It’s not at all surprising that insurance providers would assess an additional premium for wood burners. Any time there is open fire, the potential for a problem or unwanted fire increases. Add to that fact the possible presence of installations by unskilled do-it-yourselfers and faulty or unrated equipment, and it is obvious that the risk to insurers is higher with wood burners than with other types of heating equipment.
Here are some of the top reasons why having a wood burner may increase insurance premiums:
- Increased risk to insurer. Open fire is always dangerous, even when it is supposed to be confined inside the heater.
- The wood burner is used as a primary heating source. Statistical risks of fire are greater when wood burners are the heating source.
- Improper installation. It is recommended that only a professional installs a wood burner.
- Creosote build-up in chimney. A build-up of creosote in the chimney is ready fuel that can cause a chimney fire and subsequent damage. The EPA recommends that a professional chimney sweep be contracted to do regular chimney cleanings.
- Systems are not Underwriter’s Laboratories approved. UL does extensive safety testing of products and is a reliable approval organization.
- Smoke damage. Potential for smoke damage is increased when a wood burner is used for heating.
- Combustible materials are near the burner. Proper insulation and protection must be provided between the wood burner and the floor, walls or other items that are near to the burner.
Homeowners need to be sure the wood burning device, flues, and chimney assemblies are properly installed and sized for the home and the burner. Even when a wood burner is properly sized, installed and used, the risks of fire remain higher than with other types of heating units.
Some insurance companies will decline insurance coverage for these devices. The amount of increase in premiums will vary by state and insurer; most are fairly reasonable and run from about 5% to 15%.