What Does Home Insurance Cover In A Fire

Wednesday 10th November 2021

Sophie Rioch

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A home fire can be devastating. Even when you and your loved ones are unharmed, your family’s place of shelter and security might be damaged or even destroyed. Your valuables and mementos could all go up in smoke.

Home insurance should provide cover for the damage, as well as for the cost of fire damage cleaning, allowing you and your family to rebuild your lives. So what is likely to be included in your policy, and how can you make a claim? Read on for our quick guide.

Fire prevention measures

You really want to avoid having to make a claim in the first place!

Some 46% of accidental house fires were caused by cooking appliances in 2020/21. So don’t leave pans unattended, keep an eye on young children in the kitchen, and have a fire blanket to hand.

Faulty or misused appliances are also to blame for many fires. So check them for damage, and don’t overload plug sockets.

Smoking materials account for 8% of fires – but 32% of fatalities. Put out cigarettes carefully, don’t leave them unattended, and don’t smoke in bed.

Once a fire has started, it can spread quickly. Fitting smoke detectors in your home will alert you – remember to test them regularly too.

Keeping your home uncluttered also reduces fire hazards: there is less material to burn, and clear exit routes for your family.

By putting these simple measures in place, you can minimise the risks and damage. But if your home is affected, professional fire damage cleaning and smoke odour removal can help make it inhabitable once more.

What to do after a house fire

Of course, the most important things to do when you spot a fire are to get your family to safety, call the fire brigade, and seek medical attention if necessary. Everything else can wait!

After the fire brigade has put out a fire in your home, firefighters will tell you whether your home is structurally safe and give you advice about your next steps.

If the building is unsafe, they will inform the local authorities. They may also carry out basic work to shore it up, demolish any dangerous parts, or fence it off so it does not present a danger to the public. However, they will leave it to you to arrange building works or fire damage cleaning and restoration.

If you’re not returning to your property, you’ll need to secure it and remove any valuables once safe to do so. That could mean hiring tradespeople to replace or board up windows and doors.

If the fire service has disconnected your electricity, gas or water, you need to get these professionally checked and repaired. Contact your suppliers, who may direct you to qualified tradespeople in your area.

If your building is structurally safe, you should arrange fire damage cleaning as quickly as possible. Ideally, smoke odour removal should start within 24 hours – otherwise, the smell seeps into soft furnishings and is harder to neutralise.

At ICE Cleaning, we’ve got teams stationed around the country who can be with you within an hour, day or night. While you wait, you can help by ventilating your home and removing as many textiles as possible.

What does insurance cover?

Once everything and everybody is safe and secure, you need to contact your insurance provider.

Standard home insurance policies will cover fire damage, but check the wording for details. If you have separate buildings and contents insurance you’ll need to make separate claims.

Your policy should cover common costs including: emergency accommodation if necessary for you and your family; replacing your belongings; damage caused by the fire brigade, for example, from hose water; and fire damage restoration and cleaning works. Some policies include boarding for pets, too.

Of course, there are caveats.

If your fire was started by a smoker, and you told your provider that nobody in your home smoked, your claim could be rejected. Likewise, your insurance company might turn down your claim if you said you had fire or smoke alarms fitted, but these were not working.

If you left your home unoccupied for longer than 30 days (or whatever is stipulated in your policy) without telling your insurer, your claim might be rejected.

Failure to secure your property after a fire might lead to your insurance provider refusing to cover you for any theft or damage that results. Floods or fires caused by you trying to reconnect services yourself will also be excluded.

And if you started the fire deliberately, you can expect not only to have your claim rejected, but also to face criminal charges.

What documents do I need to make a claim?

To make a claim, call your provider as soon as possible. It’s helpful if you have your policy number, but don’t worry if your documentation has been destroyed – they will have their own records. They are likely to send their own evaluators to assess the damage.

You might need to submit a report from the fire brigade, local authority building control office, or police, if relevant. This tells your insurance provider the cause of the fire, and the extent of the damage. Photos might be needed to back this up.

You’ll also have to submit receipts for costs incurred. If possible, get your provider’s approval before getting any work done. But if it’s an emergency, keep records and let your provider know as soon as possible.

Fire damage cleaning

At ICE Cleaning, we’re experts in fire damage cleaning, restoration and smoke odour removal. We frequently carry out work across the UK that is covered by home insurance policies.

Our technicians are qualified and experienced professionals, equipped with specialist tools and safety equipment. We can clean ash, soot, smoke and water from fire engines to the highest standards.

Whether you plan to live in your home yourself, or sell up and move on, our services will restore your property to as pristine a state as possible. For a free survey and quote, contact us on 0208 066 0360 or enquiries@icecleaning.co.uk now.

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