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Working in law enforcement or as an EMT means that you may very well end up saving someone’s life over the course of your career. This is one of the most altruistic acts that a person can perform, but unfortunately, like many other things in the world that we live in, it can be marred by litigation.
Far too many firefighters end up having to fight court cases against the very people that they were trying to save. Insurance can help ensure that you don’t end up spending inordinate amounts of money on settlements and trying to defend yourself when you were just trying to do the right thing.
To clear up some of the misconceptions about firefighter insurance, we’ve gone ahead and put together this comprehensive guide to this kind of coverage. We’ll explain the various forms of fireman insurance, how much you can expect your coverage to cost you, and we’ll look at some of the best insurance carriers out there.
Also read: Fire Alarm Business Insurance for Installers: Cost & Quotes From $11
When looking for professional or volunteer firefighter insurance, most opt to get general liability coverage because it applies to a wide array of problematic situations. Firefighter general liability insurance provides the money to settle a personal injury claim. But still, the policy goes further than this. Aside from settlement, a firefighter can also use his general liability insurance to fund attorney fees and other legal costs. In addition, depending on the carrier, a general liability coverage won’t only take care of personal injury claims but also slander and advertising wrongs,
Firefighters don’t only cause injuries by making people slip or fall. In fact, this situation doesn’t happen frequently despite being the most used reason as to why general liability insurance is helpful. Using various online sources, we compiled a list of practical and real situations where general liability can greatly help:
|A man named Nick Otter was driving fast, crossed the centerline of the curve he was driving on, and slammed to the rear of a firetruck. Nick Otter suffered some serious injuries because of the accident and needed hospitalization.||Sued the firefighter in charge of driving the firetruck for $300,000. However, the court only demanded a sum of $47,000 as payment to the plaintiff’s daughter and attorney. The insurance company of the firefighter shouldered the payment of the settlement.|
|Adriana Cazares filed a lawsuit against Frank R. Rand for allegedly posting a photo of his dead brother on social media with defamatory captions.||Unknown|
|Collin Cavanagh and Rosa Myers faced a lawsuit accusing them of manslaughter after running the firetruck on the road even when the red light was on and killed a 63-year-old woman in the process.||Unknown|
|Kyle Vess, the plaintiff, was not of sound mind and was restrained by the defendant, Brad Cox, after allegedly trying to light the grass on fire. The lawsuit resulted from the fact that the defendant manhandled the plaintiff while keeping him down.||The plaintiff requested a settlement of $200,000 for damages. However, the court only requested the defendant to pay $100,000.|
|Jake Szymanski filed a lawsuit against a volunteer firefighter, Tyler Rogala, for disclosing private information about him at a party.||The lawsuit demanded Rogala to pay $200,000 for unnecessary stress, emotional distress, anxiety, fear, and embarrassment.|
|Relatives of a man, who died while waiting for an ambulance in the District of Columbia on a day when dozens of firefighters called in sick, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the city's Fire and EMS Department.||Demanded a $12 million settlement from the defendants.|
|Local firefighters all faced a lawsuit from a Detroit homeowner after taking a casual photo in front of a burning house on New Year’s Eve||Unknown|
|A firefighter faced a lawsuit after allegedly stealing a foot from an emergency scene.||Faced a 6-month suspension and had to pay an unspecified amount for damages|
|Firefighters, Daniel Bowens and Joe Wimmer faced a lawsuit accusing them of failing to exercise due care that resulted in mental anguish, inconvenience, medical expenses, and litigation costs to the plaintiff||The mount, which the defendants paid, is unknown|
Public liability coverage is a policy that’s usually endorsed as an additional coverage to general liability insurance. There are also carriers who offer this as a stand-alone policy. Whether stand-alone or additional option, public liability coverage works the same way. It provides protection for claims arising from the public when firefighters cause damage. Below are some example situations:
Forced entry - firefighters have to trespass someone's property without asking for permission to reach the source of the fire
Collateral damage - firefighters have to destroy a door, a window, or any other part of the building to reach a fire or rescue someone stuck inside
As to what extent firefighters are publicly liable for the damage caused while working? In most cases, firefighters don’t have to answer for any damage caused by any reasonable action circumstances required. For example, a homeowner can’t sue firefighters for destroying the fence of their house when it’s blocking and stopping the firemen from using a fire hose efficiently.
In truth, most firefighters in the United States don’t have to worry about facing public liability because they possess tort immunity that state laws grant. However, this doesn’t apply to all firefighters. For example, firefighters in Rhode Island can easily face public liability claims demanding a maximum penalty of $100,000.
According to research , 67 out of 249 firefighters experience a work-related injury. From this, 55 out of 67 stated they experienced one injury while working. In addition, 8 out of 67 said they have suffered two injuries and 3 out of 67 reported they experienced three injuries.
It’s also important to point out that most firefighters opted to file a worker’s compensation claim. A valid explanation for this is that worker’s comp insurance easily provides coverage that firefighters sustain compared to other insurance, which can also provide coverage such as health insurance and employer’s liability insurance.
The report of the National Institute of Standards gives us an idea about the causes of injuries to firefighters, which are:
Causes leading to injuries which contribute to lost days at work
Other causes of injuries
Slippery and uneven surface
Worker’s compensation can have death benefits, which the family can use if the firefighter dies because of work. The cause of death of firemen is an interesting matter to explore. To provide answers, we conducted a quick study using 585 firefighter death reports from 1954 - 2019. The table below summarizes the results:
Leading Cause of Death of Firefighters
|Cause of Death||Percentage (in 585 reports reviewed)|
Let’s talk about the specifics of our findings briefly. From the reports we reviewed, a feature that we kept noticing is that cardiac arrest happens to firefighters not only while they’re putting out the fire (though this is the primary cause) but also while they’re:
Attending training to increase their rank in the organization and get further skills
Exercising in the fire station
After responding to a fire alarm
The second leading cause of death is the fireground, to be specific, the place where firefighters are combating a fire breakout which could be the wilderness, a residential building, a commercial property, etc. The majority of firefighters that die because of this are volunteer firefighters and on-call firefighters.
The third is a road accident, and we’ll expound on this in the next section. Let’s skip and go to the fourth cause which is structure collapse. Structure collapse is a significant factor that causes deaths for firefighters. This is because fires can quickly cause structures to degrade, such as roofing, walls, flooring, etc. So, why do firefighters die because of structure collapse? Most casualties were either struck by something, got trapped, or got lost inside the building. During a firefight, firefighters are susceptible because it’s easy to overlook the failing condition of a building.
We have heart attacks as the last most common cause of death of firefighters. Just like cardiac arrest, this usually happens while responding to an emergency, attending training, or exercising.
To repeat, we discovered in our review of 585 casualty reports that road accidents are one of the leading causes of firefighter deaths. The majority of the reports state these specific types of road accidents killing firefighters:
Being struck by another car while responding to a road emergency scene
Crashing the firetruck with another vehicle
Car accidents involving firefighters don’t only end up in minor injuries. And so, it’s a must that you get firefighter car insurance such as auto-liability insurance and personal injury protection insurance, which is part of commercial auto coverage for firefighters
Auto insurance for firefighters will mitigate costs for accidents that you might cause. This isn’t far from happening, especially if you’re driving the fire truck and rushing to get to the fire scene. On the other hand, personal injury protection insurance will help answer hospitalization costs for the injuries you sustain from a road accident.
A fire department already has an auto insurance policy in its fire department insurance providing coverage for its volunteer and professional firefighters. However, it’s best to get your own coverage to enjoy faster claims processing. There’s also the issue of not getting covered when you need the insurance of your organization the most. And getting your own commercial auto insurance for firefighters will help solve this.
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To make sure that you have a better idea of how much it costs to get firefighter insurance, we’ve gathered the following info. The numbers on the table below represent how much it costs for a $1 million general liability policy for firefighters. We’ve chosen to limit ourselves to a single policy type to keep the numbers somewhat uniform.
|Company||Cost per month||Cost per year|
Firefighter insurance is not cheap. We won’t sugarcoat or deny this fact. Still, you have to avail of it even if it means adding more burden to your budget. Why? According to a study published in the American Health Conference , uninsured firefighters pay an amount equal to 53% of total insurance premiums. This means that if the annual cost of premiums is $1,840 and there’s no coverage in effect, you’ll have to pay $959.30 for every work-related injury. With that being said, don't think twice about getting firefighter insurance as it won't be very expensive because of firefighter insurance discounts.
Finding the best insurance policy for firefighters isn’t always as simple as it may seem at first glance. This is because there are countless carriers that you can work with, and each of them has their own quirks and practices that set them apart from the other companies that they’re competing against.
To ensure that finding your insurer is as easy as possible, we’ve gone ahead and gathered up three of the top firefighter insurance companies out there. We’ll start off by looking at their history before getting into the details of their policies, their pros and cons, and the average cost of insurance from them.
The Hartford is known for being one of the longest-lasting insurance companies out there, and the company gets its name from the city in which it’s based, Hartford, Connecticut. The company is notable for having survived some of the worst disasters to befall the United States (and some of its clients).
The Hartford covers firefighters under its Volunteer Firefighter and First Responder Insurance program. They offer coverage like income protection in the event of disabilities, indemnity in case of loss of life, limb, or senses, and medical care coverage. The Hartford also offers some firefighter insurance discounts to members of specific departments or branches.
Slow quote process
Average cost : $143
Best for : Firehouse insurance having extensive medical coverage
Our rating : 5/5
VFIS stands for Volunteer Firemen’s Insurance Services Inc., and they were one of the first companies in America to account for the unique needs of America’s firefighters, both volunteer and otherwise. The company has been working hard since 1969 to meet these needs, and they’ve done a stellar job of it thus far.
VFIS offers a wide range of insurance products catering directly to firefighters, including accident and sickness coverage, general liability insurance, commercial auto coverage, and property insurance. They also offer group term life insurance and specialty benefits to their clients.
Caters specifically to firefighters
Experts in their field
A bit pricey
Average cost : $157
Best for : Volunteer firefighters
Our rating : 4/5
Provident has been in business since 1902, but the company only started serving the exclusive needs of firefighters in 1928. They first started by providing accident and health insurance policies to firefighters but they expanded their coverage to include heart and illness coverage in 1962.
Provident has a variety of insurance programs that cover the specific needs of firefighters, including their FirePlus program which offers comprehensive coverage. This program comes with property, commercial auto, casualty, liability, and optional insurance types that are designed to meet the needs of firefighters for a reasonable price.
FirePlus program contains everything you need
Optional insurance including group term life insurance
First Responder Assistance Program helpline
Average cost : $160
Best for : Complete coverage
Our rating : 5/5
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