What Does Fire Insurance Cover?

Fire insurance covers damage to your house and belongings caused by fire and smoke.

Basic homeowners and renters insurance policies typically include coverage for fire damage. However, your insurance company may not offer fire protection for your home if it's considered high-risk. In this case, you must buy a separate fire insurance policy.

Find Cheap Homeowners Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Currently insured?
It's free, simple and secure.

What is fire insurance and how does it work?

Fire insurance pays to fix damage to your home and other structures on your property after a fire. It also covers the cost of repairing or replacing your belongings, like furniture and clothes.

Does homeowners insurance cover fires?

Even the most basic homeowners insurance policies typically include fire insurance coverage.

Generally, home fire insurance doesn't just cover things that are burned. Much of the damage fire causes to homes and properties is caused by smoke. Smoke can damage walls, furniture and other objects. Standard home insurance usually covers smoke damage, too.

Your insurance policy should pay to fix fire damage, even if your policy doesn't cover the cause of the fire. For example, if an earthquake knocks down an electrical line and sets your home on fire, you can make a claim with your regular insurance.

After a fire, your insurance company will pay up to your coverage limits minus your deductible.

Fire insurance claims examples

Correct amount of coverage

  • Coverage limit: $300,000
  • Cost of fire damage: $300,000
  • Deductible: $1,000

Insurance payout: $299,000

Not enough coverage

  • Coverage limit: $200,000
  • Cost of fire damage: $300,000
  • Deductible: $1,000

Insurance payout: $199,000

Different parts of your home insurance policy will cover fire damage to different things.

Dwelling coverage

Dwelling coverage pays to repair burned-away or singed portions of your house. It also covers smoke damage to the house.

If a fire burns your house to the ground, your insurance company will pay up to your limits to rebuild your home.

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage pays to replace your clothing, furniture and other belongings after a fire.

Insurance companies treat valuable items, like jewelry and artwork, differently. Expensive items usually have limits set per item. Make sure your home insurance policy provides enough coverage for all your valuables. You might need to add extra coverage for these items.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage protects against lawsuits and related damage if a fire spreads from your house to a neighbor's property.

Loss of use coverage

Loss of use coverage pays for temporary lodging, like a hotel and food if your home is unsafe to live in after a fire.

Keep in mind that most, but not all, homeowners insurance policies include all of these coverages. Check your policy for the exact protections you have.

If your house burns down, what does insurance cover?

Fire insurance typically covers damage to your home and property, even if you accidentally caused the fire. Common causes covered by insurance include:

  • Candles
  • Cooking and grease fires
  • Electrical fires
  • Gas leaks
  • Heating elements
  • Lightning strikes
  • Power surges
  • Wildfires

Does insurance cover arson?

Whether your insurance company will cover arson depends on who started the fire. If you're a victim of arson, that's considered vandalism, and your insurance company should pay for the damage.

However, if a homeowner burns their house down on purpose, the insurance company will not cover the cost of fixing or replacing it. Arson is a crime, and you could face jailtime or a large fine if you burn down your home.

Types of fires not covered by insurance

Insurance companies won't pay for damage caused by an improperly cleaned chimney and other types of homeowner neglect. For example, if you don't clean your dryer vents regularly and the built-up lint causes a fire, the insurance company won't pay for repairs.

Fire insurance typically covers wildfires. However, your company may not offer you wildfire insurance if you live in an area with frequent fires. In this case, you may need to pay extra for wildfire coverage or buy a separate policy.

Can I buy fire insurance for my home?

In addition to regular homeowners insurance, you may be able to buy a separate fire insurance policy from some companies.

These policies are usually called dwelling fire coverage. They include protection against fire, smoke, explosions and sometimes wind. Wind can cause fire damage to spread quickly, sometimes to nearby homes. Dwelling fire coverage usually costs less than standard homeowners insurance because it doesn't cover as many types of damage.

You might need to buy separate fire insurance instead of traditional home insurance to insure a very old home that isn't built to stand up to fires. Or you might need to buy a policy for a vacation home, which can sometimes be difficult to insure.

Additionally, you can use a dwelling fire policy to get more protection than your homeowners insurance provides. This could be because you live in an area with regular forest fires. Or, you may have had a house fire in the past and want extra peace of mind.

How much is fire insurance a month?

Most homeowners insurance policies include fire insurance at no additional cost.

The cost of fire insurance depends on a lot of factors. This includes where you live, the type of home you own, your claims history and the amount of coverage you get.

Average cost of homeowners insurance

Dwelling coverage
Monthly cost

How to get fire insurance for a high-risk home

Companies may not offer you insurance if you live in a house with a high fire risk. Or they could decline to renew your policy.

This may be because you're too far from a fire department, your home is close to brush or you live near a canyon, which can funnel winds and create large wildfires. These conditions are common in California, which has experienced a record number of wildfires in recent years.

If you can't get standard home insurance, you may be able to buy a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) insurance policy.

FAIR policies protect homes that don't qualify for insurance on the open market due to fire or another risk, like flooding. These policies are government-backed and available in most states.

FAIR insurance plans usually aren't cheaper than privately sold insurance plans and often come with less coverage. For example, FAIR coverage in California only covers damage caused by fire and smoke. It doesn't protect against other types of damage, like water or wind damage unrelated to a fire.

Before you commit to a FAIR plan, make sure to check for quotes from several home insurance companies. Every company evaluates risk differently, and just because one company denies you doesn't mean another will. If you can get fire insurance from another source, it's typically a better option.

Talk to your neighbors about which insurers they use, too. Their homes likely have similar fire risk, so a company willing to protect their homes may also insure yours.

Another option is to work with an independent insurance agent. They can help you find an insurance company in your area that is most likely to offer you coverage.

Homeowners in high-risk areas can also consider combining a FAIR plan and a standard insurance policy.

With this option, a FAIR policy covers your home for fire damage only. Then, you can buy a separate home insurance policy for the other types of coverage, like damage from theft and liability protection. These plans are sometimes called difference-in-conditions (DIC) insurance. [/border]

Denied fire insurance claims: Why it happens, and what to do

There's a chance your insurance company may not approve your fire claim or pay for all of the damage. Every claim is different, but there are some common reasons your insurance company may deny your fire insurance claim.

  • Your home is vacant. Standard homeowners insurance won't cover homes with nobody living in them. You have to buy a special policy for vacation homes or vacant home insurance.
  • Your electrical systems aren't up to code. Insurance won't cover a fire caused by wiring in your home that doesn't meet your area's building codes.
  • Your home insurance policy is inactive because you haven't paid the bill.
  • The insurance company finds evidence of illegal activity, such as manufacturing drugs.
  • Your insurance company suspects you set the fire on purpose. This is called arson.
  • Your insurance company believes you tried to commit insurance fraud. Insurance fraud can mean you lied or purposefully misstated something about the claim, such as the value of your property.
  • The amount of coverage you have isn't enough to pay to repair the damage or replace your belongings. In this case, insurance will reimburse you up to your policy limits.

What to do if insurance denies your fire claim

To dispute a rejected fire damage insurance claim, you'll need to make an appeal. If your appeal isn't successful, you may need to file a complaint and hire a lawyer.


Review your insurance company's denial thoroughly. After denying your claim, your company will send you a detailed explanation. It should describe what the company found and why it denied your claim. Review this carefully so you can decide whether to argue that your insurance policy should cover the damage.


Go through your insurance company's appeal process. Companies must allow you to appeal their decision. They will recheck the numbers and address any issues. However, there's no guarantee they'll pay your claim after an appeal.


File an official complaint and contact a lawyer. If your company still denies your claim after an appeal, you'll need to contact a fire damage attorney near you. Your lawyer will review your claim and help you decide whether you're likely to win a lawsuit. You should also file an official complaint with your state's Department of Insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Does homeowners insurance cover arson?

Home insurance may cover arson if you're the victim. In this situation, arson is a type of vandalism, which home insurance typically covers. However, your insurance company won't pay for arson damage if you started the fire.

Does home insurance cover fire?

Yes, most basic homeowners insurance policies cover fire and smoke damage. If you live in an area with a high risk of wildfires, your insurance company may exclude wildfire damage from your policy. In addition, insurance may not offer fire protection for older homes with higher fire risk, like those with dated electrical wiring.

Will insurance cover a house fire started by a cigarette?

Your home insurance policy will usually cover a fire started by a cigarette as long as it was an accident. Most insurance policies don't cover damage if you intentionally started the fire. Your company may not pay your claim if it believes you were negligent in cleaning up your cigarettes, which caused the fire.


To find the average cost of homeowners insurance by dwelling coverage, ValuePenguin collected quotes from residential ZIP codes across all 50 states. Rates are for a policy with $100,000 of liability coverage, $5,000 of medical payments coverage and a $1,000 deductible.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author's opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.