Explore Home & Contents Insurance

Does home insurance cover fire?

‘Fire insurance’ is not a specific type of insurance product; rather, it’s an insured event included in all home and contents insurance policies. Your home and contents insurance policy is designed to cover you in the event a fire damages or destroys your home and possessions.

A home insurance policy (otherwise known as home buildings insurance) will only cover the rebuilding costs for your home up to your sum insured (i.e. how much your home is covered for), but not your contents within it; this is why it’s important to have contents insurance (as a combined policy for homeowners or standalone for renters) so your possessions are also covered for fire damage. The type of policy you have (home insurance cover, contents only or combined cover) and which items are damaged will determine whether you can make a claim or not.

The amount you receive from your insurance claim will depend both on your level of cover and the value of your home and contents. If your home and possessions are a total loss, it’s important that your insured amount will adequately cover the repair and replacement costs.

If you’re unsure of the value of your home, your insurer may provide you with a building sum insured calculator (if they subscribe to the General Insurance Code of Practice). If not, then you may need a professional property valuation to give a more accurate assessment of your sum insured. When it comes to figuring out how much contents insurance you need for your belongings, you can find contents calculators online to use that can help you tally up the worth of your belongings.

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The insurance definition of fire damage

While fire is an insured event, whether your home and contents insurance covers fire damage will vary between insurers. There is no standardised definition of fire damage across insurers, so you’ll need to check the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) to see exactly what events and types of damage are covered.

How home and contents insurance can cover fires and fire damages

There’s a lot of work involved in repairing a home or replacing contents damaged by fire. Fortunately, home and contents insurance policies can help by covering a variety of different costs that can come up following a fire.

The table below shows the different things that home and contents insurance may typically help with. Be aware that these lists aren’t exhaustive, and fire cover varies between insurers.

Covered by home insuranceCovered by contents insuranceExcluded
  • Repair or replacement of buildings
  • Demolition of damaged buildings
  • Removal of debris
  • Temporary accommodation
  • Professional fees for architects and surveyors
  • Repair or replacement of possessions
  • Removal of damaged belongings from the property
  • Moving or storage fees for undamaged contents
  • Lack of flame (e.g. damage caused by scorches, melting and smoke)
  • Reckless, deliberate or illegal activity resulting in a fire
  • Failure to comply with fire safety laws

Always read the PDS of a new policy document before you buy and remember that cover is subject to your insured sum, limits, exclusions and restrictions.

Home safe from fire damage

Frequently asked questions

Should I have fire cover if I live in a bushfire risk area?

Fire protection is particularly crucial in Australia, a country that’s no stranger to this natural disaster. During the summer months, raging bushfires can destroy the homes and belongings of many people across the country.

Thankfully, home and contents insurance can provide a payout towards the repair or rebuilding of your home and belongings inside it if it’s damaged by fire, protecting you from major out-of-pocket costs.

How much does it cost to include fire cover in home and contents insurance?

Fire cover is automatically included in home and contents policies, so you pay for it through your premiums. However, the amount you pay in premiums can be influenced by the risk of fire at your address, as well as the estimated cost of rebuilding, repairing or replacing your home and belongings.

For example, living in a bushfire-prone area may increase your premiums, as your insurance provider will see you as a higher risk to cover. Likewise, if your contents would cost a significant amount to replace, you may pay a little more for your insurance to reflect this higher value.

If you’d like to find out how much you could potentially pay for home and contents insurance, you can get your quote through our comparison service.

Do insurance companies deny fire claims?

Whether an insurer accepts your claim for fire damage usually depends on the details of the incident. Generally, burn damage from flames is covered, but many insurance providers don’t cover scorching, melting, smoke or soot damage where there is no flame.

Some providers may cover smoke or soot damage where there was no fire under accidental damage cover, which is typically an optional extra that you can add to your policy for an increased premium. This could then cover accidents, for example, in the kitchen where a scorched benchtop is a result of setting down a hot pan on the bench.

Is arson included in fire cover?

If someone attempts to set fire to your house deliberately, this is covered under home and contents insurance in the same way that vandalism and other types of malicious damage are. However, if you or a house guest starts the fire (either deliberately or through intentionally reckless/illegal acts), this is likely not covered.

Am I covered if I accidentally start a fire?

If you start a fire by accident, you can be covered by home and contents insurance. Whether you put the candle too close to the curtains, you have a cooking disaster or firepit night goes wrong, most home and contents insurance covers flame damage caused by accidents.

If there are other types of fire damage, like scorching or melting but there was no flame, this may fall under accidental damage cover if you have this option added to your policy.

Do I need insurance for fire damage if I’m renting?

Renters can get contents insurance that will cover their belongings from a range of events, including fires. If you’re renting, you don’t need to insure the structure of the home as it’s not your property; that is your landlord’s responsibility.

What if my smoke alarms are faulty or out of battery?

If your smoke alarms aren’t maintained, your home may not be following your state or territory’s building legislation, and this means your insurance claim could be denied. It’s vitally important that your home complies with the rules of your state.

Stephen Zeller, General Manager

Tips on preventing and handling fire damage from our home insurance expert, Stephen Zeller

  1. Keeping your yard well-maintained can help reduce the risk of damage from a bushfire. Remove dead branches and keep the grass around your home cut low; dispose of the clippings too, as these can be sources of fuel for a fire. Likewise, keep your gutters clear of dead leaves and twigs.
  2. Inside the home, make sure you’re practicing safe habits with fires. Don’t leave candles unattended or near curtains. Keep your heaters away from bedding, tablecloths and anything flammable. Check your appliances regularly and make sure you’re not overloading your power points.
  3. Consider taking photos of your belongings and having a digital backup saved somewhere so that if you do experience a fire, you have photos to help you sort out what needs replacing.
  4. Test your smoke alarms at least every 12 months to make sure they’re functioning properly. Replace the smoke alarm batteries if needed so you have vital warning if a fire starts in the home.

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Compare home and contents cover options with ease to ensure you have fire damage covered. Our comparison service makes it easy to weigh up a range of insurance policies by price, benefits, excess, exclusions and more.

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