Ask the Home Insurance Expert
QWhat is the chance that a U.S. home owner will file an insurance claim for fire?
The chance that a home will suffer a fire depends on a variety of factors, such as whether it's located in an area at risk for wildfire, how it's constructed and whether the home owner takes precautions to prevent fire.
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 373,900 home fires per year from 2005 to 2009, according to research released in June 2011 by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). During the five-year period, one in every 310 households reported a home fire, and one of every 114,000 U.S. residents died in a home fire each year.
Cooking fires were the leading cause of home structure fires and home fire injuries, and smoking materials were the leading cause of home fire deaths, the NFPA says.
Fire prevention tips from the NFPA
To prevent fires, the NFPA offers the following tips:
- Watch while you cook. Don't leave the kitchen when you're frying, grilling or broiling food.
- Keep space heaters at least three feet away from anything that can burn, and turn them off when you leave the room or go to sleep.
- Don't allow smoking inside.
- Replace damaged electrical cords.
- Keep matches and lighters away from children.
- Blow out candles when you leave the room or go to sleep, and keep them at least a foot away from anything that can burn.
- Make a home fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.
- Install smoke alarms in every sleeping area, and connect them so when one goes off, the others go off. Test them and replace batteries at least once a year.
- Install fire sprinklers when building or remodeling a home.
Standard home insurance covers fire damage to the home's structure and to personal belongings. Renters insurance covers personal belongings damaged by fire. Home and renters insurance also cover water damage from firefighting efforts.
For more about cooking fire dangers, see Deep-fried turkey fiascos can spoil Thanksgiving.