In certain US states you need to opt-in to the fire service — what can we learn about the value of having insurance?

There are certain pillars of a functioning society that you expect to be there for you: the police when you’ve been a victim of a crime; an ambulance when you suffer a serious injury; and the fire service when your home is on fire.

It might shock you to learn that in the US, the fire service is no longer guaranteed to come to your rescue. In many US states, emergency services now charge an emergency response fee if the fire service has attended an incident at your home. 

In others, the fire department charge an advance fire subscription fee for emergency protection.

It presents a rather unique issue for US citizens that we luckily don’t have to face in the UK. It also highlights the importance of thinking ahead and having insurance for if the worst happens.

Read on to learn about what US fire service policy can teach us about the value of having insurance.

A Tennessee family was taught a brutal lesson when disaster struck

In Fulton City, Tennessee, a backyard barrel fire soon spread to engulf a house in flames.

Paulette and Gene Cranick’s grandson had started the fire in a burn barrel outside the couple’s home, adding trash to the barrel, before deciding to head inside to have a shower.

A few minutes later, the fire had jumped to an adjacent shed before spreading throughout the household.

The fire department arrived on the scene, but because the Cranicks hadn’t paid their $75 fire service subscription fee, the fire fighters refused to intervene and shut off their hoses. 

The Cranick’s neighbours tried to get the fire fighters to comply, even offering them thousands of dollars to perform their duties. But ultimately, the house was burned to ash and the Cranicks lost all their worldly possessions, as well as three dogs and a cat — their cherished family pets.

Many residents debated whether the fire fighters acted properly and if it was morally just to let a fire rage when they were perfectly capable of stopping it. However, others implied that the Cranicks had created the dilemma themselves by not paying their dues.

It is easy to say in the aftermath of any disaster that having some form of insurance at the time would have been beneficial. But actually, opting to pay for it beforehand might not be so simple. 

The cost of living crisis may force Britons to cut their insurance policies to save money

In the UK, millions of Britons are facing up to the hardships of a cost of living crisis that has forced them to tighten their household budgets and assess potential cuts. 

For many, insurance might seem non-essential, and a means of throwing good money after the possibility of a bad day that may never come, leaving it in the firing line for potential cuts.

This is probably the wrong mindset to have when discussing the importance of insurance. 

Insurance is potentially most important during volatile periods in which the future is full of unknowns and disaster could strike at any time. 

A downturn in your health because of stress, a sudden injury from overexerting yourself, an unexpected redundancy leaving you out of work, or a million other factors may suddenly leave you wishing you had the right insurance in place to protect you and your family’s interests.

In the case of the Cranicks, the $75 fee might have been a difficult expense to accommodate for their household, but the cost of having not paid it turned out to be far greater.

Advantages and disadvantages of having homeowner’s insurance

There are various forms of insurance that you will want to consider for different aspects of your life such as contents, life, travel, income protection, pet, car, and homeowners.

Homeowner’s insurance, in particular, is essential in making sure your home is protected should the worst happen.

The key advantages are:

  • You’ll be covered for significant damage should an accident occur such as a fire within your home. The level of coverage is likely to be more than you’d typically be able to cover out-of-pocket.
  • The deductibles are relatively low compared to potential repair costs. Extensive repairs to your home after an accident could cost upwards of hundreds of thousands of pounds, while any deductibles on your plan are likely to be substantially less.
  • It can protect you from lawsuits and other issues. If someone were to sustain an injury on your property, the resulting costs would likely fall under your homeowner’s insurance policy.

Some disadvantages of homeowner’s insurance:

  • The cost can be prohibitive and the premiums that would need to be paid each month can put an extra strain on household budgets.
  • Home insurance policies don’t necessarily cover everything that may be damaged in an accident. Certain types of damage, such as that caused by storms or floods, may not be covered. Also, your household contents may need a separate policy.
  • The terms and conditions may hide various additional costs of home insurance that policy holders are unaware of because they are buried in the fine print of the policy. 

Insurance is an essential expense that needs to be considered in detail, as the benefits of having the right policies in place can literally be life-changing. If you’re considering making a cut in the short term, consider the story of the Cranicks before making any big decisions. 

Get in touch

As with all key financial decisions, it may be beneficial to gain professional advice on the subject before making your final choices. 

If you’d like to discuss insurance options and how you can make sure your plan accounts for their associated costs, please contact us at or call us on 0345 505 3500. 

Please note

This article is no substitute for financial advice and should not be treated as such. To determine the best course of action for your individual circumstances, please contact us.