks Sales Exploded in 2021

Consumer firework sales exploded to $2.2 billion in 2021 — more than twice the $1 billion generated in 2019 according to the American Pyrotechnics Association (APA).

Consumer Fireworks Sales Exploded in 2021 Bar Chart

Source: APA

With firework sales on an upward trajectory, fireworks-related property damages and injuries will likely increase.

How Many Fires Are Caused by Fireworks?

Fireworks caused $105 million in direct property damage according to a 2020 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) report, with the majority of damages occurring outdoors (88%) or to your home’s structure (5%).

Fires Are Caused by Fireworks in 2020 Pie Chart

Source: NFPA

How Many Injuries Are Caused by Fireworks?

U.S. hospitals treated an estimated 15,600 injuries in 2020 according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Most injuries occurred on the hand or finger (31%) or the head, face or ear (22%).

Estimated Injuries Caused by Fireworks Pie Chart

Source: CPSC

Most fireworks-related injuries occurred among adults ages 25 to 44 in 2020 (3,600), followed by teenagers and young adults ages 15 to 24 (2,600). Always remember to have a responsible adult supervising fireworks activity when young children are around.

Estimated Fireworks Injuries by Age Bar Chart

Source: CPSC

Which Fireworks Cause the Most Injuries?

According to the CPSC, most injuries were caused by firecrackers (37%) and sparklers (29%). Be sure to read the cautionary labels and practice firework safety tips (more on this below) to avoid injuries.

Fireworks Cause the Most Injuries Pie Chart

Source: CPSC

Does Home Insurance Cover Fireworks Damage?

A standard homeowners 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.

Standard home policies covering fireworks-related losses generally have the following coverages:

  • 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 will be 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 unlivable.
  • Liability: Pays for medical bills, property reimbursement and legal expenses if your fireworks activity was responsible for another person’s property damages or injuries.
  • Medical payments: Pays for medical treatment if your guests suffer a minor fireworks-related injury.

What Happens If I Cause an Accident While Using Fireworks?

If the accident occurred on your property, then your home insurance policy should cover damages and liability if:

  1. Fireworks-related losses are covered by your insurer.
  2. The fireworks involved were permitted for private consumer use in your area.

If your homeowners insurance policy does not cover fireworks-related losses, then you will be responsible for damages to your property and liability expenses if you do not have another type of insurance policy for fireworks.

What if Someone Else Causes the Firework Accident?

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 lighting 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.

What Type of Insurance Is Needed for My Home and Fireworks?

Beyond a standard homeowners policy (see above section), a customized liability policy or umbrella policy can help you secure coverage or increase your existing coverage limits.

Umbrella Policy

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 customized liability insurance. 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.

Do I Need Insurance for a Fireworks Display?

There are generally no state or federal fireworks display insurance requirements when lighting consumer fireworks for private use. However, you should be mindful of the legality of which fireworks you are using. Not all fireworks are allowed in every state (see table below).

If the fireworks display is commercial activity (e.g., you rent a space and charge admission), then you will be subject to state and local laws, such as carrying general liability insurance.

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How To File a Claim for Firework Damage

Take the following steps when filing a home insurance claim for firework damages:

  1. Make sure everybody is safe. If anybody is injured, call 911.
  2. 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.
  3. If the claim is approved and you agree on a settlement amount, you should receive the funds by mail or electronically.

Most types of consumer fireworks are permitted in the majority of the states. However, Illinois and Vermont allow only novelty items, like sparklers, and Massachusetts bans all consumer fireworks according to the APA.

Permitted Fireworks by State Map Chart

Source: APA

Illegal fireworks will vary by state and you should double-check your state’s laws to ensure you are celebrating Independence Day without breaking the law. Take a look at our table below to see an idea of illegal fireworks in your state.

State

Prohibited Fireworks

Alabama

Fireworks that exceed 2 grains of explosive composition; all mail-order fireworks

Alaska

Products not defined as salable consumer fireworks

Arizona

Firecrackers; bottle rockets; skyrockets; missile-type rockets; helicopters; aerial spinners; torpedoes; Roman candles; mine devices; shell devices; aerial shell kits or reloadable tubes

Arkansas

M-80s; M-100s; quarter sticks; cherry bombs; silver salutes 

California

Fireworks that explode or go into the air (e.g., skyrockets, bottle rockets, Roman candles, aerial shells, firecrackers); fireworks not on SFM annual approved list.

Colorado

Firecrackers; rockets; bottle rockets;  (including bottle rockets); Roman candles; cherry bombs; mortars

Connecticut

Tube sparkling devices that exceed 100 grams of explosive composition; novelty fireworks

Delaware

Firecrackers; torpedoes; skyrockets; Roman candles; Daygo bombs; and aerial shell

devices.

Florida

Firecrackers; torpedoes; skyrockets; Roman candles; Daygo bombs; and

any fireworks containing explosive or flammable compounds.

Georgia

Fireworks that require devices with fire underneath for propulsion (e.g., balloon, bag, parachute); firelit lanterns that float on a public waterway, lake, pond, stream or river

Hawaii

Aerial fireworks (e.g., bottle rockets; rockets;

helicopters; torpedoes); Daygo bombs; Roman candles; flying pigs;

jumping jacks

Idaho

Firecrackers; jumping jacks; or similar products.

Illinois

Handheld fireworks; bottle rockets; skyrockets; Roman candles; chasers; buzz bombs; helicopters; missiles; pinwheels; planes; sky lanterns; firecrackers (all types)

Indiana

N/A

Iowa

N/A

Kansas

Bottle rockets

Kentucky

Bottle rockets

Louisiana

Sky Lanterns; Roman candles with more than 10 shots; stick rockets larger than 6 oz.

Maine

N/A

Maryland

All consumer fires not defined as “Ground-Based Sparkling Devices”

Massachusetts

All consumer fireworks

Michigan

Sky lanterns

Minnesota

Fireworks that exceed 75 grams of chemical mixture per tube or 500 grams total

Mississippi

N/A

Missouri

N/A

Montana

N/A

Nebraska

N/A

Nevada

Large firecrackers; aerial displays and

items that explode on impact or by friction

New Hampshire

N/A

New Jersey

Torpedoes; firecrackers; skyrockets; aerial devices and fireworks containing yellow or

white phosphorus or mercury.

New Mexico

Stick-type rockets having a tube less than ¼” inside diameter

New York

Aerial consumer fireworks; firecrackers and chasers; skyrockets; Roman

candles; bombs; and metal wire sparklers.

North Carolina

Explosives or aerial fireworks; Roman candles; and rockets or similar

devices.

North Dakota

Fireworks that exceed 50 mg of explosive material; fireworks that exceed 1½” in length and ¼” in diameter; any firework that is not star lights, helicopter flyers, cylindrical fountains, cone fountains, wheels,

torches, colored fire, sparklers, dipped sticks, comets, shells, soft shell

Ohio

N/A

Oklahoma

Skyrockets; M-80s; mail-order

sales of fireworks; and door-to-door sales.

Oregon

Aerial fireworks (e.g., bottle rockets and Roman candles); any type

of fireworks not obtained from an Oregon permitted retail stand; online order fireworks

Pennsylvania

N/A

Rhode Island

Aerial consumer fireworks without special permits; sky lanterns

South Carolina

Small rockets less than ½” in diameter and 3” long

South Dakota

N/A

Tennessee

Sky lanterns

Texas

Small rockets (less than 4 gms propellant; and casings less than 5/8 of

an inch x 3 ½;” and overall length including stick of less than 1.8’’.)

Utah

Firecrackers; bottle rockets; missiles; Roman candles; skyrockets; rockets mounted on a wire or stick; ground salutes; M-80s; cherry

bombs; aerial salutes; flash shells; comets; mines; single shot or reloadable aerial shells; aerials that contain over 500 grams of explosive material

Vermont

Firecrackers; skyrockets; Roman candles; torpedoes; and Daygo bombs

Virginia

Firecrackers; skyrockets; torpedoes; other fireworks which explode,

travel laterally rise into the air, or fire projectiles into the air

Washington

Firecrackers; skyrockets; salutes; chasers; bottle rockets

West Virginia

N/A

Wisconsin

Firecrackers; wheels; torpedoes; skyrockets; Roman candles; aerial salutes; and bombs

Wyoming

N/A

Source: APA

If your homeowners insurance policy does not cover fireworks-related losses, then you will be responsible for damages to your property and liability expenses if you do not have another type of insurance policy for fireworks.

Tips To Stay Safe on the 4th of July

The following 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 (see above table).
  • 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.

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. Neighborhoods with nearby fire departments and generous water supplies typically receive favorable insurance scores.

FAQs

Can a firework damage a house?

Fireworks can damage your home in several ways, such as accidentally colliding against your home’s structure or a stray spark igniting a fire that can spread throughout your home.

Can you sue neighbors for fireworks damage?

If you suffered property damage or bodily injuries as a result of a fireworks accident caused by your neighbor, you can either file a liability claim with their homeowners insurance company or sue them for your losses.

Is it safe to store fireworks in the garage?

Storing fireworks in a garage may be suitable if it is a cool and dry place year-round, stored out of reach of children and never on top of an electrical appliance that may accidentally ignite from a lightning or power surge. Consult your local fire marshal’s office for more tips on safe fireworks handling and disposal.

Key Takeaways

  • Consumer fireworks sales more than doubled from 2019 ($1 billion) to 2021 ($2.2 billion).
  • The majority of fires caused by fireworks occurred outdoors (88%) or involved home structures (5%), while the majority of injuries were among individuals ages 25 to 44 (35%) in 2020.
  • Standard homeowners may cover property damages and liability claims caused by fireworks but it will depend on your insurer and whether the fireworks were legally permitted in your area.
  • Practice firework safety by reading cautionary labels and lighting fireworks in an outdoor and clear area under responsible adult supervision to reduce the likelihood of a fireworks-related insurance claim.

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