Fire Insurance

Most home and business insurance policies cover fire damage. If the fire damage is extensive and you are not able to live in your home, homeowner’s and tenant’s insurance policies may provide coverage for reasonable additional living expenses for a specified period of time.

Are you responsible for damage to your neighbours?

Insurance policies can include coverage for liability in the event that a fire you are responsible for starting damages the property of others. This can include a fire in your home that spreads to your neighbours, a bonfire in your backyard that has sparks landing on other property which spread or living in a shared property complex (apartments or condo). Any property that is not owned by you but is damaged due to your actions can be covered under the liability insurance on your policy.

Protect Yourself

  • Create an emergency plan with your family to ensure that all family members know what to do in the event of a fire. Your plan should include all possible exit routes from each room of your home as well as a safe place to meet if you are not at home or need to evacuate.
  • Get our and stay out. If you smell smoke or see flames, get everyone out of the building immediately. Get down on your knees and crawl to an exit as smoke is cleaner near the floor. Close doors behind you to prevent the spread of a fire and never use an elevator if in a multistory building.
  • Whenever you suspect a fire, call 911. Often a person assumes that someone else has called and they do not call themselves which can result in precious minutes lost by the fire department’s delay.
  • Prepare your home. There are practical ways to reduce fire damage to your home.
    • Frequently inspect and clean chimney flues, particularly when burning oil, coal or wood.
    • Use a fireplace screen to prevent sparks from hitting the floor and rugs.
    • Do not install a bulb with a higher wattage than the maximum indicated on the fixture.
    • Install ground-fault circuit interrupters.
    • Keep your attic tidy. Clutter such as clothing, boxes, books, magazines and newspapers not only fuels a fire but prevents firefighters from gaining access to extinguish the flames.
    • Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors outside bedrooms and on each floor of your home. Check batteries every spring and fall.
    • Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.
    • Consider investing in a lightning rod if your home is built on an elevated or exposed site.
    • Ensure your garage is separated from the living quarters by a fire-resistant, self-closing door.
    • Ensure your garage has properly wired light fixtures that are controlled by a switch rather than makeshift installations that use an extension cord.
    • Do not store gasoline, solvents, waste or other flammable materials near your furnace or in your garage. Store them in an outbuilding away from your home.
    • Ensure your fuses and circuit breakers work properly. Inspect aluminum wiring periodically. Consider hiring an electrician to review your wiring.
    • If your home has a heating boiler, have it inspected and cleaned frequently. Do not block the air vent or damper. If your home has an oil tank, have it periodically inspected to ensure it is airtight so fuel oil does not overflow or leak.
    • Remove excess lint from the lint trap of your clothes dryer and keep the exhaust vent clean.
    • Don’t let dry leaves and debris collect near the outside walls of your home, particularly if you have wood or vinyl siding.
    • Have enough electrical outlets to avoid the excessive use of extension cords. If an extension cord is needed, don’t run it under a rug.
    • When cooking: Keep pot handles turned inward over the stove. Remove greasy build-up from the range hood and the filters. Keep curtains pulled away from any heating elements on the stove.
    • Do not leave lighted candles unattended or burning overnight.
    • Do not leave a clothing iron or hair straightening iron unattended.
    • Never smoke in bed. Better yet, always smoke outside and away from the home. Be sure to securely store matches and lighters away from children.


How Insurance Can Help

Most home insurance policies will cover your home in the event of fire damage as well as the subsequent water damage incurred trying to put out the fire. This coverage is one of the base pillars of a majority of homeowners insurance policies in Canada.

In certain circumstances, homeowners unable to live in their home due to the damage may be entitled to additional living expenses if they are evacuated due to a civil authority evacuation notice or if the house is unlivable due to the damage.

Tips for Starting a Claim

  • Call your insurance broker. Many insurers and brokers have 24-hour claims services to take you information and start the claim process. Be sure to be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • Assess and document the fire and water damage to your property. Taking photos or video can be helpful for the insurance company.
  • Begin making a list of all the damaged or destroyed items. If you are able, begin assembling any proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties that you have for the damaged items. Take photos of the damaged items which show the damage incurred and keep the item unless it poses a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and securing your property. You should be taking steps to prevent further damage to your home which may include installing tarps over holes made to the structure or boarding up doors and windows.
  • You may also be entitled to living expenses if you are displaced. This can be either because your home has experienced fire damage which prohibits you from living in it or if you were told to evacuate the area by a civil authority. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you may be entitled to and for how long.

For more information on what fire coverage is available to you or to purchase insurance on your property, please speak with your local independent insurance broker. Your broker will discuss your insurance requirements and work with you to find an insurance company that best fits your needs. A list of brokerages can be found at