Don't let it burn

LIFESTYLE | November 2016

Did you know – it can take just 30 seconds for a small flame to become an out-of-control fire, and minutes for thick, black smoke to fill a home. In a study conducted by State in 2015, house fires were New Zealander’s second most worried about insurance incidents, behind having a car accident; which isn’t surprising considering the devastation fire can cause.

In the last five years, State Insurance has had over 2,000 claims lodged for house fires or damage caused by fire. Along with kitchen disasters and electricity issues as the usual fire starters – there are a number of unassuming assailants that wreck havoc in homes:

Pumps and appliances

Whether they were for pools, water, heat, air or sewerage – pumps caused problems. Some claims of up to $25,000 were paid out for pump related fires, and over 80% were between $1,000 and $5,000.

You wouldn’t think appliances like dishwashers and washing machines would be trouble either, but there were at least four instances of claims that amounted to $100,000 or more.

Here are some things you can do to keep your pumps and appliances safe:

  • Check them regularly for signs of wear and tear, rust, and other issues. This includes inspecting wiring for fraying or ageing
  • Have a certified technician service the pump/system as per its user manual
  • In a storm or whenever there’s lightning, disconnect and turn off to protect from power surges
  • Regularly replace/clean filters

In the Kitchen

Cooking and kitchen incidents made up 30% of all fire-related claims in the past five years, with 5% of those costing $100,000 or more.

  • Installing smoke detectors in bedrooms, living areas and hallways
  • Keeping an eye on anything cooking in the kitchen and keeping cooking areas clean of food wrappers, tea towels or sponges/cleaning rags
  • Having a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and garage/shed
  • Disposing of ashes properly – place in a metal bucket/container, wet and place outside, away from anything flammable to let them cool before disposal
  • Supervising candles and open fires – ensure they are put out or safely contained before leaving the house or going to bed
  • Ensuring ovens, irons, cook tops and other appliances are switched off before leaving the house or going to bed

Though the majority of fire-related claims since 2011 have cost between $1,000 and $10,000 each – that’s a lot of money when you think about the amount of damage and heartache that would have been inflicted by often preventable scenarios.

Make sure your home and contents are comprehensively insured – and don’t forget to properly calculate your sum insured - this is the cost of what it would be to completely rebuild your home.

Check out State’s Home and Contents insurance for more information.

Our phone lines are much busier than usual, so there may be a long wait.

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