Home Insurance, Where are we headed ?

Keener Posted By Keener, May 7, 2015 at 2:16 PM

  1. Keener

    Keener
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    May 5, 2015
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    New member and first post so apologies in advance if this appears in the wrong location or upside down.

    Just going through the home insurance renewal thing and finding two things;
    1. Ins companies will not sell a policy for homes with entirely or primarily wood heat, or
    2. Big additional fee and ever higher premiums if they will.
    My question is this: Are we going to reach a point where a person who wants ( and loves ) wood heat will not be able to find an insurer?
     
  2. pen

    pen
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    This seems to be a regional problem for some folks. Where I am, there's no issue at all for wood heat so long as the stove is installed properly and UL approved.
     
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  3. moey

    moey
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    Most folks have some other type of heat that has a dial on it. Even if the dial is never put in the ON position.
     
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  4. Keener

    Keener
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    True about the dial controlled heat. Makes sense to have something that kicks on automatically to save the plumbing in those really cold regions of N. America. Here in S.W British Columbia we would very rarely have a cold snap that would freeze indoor plumbing. This ties in with Pen's comment above in that insurance should be less an issue here than colder climes. I am beginning to suspect an urban verses rural issue. Although if you stepped onto my property (10 acres of trees) you would say it is rural, the greater surrounding area is urban.
    Can I deal with a more "rural" insurance company, hmmmmmm?
     
  5. pen

    pen
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    My buddy has owned 2 homes with entirely wood heat, but they were outside boilers. He had no problems.

    Another only has his wood stove, but had a large enough electric service panel that he was able to add baseboard electric to the home for back-up, unexpected trips out of town, etc. I'll have to ask him if doing that saved him on insurance.

    In all, I can't suggest any companies as I'm not familiar with those in Canada, but would recommend shopping around.
     
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  6. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart
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    In Virginia insurance companies won't insure a home with only wood heat. Since I own this joint I kinda defy them to cancel and they don't seem to want to. They don't have that "we will tell on you to the mortgage company" hammer to hit me with.
     
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  7. DougA

    DougA
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    The OP is Cdn. - that says it all.;lol

    Here's the problem in Canada and some other jurisdictions. Insurance companies do not want to insure higher risk homes since they may actually have a loss. They want to insure good people who will not have a loss. Wood heat is considered 'borderline'. They will insure it if you have the wood heat system inspected by a WETT certified tech. If you pass inspection and the house burns down due to your wood stove, the insurance company then claims the loss from the WETT inspector's insurance. Do you smell a scam???

    So ... you need to install a few electric baseboard heaters which is your 'primary heat'. This should cost under $100. Set them on as low as possible and they should cost zero in hydro but they will come on in an emergency if the wood stove fails and the hydro is still working. Smell another scam??

    Tell the insurance that you burn less than 3 cords of firewood and that your primary heat is electric.

    Problem solved. You owe me a beer - payable next time I'm in BC. Not likely anytime soon.;lol;lol
     
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  8. BrotherBart

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    Or just pay off the joint and tell them to go pound sand like I did.
     
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  9. DougA

    DougA
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    Ahh . .but all those rich insurance people would have to find a real job.o_O
     
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  10. BrotherBart

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    I called the Allstate agent to tell him he was the worst spammer I have and to knock it off. Emails out the wazoo wanting to meet and re-evaluate my coverage. The phone ringing on my birthday with a recording of him and his office staff singing happy birthday did it. Told him that if that happened one more time I am cancelling the house and the cars.
     
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  11. BrotherBart

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    Funny. I retired from Mobil Oil and my SIL retired from Aetna. For years our tradition when we get together has been that she gets the first ten minutes to cuss oil companies and then I get the next ten to cuss insurance companies.

    Then we go to dinner and laugh a lot.
     
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  12. Ashful

    Ashful
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    No trouble with having multiple wood stoves here, but I do believe it would be a problem for the insurance companies if the wood stoves were my ONLY form of heat.
     
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  13. Highbeam

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    And really, I believe that everyone ought to have a backup source of automated heat. Things happen like sickness, emergency travel, stove failure, burn bats, run out of wood, etc.
     
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  14. Keener

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    I'd love to pay off the house and tell the insurance company to jump in the lake. Reality is that unless a box full of cash falls out of the sky, ( just as likely as a lottery win), I will have to deal with them for a while. The problem with putting in some baseboards and telling them it is the primary source of heat is that you give the company a good reason to deny your claim when they investigate. Don't think they make billions by being stupid. I am not sure but it may be that the new smart meters here in B.C can tell not only how much power you use but also what the load is, ie resistance heating.
    I don't mind paying a reasonable premium for the use of the stoves, just wondering what to do when/ if I can't get insurance.
     
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  15. KB007

    KB007
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    +1 - DougA nailed it. In Canada the Ins crooks, er companies want you to have a primary heat source that is not wood. Period. I have a hi eff prop[ane furnace. It gets used about 6 times a year. No issues. Only thing State Farm did was ask for Wett cert for each stove and actually had someone come and take pictures for the LR insert.
     
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  16. billb3

    billb3
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    We could reach a point where a person who wants ( and loves ) ONLY wood heat will not be able to find an insurer .

    Did someone promise you that if you liked your wood stove you could keep your wood stove ?
     
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  17. Jack Fate

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    It would seem that they could refuse to pay a claim if they they could connect it to your wood stove & their policy against them . Not to mention the fact that you are aware of this.

    Just saying
     
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  18. DougA

    DougA
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    My insurer is well aware that I use the stove extensively. If you have baseboards that are hooked up and permanent, that by default, becomes your primary heat in their minds. Your best bet is to contact multiple agents and discuss this with them. You DO NOT EVER want to have your insurance company refuse your insurance policy due to your heating problem. Once that happens, you are red flagged for at least 6 years and will have problem getting insurance at any price.

    What the real issue is the definition of 'primary heat'. As long as you are honest about having baseboards, you should be fine. Whether you use them much is not the issue, it's whether they are hooked up and able to work.

    You really do not have a lot of choice. If you have a mortgage, your mortgage company has the right to call your mortgage the minute you lose house insurance, it will be in the fine print, guaranteed.
     
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  19. jharkin

    jharkin
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    LIke others, my insureer (Amica) is well aware that I have and use the stove, and that I also have and use two 200- year old open fireplaces.

    But I also have traditional thermostat controlled heat. Like mentioned above, their concern is that if wood is all you have and you go away on a trip mid winter, will your pipes freeze, burst and cause flood damage?


    I know its easy to get bent out of shape that an ins co made a profit (crooks!) or that they have the gall to refuse to cover what they consider high risk activities, but at the end of they day they are businesses that exist to make a profit. If they pay out more in claims then they take in through premiums then they will go out of business. period. So either they put in restrictions like this or they charge us all a lot more.

    As customers of those insurance companies we are in effect all pooling our funds together to hedge against being liable for a big loss.You have to ask yourself are you willing to take that risk? Sure you could dump the policy the minute you pay off the note, but what happens if your house burns down, do you have the cash to rebuild? Or if somebody breaks their leg on your icy walkway and sues, can you afford to pay the settlement?
     
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  20. Ashful

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    ;lol
     
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  21. Keener

    Keener
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    Interesting that there seems to be more of an issue with Canadian vs American Ins. Companies. My impression was/is that most of the policy structure is created in the U.S and we follow along.
    For instance, the companies I have talked to tell me that all policies are written using (square footage times X dollars) which to me seems to be new in the last 6 or 7 years or so. The resulting "replacement values" seem far too high and as a result more expensive policies. I was of the impression this was common to both countries.

    Good point about the WETT insurance taking a hit, I had never heard that before. I will ask some questions of Mr. Google on that topic.
    Also good question about what is "primary". Is is by hours used, percentage of the year, BTU's produced, I could argue the sun provides more BTU's per year toward heating this place than wood does.
    Has the primary vs secondary thing been tested in court at some point ?

    Too many questions I know, my head hurts, gotta go outside and hit something with a maul.
     
  22. DougA

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    You are in Canada, so yes, your insurance is regulated by Prov. authorities. but is similar across the country.

    The problem you are having with valuation is the same as my experience since I built 31 yrs. ago. They base everything on what the cost is to rebuild 'new'. I built most of my house, so my cost of construction was low so I had to fight this forever. Didn't matter, I lost. If you insure it too low, they will base any claim on co-insured values. So if your house is worth 200,000 but you insure it for 100,000 and have a $10,000 claim, you will get 50% of your claim because you are insuring 50% of the value of the house. You must have the insurance at 80% or higher to avoid this. I had one claim 2 years ago when 2 tornadoes went through our place. Hundreds of properties damaged in our area. Zero damage to the house but it brought down our hydro pole & line. A week later and $6,000. and we were hooked up again. So I got $5,000. payout (deductible) but paid in the range of $40,000 in insurance premiums over 31 years. SUCKS.

    I don't know the definition of 'primary'. I know from my own inquiries and those Cdns who post here that there is some flexibility. The other posters have it correct IMHO, they want to see a reliable source of heat other than wood. You are best to call various agents in your area like I posted and ask questions. I'm sure there must be other stoves in your area and the local agents will know best. I would NOT use an on-line company for this as I know for sure most of them I have contacted will say NO to any variation of normal. Been there, got 'no' multiple times. Ask neighbours who have wood stoves.

    As far as other questions, all I can add is that my agent called me when I filled out the insurance form that requested full info on the stove. I had listed 2 2/3 cords per years and he thought that was excessive. I discussed it with him and he put it through and I have not heard back - yet anyway. The WETT info can be accessed on their web site and I had a long not so nice discussion with the head office on their requirements. I wanted to put in a Woodstock stove that was UL approved but not ULC. Can't be done unless you use the 'generic' code requirements which are absurd for a very good, new stove. There is no way to win. You are fighting the guys that have all the tools.

    Bottom line with insurance is that you cannot lie. You can easily state that your 'normal' use of wood is different from last season, which was particularly cold. That is not a lie, just a 'variation of seasonal thruths'. ;lol

    EDIT. I know about the insurance on WETT inspectors because I knew one really good home inspector that I called to do my stove. He stopped doing WETT inspections due to the crazy high insurance costs he had to pay. Wasn't making any profit. He explained the situation to me. Sad, because he knew his stuff and many inspectors do not.
     
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  23. Keener

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    DougA, really appreciate the benefit of your experience and patience in taking the time to share it. My wife says I make other peoples head hurt more often than my own.
    I will attempt some math at some point to see if my hydro consumption ( resistance heating ) creates more BTU,s than my wood use.
    Hmmmmm, lets see, 5 cords per year fir X 64,000,000 BTU,s per cord................ minus 40% flue losses............... hmmmmmmm, have to get back to you.
     
  24. DougA

    DougA
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    If you already have resistance heating, then that is your primary heat. Nothing more need be said. Don't overthink it.

    From what I understand (this is free advice and worth exactly what I charge) the insurance company will not be concerned unless you have a loss that is directly related to a fire caused by either altering your wood heat system in an unapproved way after it is inspected or any other code violation, such as having an bookcase 12" from your stove.
     
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  25. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers
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    Heard this as well from an inspector - WETT inspection is a liability / risk transfer thing. Apparently they're on the nut if there's a fire. Insurance demanded WETT last year - first time ever, same equipment, no changes to anything - but no choice in the matter. I get to pay for a ticket that lets them off the hook if there's a claim? Somethin' ain't right..
     
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