Heating bills are the largest expense during winter. People often turn to alternative heating sources to heat their homes in winter. If used incorrectly, space heaters or wood burners can cause flames, electric shock, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
The National Fire Protection Association states that supplemental heating devices are responsible for two-thirds of all house fires. Make sure to understand your home insurance policy regarding space heaters and whether you are protected against fires.
Is homeowners insurance able to cover space heaters?
You should be aware of the coverages included in your policy so that you are better prepared for a disaster. Three types of coverage are included in a standard home insurance policy:
- Liability insurance that covers bodily injury suffered by others while you are away from your property
- Homeowners coverage that covers damages to your home
- Personal Property Insurance which covers the loss of personal property within the house
Both personal property and dwelling coverages include house fires. Your coverage limits will dictate how much you get paid for a claim. You will be responsible for the remainder of the costs if the space heater caused the fire. Your insurance company will review the facts and determine if negligence was involved in the incident.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters are responsible for over 25,000 fires each year. This can lead to over 300 deaths. According to the NFPA, 43% residential fires are caused by space heaters. In 2014, property damage from portable heating equipment blazes was approximately $1.3 billion.
Space heater requirements
The supplemental heating device can be used to keep the house warm in cold weather or offset expensive heating bills. Space heaters can cause residential fires, which are reported to cost insurance companies millions of dollars each year. Your insurance rates could rise if you have a space heater installed in your home. Your claim payout may be affected by the material and installation of the heater/wood stove. To ensure fire safety, it is a good idea to have a professional install your heater.
Your insurance company should be notified when you install heaters or wood burners. You are also required to ensure that all safety standards are met, have an Underwriters Laboratories label or Intertek label, and go through regular inspections and checks. Space heaters must be secured to the floor and connected to a wall outlet.
Space heaters can be a great way to add warmth to your home. However, these mistakes can lead to a fire.
- Use an extension cord
- Use an outdated, malfunctioning, or old heater
- Run the cord under a carpet or rug.
- Unattended pets and children are not allowed in the room.
- Place the heater near fabrics or furniture
- Allow the device to breathe
- Overnight heating
Are homeowners’ insurance rates affected by space heaters?
Heating systems can have an impact on your home insurance costs. Your premiums will be affected by the type of heating equipment that you use. However, this impact can vary between companies. This is because the more likely you are to have a fire, the more insurance premiums will increase.
Because central heating systems are powered by natural gas or electricity, they may not affect your insurance costs. They also have a lower chance of starting a fire. Your insurance costs might go up if you use an oil furnace, a wood stove, or a space heater. These risks are often a concern for insurers, as well as the potential damages they may have to cover. Because prices are different across the industry you can speak with your agent or your insurer to learn about the impact on your home insurance premium.
Fire safety discounts
You can save money on your insurance premiums as a homeowner by taking advantage of certain discounts. Your house will be more attractive to your insurance company, which will help you save money on your annual premiums. Some insurers offer price cuts and perks to homeowners who add additional protection to their home, since fires are the most frequent disaster that can affect a property.
If you have the following items installed in your home, you may qualify for fire safety discount
- Sprinklers: A sprinkler system can help you get a discount on your home insurance.
- Fire alarms: Although they are not required, installing them in your home can help you get a discount from your insurance company.
- Fire extinguishers are a must: Having fire extinguishers around your house can be a safety precaution. It also helps to reduce your insurance premium.
- Fire-resistant materials are: A house that is made from fire-resistant materials like concrete, brick or gypsum is considered safer than one made of log or wood and can be eligible for a discount on your home insurance.
How to stop space heater fires
Space heaters can be used properly and are less likely to start a fire. To prevent injuries and to ensure safety, you should follow these safety precautions when using portable heating devices:
- Place the heater on the ground.
- Children and pets should be supervised: Children and pets shouldn’t be left alone near space heaters or wood stoves. Burns can occur and toy with the cord could cause sparks and flames.
- Avoid flammable materials. From paper and bedding to perfumes and sprays to the heater, be sure to keep it away from any material that could catch fire or cause a flame.
- Only plug heater into a wall outlet.
- Look out for automatic shut-off options: Heaters that automatically shut off prevent overheating and increase the chance of starting a fire.
- Make sure the heater is in top condition. Make sure the heater is stored in a dry and cool place when it is not being used.
Safety measures will allow you to use your space heater safely without putting yourself and others at risk. They also save you money and help you avoid an insurance claim.