PRESS RELEASE

Playing with fire: LV= GI predicts increase in fire related accidents as last winter was scorcher 

  • Claims linked to fireplaces increased by 125% last December, accounting for 36% of all fire related claims
  • With the cost of gas soaring, LV= GI predicts another increase in fire accidents as consumers look for an alternative way to heat their home 
  • The general insurer provides top tips for homeowners ahead of the festive season  

LV= General Insurance (LV= GI), one of the largest home insurers in the UK, is warning consumers to take care in the coming months, predicting an increase in fire related claims. The advice comes as LV= GI data1 shows accidents relating to open fires increased by 125% in December 2020 compared to the previous year. With nights closing in and high energy prices leaving some homeowners reluctant to turn on their central heating, the insurer has raised concerns that there could be a surge in fireplace mishaps this winter.

Fire damage caused by open fires is most likely to happen in December, as families look to bring festive cheer and warmth into their living rooms. With many families in their own homes last Christmas, accidents reached the highest point seen in the last five years, with open fires accounting for 36% of all fire claims in December compared to just 13% in 2019. Shockingly, there were also 286 fire-related fatalities in Great Britain during 2019/2022.

On average, claims relating to fire damage caused by an open fire are around £10,000, and in the last few weeks alone LV= GI has received 12 involving open fires, all of which range in severity, from a log burner flue blockage, ignition of soot and tar deposits within the chimney to hot coal falling out of a log burner. 

It’s not just open fires that can cause fire related incidents, and for those who don’t have a fireplace or log burner, many may switch to a cheaper electric heater this winter. However, these too can cause significant fires when placed too close to combustible materials and left unattended, or if the heater is old, faulty or switched on for a long period of time. 

Martin Milliner, Claims Director at LV= General Insurance comments: “As nights draw in and temperatures drop, many of us will want to heat up our homes to stay warm. This year, with concerns about higher energy prices, even more people might be convinced to huddle around an open fire or use an electric heater to keep warm. Just be sure not to leave anything unattended as fires can spiral out of control very quickly and have a devastating impact on people’s lives and homes. We really want to make sure everyone stays safe this winter and maintaining a fireplace at home is essential.”

LV= General Insurance shares its top safety tips for maintaining a fireplace in the home:  

1. Keep chimneys and flues well maintained:
get your chimney cleaned and inspected to ensure it’s in good working order before lighting your fire.

2. Get the pro to help: if recommissioning a fireplace seek professional guidance and use a qualified HETAS installer - they’ll check the chimney is suitable and will be insured if something goes wrong.

3. Use the right kind of fuel: make sure to use dry wood with a moisture content of less than 20% and be sure not to overload your grate.

4. Make sure to always use a fire guard: Avoid rogue sparks by having a fireguard in place. If you have children or pets, an additional safety guard is also advised. 

5. Avoid cluttering the surrounding area: Make sure not to have elaborate decorations on your fireplace in case they catch fire. It’s also important not to dry or air clothes close to the fire.   

6. Check the fireplace before bed: Make sure embers are properly put out before you go to bed or leave the house.   

For further information:

Natasha King
Senior Press Officer, General Insurance
07443 237651

NOTES TO EDITORS: 

1 LV= General Insurance Home insurance claims data from 2017 to 2021
2 Fire-related fatalities in Britain 2020 - Statista