Well all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is over. The year went out with a bang for my family in more ways than one! On New Year’s Eve, there were several large private fireworks displays in close proximity to our house. Some of the fireworks were large mortars that put on impressive displays that would rival a municipality’s display. It got me thinking if there is coverage provided in standard homeowner’s insurance policies for these types of events.
With all of the different types of coverages available under different types of policies, there is no easy answer to this question. In part, the answer could also depend on the type of incident that occurs (which we hope does not ever occur). If the fireworks set fire to a residence then that peril could be covered by a standard fire policy. Fireworks that malfunction and injure a guest on your property during the display could be covered under the liability section of a homeowner’s insurance policy for medical payments to others. The liability section of the policy could also cover a scenario where the fireworks misfire and break a window of a neighbor’s residence and go inside and cause damage.
Again I am led back to a discussion we had last week about personal umbrella liability policies. This is an area where they could be an important piece of the insurance puzzle to have in place. Particularly for the neighbors near me that put on these very large displays of fireworks the other day. Since there were so many things that could have gone squirrely with those private displays with thousands of dollars spent on the impressive pyrotechnics! A personal umbrella liability policy can protect you after you reach the limits of your standard policy. It may also protect you in areas not covered on your other policies.
Additionally, if you are planning to put on one of these fireworks displays, it is a good practice to discuss your insurance coverage with your agent and ask her or him to point out and explain the sections of your policy that describe your coverage. It would also be suggested to check with the insurance agent to see if there are other insurance products that would be a good idea under the circumstances (like an umbrella). Plan for the worst and hope for the best with those pyrotechnics displays!
As a side note, have you ever wondered whether the private displays of fireworks are ok by the rules and laws of Florida? Florida has an interesting law on the books about the private use of fireworks. If you’ve ever purchased fireworks from a retailer in the State of Florida you likely signed papers that stated you were going to use the fireworks solely for uses permitted by statute and you hold the retailer harmless from any inherent dangers in the pyrotechnics. Here’s what the Florida Statute §791.07 says about permitted use of fireworks (other than by municipalities at certain permitted displays around holidays and celebrations):
Agricultural and fish hatchery use. — Nothing in this chapter shall prohibit the importation, purchase, sale, or use of fireworks used or to be used solely and exclusively in frightening birds from agricultural works and fish hatcheries; and such use shall be governed entirely by the rules prescribed by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
There was lots of bird frightening going on around New Years Eve, and I bet there will be lots more six months from now around the Fourth of July celebrations!