4th of July: Does homeowners insurance cover firework damage?

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Hanna Horvath, CFP®Managing Editor & Certified Financial Planner™Hanna Horvath, CFP®, is a certified financial planner and former managing editor at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in NBC News, Business Insider, Inc. Magazine, CNBC, Best Company, and HerMoney.

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Fireworks are a patriotic staple of any Fourth of July celebration. But that beautiful display can cause some serious damage.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that fireworks start an average of 18,500 fires each year, including 1,300 structure fires. Fireworks cause an annual average of $43 million dollars in direct property damage. And in 2017, 12,900 people were admitted to the emergency room for fireworks-related injuries.

If these facts don’t dissuade you from setting off your own fiery display, at least get familiar with how your homeowners insurance policy covers firework injuries and damage.

Does homeowners insurance cover firework damage?

It depends on what state you live in.

“Since fireworks are illegal in certain states, that can actually play a factor in terms of whether or not you'd be covered,” said Fabio Faschi, property and casualty team lead at Policygenius.

Homeowners insurance policies will cover most fires set in your home, but there are exceptions. The best way to know is by checking your policy and local laws.

Forty-six states, plus the District of Columbia, allow some or all types of consumer fireworks permitted by federal regulations, according to the American Pyrotechnics Association. Three states allow only sparklers: Illinois, Ohio and Vermont. Massachusetts bans all consumer fireworks. Depending on where you live, you may need a permit to set off your own fireworks.

Learn more about what homeowners insurance covers here.

Faschi explained insurance won’t cover intentional criminal acts. So if you launch illegal fireworks and they cause damage to your home, your homeowners insurance policy will likely not cover repair. The same is true if you purposely damage your property using fireworks.

“However, if your neighbor decides to shoot some fireworks into your house, regardless of whether or not fireworks are illegal in the state, your insurance will cover you from the resulting damages or potential fire,” he said.

What about firework injuries?

If you legally set off fireworks and they injure someone, the liability portion of your homeowners insurance is there to protect you, said Faschi. The policy will usually pay for the individual’s medical expenses and legal expenses.

But again, if you are using fireworks illegally and injure someone, you are on the hook financially. Also, if you intentionally injure someone with a firework, your insurance will probably not cover you. And you will probably get arrested.

Staying safe

The best way to protect your family and home from firework damage? Leave it to the pros. There are plenty of local firework displays around the country on July Fourth, or you can catch the national display in the District of Columbia on TV.

If you absolutely must set off fireworks to celebrate Independence Day (or any other day), follow these simple tips.

  • Have a fire extinguisher handy

  • Keep all spectators at a safe distance from the fireworks

  • Don’t set off fireworks while intoxicated

  • Make sure children have direct adult supervision when holding sparklers

You can learn more about firework safety via our infographic here. Have a happy Fourth of July!

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