Nothing quite captures the spirit of the 4th of July like fireworks – the brightness! The clamor! The splendor! We strongly recommend you leave the pyrotechnics to the professionals, but we also realize there’s a reason the US imports $332 million worth of fireworks a year – folks are going to set them off even if it’s not safe (or sometimes legal. You rebels).
But you should take care if you meddle with fireworks. At the end of the day, these are explosives, even if they are the charming variety. Fireworks sent 9,100 people to the ER for injuries in 2018. More than a third of those were injuries to the eye or head.
In addition to physical harm, fireworks can get out of hand and cause a lot of property damage. Here’s what you should know about how your homeowners insurance may respond.
Does homeowners insurance cover firework damage?
Given that fireworks caused 19,500 fires in 2018, including 1,900 structure fires and $105 million in direct property damage, claims are a real risk. There are three ways fireworks may trigger a home insurance claim:
- You set off fireworks that damage your own home.
- You set off fireworks that damage someone else’s home.
- Your fireworks cause someone bodily harm.
Whether your home insurance policy covers these situations is another story. Your policy language and the facts surrounding the loss ultimately determine whether your coverage applies.
For example, most home insurance policies cover fires. But if the fire was caused by illegal activity (e.g., you set off fireworks in a state where they’re not legal or you intentionally aimed a firework at your home, someone else’s home, or a person), home insurance likely wouldn’t cover it.
If your house catches fire because of fireworks someone else lit, contact your insurance company.
For reference, some or all types of consumer fireworks that meet federal regulations are legal in 46 states plus the District of Columbia. Illinois, Vermont, and Ohio only allow sparklers. They are outright illegal in Massachusetts.
Even if consumer fireworks are legal where you live, you may need a permit to set them off yourself. Make sure you know your state and city firework laws before you engage.
Does homeowners insurance cover firework injuries?
Again, it depends on the circumstances and your policy’s language. While homeowners insurance includes personal liability coverage to help pay for your legal expenses when you accidentally cause someone an injury or property damage, it won’t cover illegal acts (like if you intentionally caused someone harm or the circumstances surrounding the harm were illegal).
A claims adjuster will likely want to know:
- Were the fireworks legal?
- Who lit the fireworks?
- Did the fireworks function as intended?
- How much experience do you have using fireworks?
- Were the neighbors also setting off fireworks?
- Did your neighbors okay the use of fireworks?
Regardless, if someone is hurt because of the fireworks you set off, you should tend to their medical needs and contact your insurance company.
Firework safety tips
Our VP of claims says you shouldn’t use fireworks unless you can do so safely and legally. Make sure folks are clear of any potential contact from the fireworks.
If you’re planning to use fireworks:
- Ensure the type of fireworks you want to use are legal.
- Strictly follow all directions for use.
- Plan the trajectory and landing areas to make sure they’re free of debris and structures. Remember: embers from fireworks can travel for miles.
- Only use fireworks outdoors and in a clear space.
- Keep your audience at a safe distance from the point of ignition.
- Keep a hose, bucket of water, or a fire extinguisher nearby.
- Keep your wits about you – drinking alcohol and lighting fireworks is a recipe for disaster.
If your home is damaged, call the fire department and try your best to (safely!) prevent your home from experiencing further damage.
Stay safe out there, friends, and have a happy Fourth of July!