Q

Does having a fireplace impact home insurance?

A

Homeowners insurance covers fire damage, but certain wood burning fireplaces and stoves pose an increased risk to your home and could make it difficult to obtain coverage with some companies.

There’s nothing like lounging by a fireplace in the dead of winter, temperatures rising while you enjoy a good book or warm beverage. But a poorly-maintained fireplace can make it more difficult to get home insurance, and could pose a significant risk to your home and health.

Standard homeowners insurance covers damage from fire and smoke, including accidental fires caused by chimney fires and fireplaces, but wood-burning fireplaces and stoves pose an increased risk to your home, which could mean higher insurance rates or lead to difficulty obtaining coverage. The exact amount of any possible surcharge could depend on the type and quality of fireplace in your home.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Homeowners insurance covers fire and smoke damage caused by fireplaces

  • Having a fireplace or wood burning stove in your home can affect your home insurance rates due to the heightened risk of accidental house fires

  • If fire and smoke damage aren’t covered by your homeowners insurance, you may be able to get fire insurance through a FAIR (Fair Access to Insurance Requirements) Plan

Does having a fireplace increase home insurance?

If your home has a built-in fireplace, your insurance premiums may be affected. Whether your rates will go up will depend on your insurer and the type of fireplace you own.

When insurance companies are determining your insurance premium, they will consider multiple factors, including the location, build, size, and age of your home, as well as your credit score and deductible amount.

Along with the condition of your roof, HVAC unit, and other key parts of the home, your fireplace could also taken into consideration when determining your coverage eligibility or rates.

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Fireplace safety: what you need to know

You can minimize the risks of fireplace-related hazards by maintaining it and having it inspected to make sure it’s structurally sound. Here are a few things you should keep in mind in order to keep your home safe and your fireplace in good condition:

Some fireplaces are safer than others

The United States Fire Administration estimates that every year, over 4,000 fires are caused by wood-burning stoves. Additionally, wood-burning stoves are responsible for 150 deaths per year from carbon monoxide poisoning, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Gas-burning fireplaces pose less of a risk to your home and health — and generally cost less to insure — than wood-burning fireplaces. Meanwhile, electric fireplaces, which are essentially fireplaces without fire, may not affect your home insurance rates at all.

You should clean your fireplace at least once a year

The U.S. Fire Administration also recommends that you hire a licensed professional to inspect and clean your fireplace once a year. Many issues can arise from a fireplace or chimney in need of necessary repairs including:

  • Cracks in your chimney, which might allow birds or rodents to come in and make nests

  • Creosote, or fuel that has not fully burned, can build up and pose a number of health risks like eye irritation and seizures, and it can also cause your chimney to catch fire

  • Chimney swifts, little cigar-shaped birds that live in sooty environments, may leave droppings in your chimney that can cause respiratory infection when inhaled

A well-maintained chimney lowers your chances of experiencing these health risks and better prepares it for your home insurance inspection. If your fireplace is in poor condition, that could make it more difficult to pass your inspection and obtain homeowners insurance.

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Property and Casualty Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an insurance editor at Policygenius in New York City, specializing in auto and home insurance. She's been writing about insurance, finance and financial planning since 2018, and loves helping readers get the knowledge they need to make financial decisions with confidence. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

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