Yes, homeowners insurance will cover fireworks in most situations. However, there are caveats, such as if fireworks are not legal in your state.
While firework displays in the backyard or neighborhood can be vibrant and fun, they can also be dangerous. In 2020 alone, 15,600 people sustained injuries from fireworks that put them in the hospital. Most of these injuries happen during the Fourth of July holiday.
Damage caused by fireworks, such as a fire, will usually be covered by homeowners insurance. However, if you live in certain states where fireworks are illegal, your homeowners insurance policy will not cover any damages caused by fireworks.
What happens if your house burns down due to fireworks?
According to the National Fire Protection Association, fireworks are responsible for an estimated 19,500 fires and nearly 1,900 structure fires.
If your home catches on fire from fireworks, your homeowners insurance policy will cover any property damage or destruction as long as you live in a state where fireworks are legal. Your structural coverage will take care of claims for damage to your own home.
Does homeowners insurance cover fire damage to a neighbor’s property?
Yes, but only if fireworks are legal in your state. While Massachusetts is the only state where fireworks are completely illegal, some states have very strict laws about fireworks — Illinois and Vermont being two of them. Each state differs in their fireworks laws and what type of fireworks are permitted, so you should check your local laws before setting any off.
If fireworks are illegal in your state, homeowners insurance will not cover the cost of repairing any damages. Some states require licenses to set off fireworks, and homeowners insurance will only cover damages if you obtained the license.
But, where it is legal, you can rest easy knowing that any accidental damage to a neighbor’s property will be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. In this scenario, you are protected by your policy’s liability coverage, which will pay out to repair your neighbor’s personal property. If your neighbor sues you for the damages, your policy will also cover legal fees.
Does homeowners insurance cover injuries from fireworks?
Yes. The liability portion of your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t only cover personal property — it will also cover any medical expenses if you set off fireworks that injure someone. It will also cover the legal fees if someone sues you because of their injuries. But again, if the fireworks were set off in a state where it is illegal, you will not be covered. Additionally, if you intentionally injure someone with fireworks, homeowners insurance will not cover any medical care or legal fees.
And while homeowners insurance will cover injuries your fireworks cause another person, it won’t cover you if you’re injured by your own firework display. For example, if you burn yourself setting off fireworks, you will need to seek coverage under your health insurance policy. Only those not living in your household who are accidentally injured on your property will be covered by your homeowners insurance policy.
What if your car catches on fire from fireworks?
Your homeowners insurance will not cover damages to your car from fireworks. Fire damage to a vehicle would be covered under the comprehensive portion of your car insurance policy. This is optional coverage that you will have to add to your car insurance policy and is not included in a liability-only auto insurance policy.
What if your home insurance limits are exceeded?
If damages you caused others, and that are paid out by your liability coverage, exceed your homeowners insurance limits, you can use coverage from an umbrella policy. Umbrella coverage can be used when the liability limits of your home (or auto) policy are exceeded.
Anyone participating in dangerous activities that increase your chances of liability, such as setting off fireworks, should get an umbrella policy.
How to stay safe when setting off fireworks
If you’re planning to host a Fourth of July party that involves dazzling your friends and neighbors with fireworks, do a bit of research. First, make certain you are obeying local laws. Fireworks are not legal in every state. Second, be aware of what your home insurance policy covers in the event of a fireworks-related accident. Most do, but every policy has its own exclusions so double-check yours.
Here are a few safety tips from the National Council on Fireworks Safety, American Pyrotechnics and the Insurance Information Institute.
- Obey the law. Don’t use fireworks that are illegal in your state.
- Keep your pets away from fireworks. Pets have sensitive hearing and the noise can hurt them or cause anxiety. They should also be in a safe space where they cannot run away in fear.
- Keep fireworks away from children. Make sure they are at least 30 feet away from where you are igniting fireworks. Even sparklers burn up to 2,000 degrees, making them extremely dangerous for children. Explain to children that fireworks are not toys and can cause the loss of a finger or hand.
- Be sure other adults and children are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never point fireworks at others.
- Always read and follow the directions for fireworks carefully.
- Use fireworks outdoors only.
- Use a flat, hard surface like a driveway. Avoid lighting fireworks on grass or in containers.
- Only use fireworks in an open area.
- Take it slow. Light only one at a time.
- Wear eye protection. Don’t put a body part near a lit firework.
- Don’t use malfunctioning items. Never attempt to relight a “dud.”
- Have a fire extinguisher, hose or bucket of water handy for emergencies. Drop used fireworks into a bucket of water.
- Alcohol and fireworks do not mix. Have a “designated shooter.”
Always use fireworks with caution. If damage or injury results from use, read over your policy and make a claim, but be aware it can lead to higher home insurance rates.
Don’t despair if your rates do rise, you can shop around and possibly find a homeowners insurer that doesn’t rate as harshly for claims. We can help you find the best home insurance companies if you’re in the market for a new home insurance provider.
Penny Gusner contributed to this story.