10th November 2015
The number of fire claims as a result of electrical faults has soared by 29% in the last three years, according to figures from Co-op Insurance.
Given the surge, they now account for almost a quarter, at 23%, of overall fire claims.
Claims analysts at the insurer say that in addition to some of the more traditional causes for electrical faults such as tumble dryers and washing machines other common culprits for these type of fires include electric blankets, in addition to smaller appliances which require chargers such as e-cigarettes and mobile phones.
The amount of technology people have in their homes has vastly increased over recent years, with 1.8m mobile phone chargers being bought online in the UK each year and an estimated 2.6m people now using e-cigarettes – triple the 700,000 tally from 2012.
According to the insurer, the cost of fire damage which can be caused by trying to make short cuts is much more costly in the long-run, and in tragic circumstances can sadly result in loss of life.
On average, Co-op Insurance pays out £14,000 for a fire claim under a buildings insurance policy. Damage to contents caused by fire is worth on average £4,000 and a large loss fire can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds.
Co-op Insurance is warning homeowners to make sure they buy electrical goods from reputable sources and to check that any chargers used are compatible for their device by following the manufacturer’s guidelines. As larger appliances such as washing machines are high powered, people are also being advised to use one plug per socket and not to overload extension cables with multiple appliances.
Jonathan Guy, head of claims at Co-op Insurance, says: “Over the last few years we have seen a surge in fire claims caused by electrical faults, but also a rise in large fire claims as a result of these. Sadly, when it comes to fires, tragic circumstances could often be avoided by following some simple precautionary steps to protect you and your family.
“Fires in homes are among the most costly claims to deal with, as in addition to cosmetic repairs, structural damage to the property may also need to be fixed. If your home becomes uninhabitable as a result of the fire, you may require alternative accommodation, therefore it is important to speak to your insurer and make sure you have the right level of cover in place.”
Lewis Ramsay, the chief fire officers association’s director of prevention, protection, and road safety, added: “In the run up to the Christmas period, I would also urge people who are buying electrical goods as gifts to make sure they comply to the correct British Standards to reduce the likelihood of electrical fires. We are already seeing fires from new – yet increasingly popular – items such as ‘balance boards or hover boards’. We have seen instances where the chargers are supplied with non-standard plugs, leading to fires, which cause thousands of pounds worth of damage.”
Top tips for reducing fire risks in the home: