Insuring your property against fire damage

Fire damage is one of the most common insurance policy claims in the UK, with fires in domestic homes and business premises occurring frequently. Government statistics show that the fire and rescue services attended around 162,000 fires in England during 2015/16.

Protecting your property against fire is of the utmost importance, especially in light of the recent Grenfell Tower disaster. And making sure you are adequately protected with your insurance, should the unfortunate happen, must be an important consideration when choosing your insurance. Here are the key things you need to consider.

Comply with the conditions in your policy

As we pointed out in our blog on buildings and contents insurance, it’s important to ensure you have adequate cover for your property and that you’re not under- or over-insured.

Most home insurance policies will cover you for fire damaging your property and possessions, but take care to check that you are complying with all the conditions contained within your policy. If you don’t, and you suffer fire damage, your insurer is likely to reject your claim. Read your policy carefully so that you understand what you are insured for and that you are happy that the cover meets your needs.

Install fire or smoke detectors

Many insurance policies will give you a discount if your property has fire detectors or smoke alarms fitted. A fire that is caught early has a greater chance of being put out before too much damage is done – and this could save lives.

However, if you say that your property has fire detectors, you must carry out regular checks to ensure that they are in good working order. If they are not working at the time of a fire, your insurance company may well reduce any pay out or even refuse to pay it.

To help you remember to test your fire detectors, sign up to the Fire Safety Advice Centre’s free smoke alarm reminder service.

 Tell your insurer about home improvements

Have you had, or are you planning to have, building work done to your home, such as an extension? If so, make sure you that you have told your insurance company and updated your policy cover to reflect this. If a fire happens during or after the works and you haven’t told your insurance company, they will more than likely refuse a claim. Additions or changes to properties can increase the insurance risk and also affect the cost of rebuilding, so it is important to ensure your policy reflects the property it covers.

While the work is taking place, have fire extinguishers available on site and check daily for any potential fire hazards – especially at the end of the day when workers have gone home and the building area is likely to be empty and unmanned. For example, make sure that flammable materials are correctly stored, ideally in steel containers, and that rubbish is cleared away every day.  

Do you live with a smoker?

Insurance companies nearly always ask if a smoker lives in the property that is to be insured. If you have said there isn’t but the situation then changes – i.e. a smoker moves in – you must remember to update your policy. If there is a fire in the property, whether or not it has been caused by smoking, your policy could be deemed invalid and any claim denied. If there is a smoker in your property, they must take responsibility for ensuring that cigarettes are completely extinguished.

Requirements for businesses

If you have business premises, The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 requires you to carry out a fire risk assessment, including measures to reduce or eliminate the risk of fire, and identify persons at risk. If you have 5 or more employees, you must keep a record of significant findings.

See the fire safety in the workplace official guidance on www.gov.uk for more information and help in conducting a fire risk assessment.

For more information on how to protect your property from fire, see the Fire Safety Advice Centre or seek advice from your local fire brigade.

Sarrani are experts in property insurance repairs. We understand how devastating fire damage can be and we are equipped to help you navigate your property insurance claims and repair the damage. For more information on how we can help, email us or call us on 020 3006 3126.