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Is responsibility for a fire a reason to deny an insurance claim?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2023 | Property Damage Insurance Claims |

There are many ways that Texas homeowners could cause fire damage to their property. Sometimes, people forget that they have dessert or dinner in the oven when an emergency occurs. They leave the house to assist a family member or friend, and the food catches fire. Other times, people might fall asleep with a cigarette in their hands or may walk out of a room where they have a candle burning, only to have a pet knock it over onto the carpet.

There are countless scenarios in which a homeowner might unintentionally contribute to a fire that damages their property. Sometimes, homeowners insurance companies try to blame property owners and then deny them coverage when they want to rebuild after a fire.

Is responsibility for a house fire a legal justification to deny a homeowner’s insurance claim?

Intent, not fault, matters the most

A surprising number of homeowners in Texas and elsewhere believe the unfortunate myth that causing a house fire keeps someone from using homeowners insurance to pay for the damage. Thankfully, that is typically not the case. The vast majority of house fires in the United States have very banal explanations that often relate to poor decisions or oversights on the part of the people occupying a dwelling. Homeowners insurance companies typically need to cover fires caused by unattended candles, cigarettes and cooking catastrophes.

The only scenario in which the insurance company has a justification to deny coverage over an owner’s fault would be if there is reason to believe the fire was intentional. Insurance companies that can show a policyholder set the fire intentionally could potentially refuse to pay for the damage to the structure or construction of a new home.

The homeowner needs to have intended to damage the property to become ineligible for the coverage they purchased. Otherwise, the insurance company should uphold its policy even if it blames the property owner for the conflagration. It can be difficult to work with an insurance company that wants to avoid a sizable claim or blame a policyholder for an incident that has caused them nothing but inconvenience and emotional distress.

Seeking legal guidance to better understand the rules that apply to insurance claims after a fire may help people obtain the coverage they need and deserve.