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Wood stoves and homeowner’s insurance

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Could the use of a wood stove in your home or garage result in your homeowner’s insurance denying a fire claim? 

I have been using a wood stove for supplemental heating since we moved in around 1999. I’m on 2 1/2 acres and at least an acre is wood. The wood stove reduces wear on my heater, reduces gas costs and provides a means of getting rid of wood from fallen limbs and trees. It also provides heat in the event of power failures or furnace problems. 

When we installed the stove, we used a local reputable fireplace shop and pulled a permit from the township. 

The other night was was watching a Youtube video with tips for heating with wood. The author mentioned the issue of homeowner’s insurance. I had never given this a thought. I started searching and found that this could be a serious issue.  By serious, I mean that if the stove causes a fire and it was in violation of your homeowner’s insurance policy, the claim could be denied. 

Some insurance companies will not insure a home with a wood stove including, in some cases ANY wood burner such as an outdoor boiler. In many cases, they will not insure additional buildings such as a garage, shed or barn if they are heated with wood. 

It seemed that almost all companies will refuse to cover the home if the stove was self-installed and done without a permit.  Some companies will require an inspection by their inspector. 

There was a case in Canada where a fire claim was denied (But reversed on appeal) because of the presence of a wood stove

I tried to find my policy jacket but couldn’t locate it. My company does not provide that online. I called on a Sunday and spoke with a rep. Since the stove was installed by a pro and I had a permit for it, they told me that it wasn’t a problem. That was a huge relief. They didn’t ask for any proof, but in the event of a claim, I would guess that I would have to provide the appropriate proof. 

As an added bonus, she reviewed my policy and I was able to save about $250/year. 

Tips:

  • If you install a stove, use a reputable company and go through the permit process 
  • Keep ALL paperwork for the installation and permit as well as receipts for your annual chimney cleanings. I scan everything to the cloud (As well as other backups).
  • Keep a record of your utility bills. Some companies take issue with using wood as your primary heat. In my case I have records of my gas bills which clearly show that is my primary heat source. 

Don’t guess as to your coverage. Check with your insurance provider.

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