If you have ever read the insurance policy for your home or rental property, you probably ran head-first into the terms "hazard," "peril," or "cause of loss." These are events that are covered by your insurance. This three-part article explains these terms.
Fire–Fire has been defined by the courts as "combustion sufficient enough to produce a spark, flame or glow." By definition, a fire is not smoke or charring. A fire must produce a spark, flame or glow. And not all fires are covered under the fire peril. Over the years, the courts have distinguished between "friendly" and "hostile" fire. A friendly fire is one that burns where it was intended to burn: a flame on a gas stove; a fire in a fireplace; fire in an outdoor grill.
A hostile fire is one that burns where it was not intended to burn: the kitchen drapes; the rug by the fireplace; a tree near the outdoor grill. Only direct damage caused by hostile fire (including smoke from a hostile fire) is covered by the fire peril.
Lightning–Lightning is "naturally generated electricity from the atmosphere." Damage covered by the lightning peril may be the result of lightning itself or the result of a fire caused by the lightning.
With regard to lightning, there is rarely a coverage problem for direct strikes. The other common cause of lightning loss is the surge of electricity, typically caused by lightning striking power company equipment. Appliances in a house can be damaged by the electrical surge. The cause must be established for coverage to apply. A surge from malfunction of power company equipment, or a short circuit, would not qualify.
Explosion–In basic or stripped-down policies, explosion refers to any explosion that occurs within a structure that is covered by a given policy. However, several types of explosive events are usually excluded such as:
Windstorm–The peril of windstorm involves damage caused by direct action of the wind, including high winds, cyclones, tornadoes and hurricanes. Windstorm coverage primarily covers wind damage to a building's exterior, but will also cover interior damage if the wind breaches the exterior (causes a hole or opening in a wall or roof).
Winds must reach sufficient velocity to have caused direct damage at more than one location to establish a "windstorm" loss. However, leakage through an aging roof during heavy rain is not a basis for a windstorm claim. The windstorm peril does not cover loss to the following property when located outside of the insured building: awnings, signs, radio or television antennas or aerials including wiring, masts or towers; canoes and rowboats; lawns, plants, shrubs or trees.
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