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When your neighbour's house suddenly catches fire

Fireworks are indeed nice to look at but they can have devastating consequences if not handled properly. Jan Mannhart, Head of Liability / Bodily Injury at Helvetia, knows what precautions we should take and what insurance we can take out to protect ourselves in case something does go wrong in spite of our precautions.

20 December 2017, author: Sarah Büchel, photo: iStock

Sparks fly out of a firework rocket. In the background, we can see the night sky illuminated by fireworks.
A beautiful sight and a fire hazard: A firework rocket can briefly generate temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Celsius.

Tons of fireworks are shot into the sky every year in Switzerland. An average of 250 people are injured in the process. And on top of that there is five million Swiss francs worth of property damage to spoil the festive mood.

Better safe than sorry

To avoid hazardous situations from the outset, it is advisable to take the following precautions:
• Read the instructions on the firework
• Always light your fireworks at the correct safety distance from buildings, animals and people.
• Light fireworks on a stable surface
• Have extinguishers ready to hand
• Keep children away
• Do not smoke
• Never relight duds and do not approach them for ten minutes

If, in spite of all your precautions, something does catch fire or there is damage, the following normally applies: The person who lights the firework is liable for the damage.

Liability insurance is essential

With private liability insurance, you can protect yourself against the financial consequences when the damage to another person or his/her goods and chattels is added. In principle, damage is covered by the buildings, car, contents or accident insurance of the injured party. However, these insurers will seek recourse against the persons causing the damage. As a result, their liability insurance policy will pay the costs incurred and protect them from some horrendous bills. "Private liability insurance is one of the most important insurance policies for private individuals. It protects against serious financial consequences,” says Jan Mannhart, Head of Liability / Bodily Injury at Helvetia.

Beware of short-cuts!

If you don't follow the precautions listed here, you run the risk that the insurance company will classify the incident as gross negligence and cut your benefits. If you cause damage deliberately, it will completely refuse to pay. This is the case, for example, when someone shoots a firework deliberately at a building or a person.

Jan Mannhart

Jan Mannhart is Head of Liability / Bodily Injury at Helvetia. He works at the head office in St. Gallen, and has been with Helvetia for almost 20 years.

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