If you contact the fire department, you will be billed a service charge automatically. It’s a myth! So, what’s the real story? Is this charge covered under your insurance policy? See the answer...
Can the fire department bill you for a service charge if your car catches fire?
First, if your vehicle catches fire in the municipality in which you live, you will not have to pay fire department service charges as you already pay them as part of your municipal taxes. However, if the fire occurs in a municipality where you do not live, that municipality may bill you for a service charge for preventing or combatting the fire. This bill can be huge.
Does your auto insurance cover fire department service charges claimed by a municipality?
Luckily, auto insurance policies in Quebec generally cover these charges under the Act respecting Municipal Taxation and its regulations.1
To be covered, your auto insurance policy must include protection for the loss or damages. In other words, it must include the following clauses:
- Under Chapter A, legal liability resulting from damages or injury to a third party (mandatory)
- Under Chapter B, damage to insured vehicles (optional)
For example, if you are responsible for a collision causing a fire, you must have insurance for the damages to your vehicle (Chapter B) to be covered for fire-fighting charges. This also applies to motorcycle and snowmobile insurance (form Q.F.P. No.1).
With respect to home insurance, in most cases, your municipality’s fire department is more likely to attend.
Fire-fighting charges in a municipality in which you do not live, e.g., during a hotel stay, and for which an arrangement is made, will be covered. The amount of these charges will vary, depending on the type of insurance coverage you have.
Generally, the charges will be reimbursed, to a maximum of $1,000, in the event of an insured loss on the premises of your residence. These charges may be higher, depending on your insurance company and the type of home insurance coverage you have.2
1 AUTORITÉ DES MARCHÉS FINANCIERS, F.P.Q. N°1 – Owner’s form
2 URANCE BUREAU OF CANADA (IBC), Quebec Personal Property Form IBC 1503Q