A longtime, extremely popular summer rite is to enjoy setting off fireworks, especially around the 4th of July. However, it’s important to think before striking a match or using a lighter on your first firecracker, sparkler, smoke-bomb, bottle rocket or other forms of incendiary entertainment. For all their fun, fireworks are capable of causing serious injuries to persons and substantial damage to property. Such losses can have substantial financial consequences, so it’s important to know whether you are insured in the event you cause a fireworks accident.
Imagine you are setting off some fireworks in your driveway for your children and their friends. Suddenly, a sparkler you gave to a neighbor’s child violently flares up, burning her hand and face.
While setting off some bottle rockets, one smashes through a window of a house across the street. The rocket sets the home’s living room curtains on fire. It then spreads to the carpeting and the room’s furnishings. The local fire department responds, putting out the fire. There are thousands of dollars in damage caused by fire and water.
In the first example, your Homeowners Policy could cover her injuries a couple of ways. If the injuries are minor, her medical treatment could be handled under the Medical Payments portion. However, if the child’s injuries are more serious and her parents sue, your policy’s liability portion should handle your legal defense as well as a legal judgment.
In the latter example, one could be found negligent for causing the fire and subsequent damage. A homeowner’s policy usually handles claims such as these. However, you should also be aware of limitations which will be covered below.
We’ve discussed that a homeowners policy may be available to handle losses involving fireworks. However, this is not always the case as there are instances where your homeowner policy does not offer coverage.
- Legal Issue
If it’s illegal for you to set off fireworks, this legal hurdle could result in any loss being excluded by the policy.
- Business Issue
A homeowner’s policy is meant to handle losses related to owning and living in a home, there’s no coverage for a person who uses their home for making, selling, storing or distributing fireworks. Any business activity involving fireworks is going to cause a big problem if a loss occurs.
- Who Is Injured Issue
Injuries to yourself or others in your household are not covered because Medical Payments and Liability coverage is designed to handle loss suffered by persons outside of your household.
- Intentional Loss Issue
If an injury or damage to property is not an accident, there’s no coverage. Tossing a firecracker or aiming a bottle rocket at another person could be considered deliberate, even when no injury was intended. Deliberate acts and their consequences are commonly excluded by homeowner’s policies.
So when dealing with fireworks, make sure they’re legal, that they’re used carefully and only for entertainment. Then your chances are good that any loss may also be covered.