Insurance Companies and wood stoves...

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egclassic

Feeling the Heat
Jan 1, 2011
261
SW Ohio
So recently I decided to switch insurance companies because Allstates rates kept climbing. I called a local insurance agency and met with an agent who found us a policy with more coverage for both home and auto for a couple hundred a year less.
Now, a month AFTER the new policies took effect, my agent calls and asks "Do you have a wood burning stove?" Really? Isn't this something you should ask before you write the policy? Besides, I gave him a copy of my allstate policy that showed I had a wood burning fireplace. Anyway, I say yes and he asks if it was professionally installed, and I say yes again. He says it "shouldn't" be a problem, but I will call you tomorrow. Well I hope not, it wasn't an issue for Allstate. I told him that Allstate did not raise my rates when I had it installed because I was already being charged for a wood burning fireplace. I told him that I thought wood burning inserts were safer than fireplaces anyway. He said it's the opposite. I am hoping he is confused by terminology, stove vs. insert. This could not turn out well for me, we'll see.
 

WoodpileOCD

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2011
722
Central NC
Can't imagine why they would consider an open fireplace safer than an enclosed metal box with a stainless liner going straight to the sky. Good luck.
 
My insurer, RBC Insurance, has some stupid rule that says I can't have more than 2 cords of wood on my property otherwise they consider me a full time wood burner and they don't insure full time heating with wood. They made it very clear that my policy would be cancelled if they came to inspect my property and found more than the allowed quantity.

I tried arguing that extra wood would be drying for at least a year or two prior to being used and they wouldn't hear it. 2 cords, any more and look for a new insurer. Guess people in Toronto are spoiled with their natural gas fireplaces and have lost all common sense.
 

Hearth Mistress

Minister of Fire
If you run into trouble, call Erie Insurance, i'm pretty sure they write policies in OH, not just PA. They insure our cars, house, life, everything. I can't say enough great things about them. When all my neighbors were fighting with their insurance company, a week after Sandy with still no utilities, water, nothing, my adjuster showed up with cases of water, cans of gas for the generator and dog treats for my dogs. They are awesome....period.
 
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BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
Yeah been with Allstate since 1972. When we had this place built they said "Well we insured it with a fireplace. Insert no problem.". Sick of their premium increases and I paid the joint off a week ago. If nobody wants the business because I burn wood I go self insured. Not one claim in 41 years and if the joint burns down any one of them would try to get out of paying anyway.

Try State Farm. From observing on the forum over the years they seem kinda wood burner friendly. Just never admit heating full time with wood with any of them. Just like I never admit that the central heat broke in 1997.
 
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BettyGF

New Member
Jan 1, 2013
4
Arkansas
I phoned my insurance agent to make a house insurance payment. I said, "Priscilla, I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but I'm having a wood stove professionally installed at my house." She answered, "No. You should not tell me that. You don't want your insurance going up." I said, "Okay. I won't tell you." We changed the subject to talk about the winter storm and the flu epidemic.
 

Seanm

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2012
915
SE BC Canadian Rockies
Out here Im told 3 cord is the max. So should I not age my soft woods below 20% and decrease my chances of build up, or burn wood that isnt well seasoned just so I heed the requirements of the insurance company? I feel your frustration. Im a firm believer that insurance companies are behind the times.
 
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etiger2007

Minister of Fire
Feb 8, 2012
1,255
Clio Michigan
My insurance company ( Eaton Insurance) didnt bat an eye when I told them I installed an insert. They simply said "we will note it on your policy" and they made the comment " No change in premium because you are paying for an open fireplace already" They did say if I installed a free standing wood burner my premium would go up 10%. Now if I can just get them to insure the place with a pond Id be all set with them.
 

simple.serf

Feeling the Heat
Dec 7, 2011
336
Sherman, NY
If you run into trouble, call Erie Insurance, i'm pretty sure they write policies in OH, not just PA. They insure our cars, house, life, everything. I can't say enough great things about them. When all my neighbors were fighting with their insurance company, a week after Sandy with still no utilities, water, nothing, my adjuster showed up with cases of water, cans of gas for the generator and dog treats for my dogs. They are awesome....period.
+1 on that! We have Erie Insurance in NY (I actually work in Erie 3 days a week), and they have always been great. The only request they had was that my stove was installed by a dealer. Their commercial side is pretty good too.

And they insure my house with a 1 acre pond in the front yard.
 
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Motor7

Feeling the Heat
Nov 10, 2009
412
East TN.
Farm Bureau here does not have a problem with burning wood. Their rates used to be very competitive until we go pummeled with hail a year ago...millions paid out in claims for vehicles and roofs so oddly enough they raised their rates.
 
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duramax1

Member
Mar 21, 2012
10
Spokane, WA
Our State Farm policy requires a professional install and the local agent will need to stop by and take photos to submit to the home office. They quoted an extra $20 per month in premium to cover the installed wood stove....
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
18,851
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Travelers . . . no change in premium . . . they did request the stove be professionally installed and inspected by the Fire Chief or Fire Inspector.
 

bag of hammers

Minister of Fire
Jan 7, 2010
1,447
Northern ON
...they did request the stove be professionally installed and inspected by the Fire Chief or Fire Inspector.
I get the fact that the insurance companies want some reasonable evidence that an install isn't a hack. But it's a double edged sword sometimes. When I installed my own unit way back, in my original cabin my insurance company asked for photos of the install and proof of CSA or Warnock / Hersey (I think it was called back then) approval, which I provided - top to bottom photo's with a bit of description added. That was it - I guess I got lucky in that regard. Contrast with other items (not wood heat related) that I had "professionally installed" and the "pro's" in those cases were somewhere between incompetent and downright dangerous. These same guys around a wood stove would likely be a disaster. Reminds me of the sweep story here on the forum a few months ago where the "sweep" sent some midievel contraption spinning down the chimney liner and tore it to pieces.

There are installers out there who no doubt are great. Probably some close to putting the same kind of care and attention into my projects that I would. But that's not always so. The electrical inspector who signed off my permits said my work was meticulous, some of the best he's seen. I'm not an electrician. I've seen some pro work that just passes code, and has "working on the clock" written all over it.

I imagine there are many installs I probably wouldn't tackle on my own (I have a simple straight-up system). But IMHO let the insurance company send their guy in to inspect (even if it's on my dime) and call it a day, regardless of who did the install. If it's over my head, I hire out. Either way, if it's crap the inspector will call it. Guess it's not that simple though. Sorry for a bit of a rant...
 

Dakotas Dad

Minister of Fire
Mar 19, 2009
1,498
Central Kentucky
Can't imagine why they would consider an open fireplace safer than an enclosed metal box with a stainless liner going straight to the sky. Good luck.
Because a fireplace doesn't get as hot, and is usually burned rarely, for ambiance. (in fact we have several friends, in newer construction homes with fireplaces who have NEVER had a fire in them) We actually used our fireplace quite a bit, and part of the reason we did the wood stove was so we got more than just ambiance out of the wood.

Whole 'nuther deal when you are burning 24/7 with a device that gets a lot hotter. Also.. it doesn't take much reading right here to see some VERY scary installs.. Many people can do a great DIY.. some shouldn't scoop their own ice cream.

My wife is in the "industry", and in fact used to be an independent agent.. Insurance companies study it 8 ways from Sunday to come up with their "whys".. That said, we are with "Cincinnati Insurance" and they have been great. Our premium did go up $25 a year.
 

joecool85

Minister of Fire
We have MetLife and they are great. Our rates went up $10/month and they needed some pictures of the install. They sent a guy out for that. I also had our fire chief check it out too, but that was just for my own sanity.
 

chvymn99

Minister of Fire
Nov 20, 2010
652
Kansas
My insurance went up $52 dollars for the addition of the wood burning stove. I had to fill out a form and take pictures (as it sits, through the ceiling, through the roof, and the exit through the roof).
 

egclassic

Feeling the Heat
Jan 1, 2011
261
SW Ohio
I phoned my insurance agent to make a house insurance payment. I said, "Priscilla, I don't know if I should tell you this or not, but I'm having a wood stove professionally installed at my house." She answered, "No. You should not tell me that. You don't want your insurance going up." I said, "Okay. I won't tell you." We changed the subject to talk about the winter storm and the flu epidemic.
Yeah but, IF, you have a fire and it was somehow caused by, or assumed to be caused by, the wood stove I wouldn't think they'd cover anything.
 
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egclassic

Feeling the Heat
Jan 1, 2011
261
SW Ohio
Because a fireplace doesn't get as hot, and is usually burned rarely, for ambiance. (in fact we have several friends, in newer construction homes with fireplaces who have NEVER had a fire in them) We actually used our fireplace quite a bit, and part of the reason we did the wood stove was so we got more than just ambiance out of the wood.

Whole 'nuther deal when you are burning 24/7 with a device that gets a lot hotter. Also.. it doesn't take much reading right here to see some VERY scary installs.. Many people can do a great DIY.. some shouldn't scoop their own ice cream.

My wife is in the "industry", and in fact used to be an independent agent.. Insurance companies study it 8 ways from Sunday to come up with their "whys".. That said, we are with "Cincinnati Insurance" and they have been great. Our premium did go up $25 a year.
But most fireplaces are operated with just a screen blocking sparks from flying out instead of a positively sealed door.
I could handle a $25 a year increase, but someone else mentioned $20 a month, that's $240 a year! They should pro-rate it also, 'cause I only use my stove 6 out of 12 months!
 

colin.p

Burning Hunk
Feb 26, 2011
219
Ottawa Canada
My insurer, RBC Insurance, has some stupid rule that says I can't have more than 2 cords of wood on my property otherwise they consider me a full time wood burner and they don't insure full time heating with wood. They made it very clear that my policy would be cancelled if they came to inspect my property and found more than the allowed quantity.

I tried arguing that extra wood would be drying for at least a year or two prior to being used and they wouldn't hear it. 2 cords, any more and look for a new insurer. Guess people in Toronto are spoiled with their natural gas fireplaces and have lost all common sense.
As much as I detest insurance companies, I HATE RBC even more. That's why when my mortgage came due last year, I went with another bank. However, insurance companies don't like wood or oil heating, pretty soon we will all be living in igloos.
 

joecool85

Minister of Fire
But most fireplaces are operated with just a screen blocking sparks from flying out instead of a positively sealed door.
I could handle a $25 a year increase, but someone else mentioned $20 a month, that's $240 a year! They should pro-rate it also, 'cause I only use my stove 6 out of 12 months!
I didn't see $20/month, but I had said mine went up $10/month. I got to thinking about it and I don't think that's right, I think it went up $5/month - I'd have to check to be sure.
 

egclassic

Feeling the Heat
Jan 1, 2011
261
SW Ohio
Called agent today and asked him if I need to look for another insurance company. He said no and that he just needs to take some pics and fill out a questionnaire, and all should be fine. Call me skeptical, but I have a feeling they won't raise my premium this year since it is towards the end of the season, but wait till my renewal next year!
 

gyrfalcon

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2007
1,837
Champlain Valley, Vermont
Out here Im told 3 cord is the max. So should I not age my soft woods below 20% and decrease my chances of build up, or burn wood that isnt well seasoned just so I heed the requirements of the insurance company? I feel your frustration. Im a firm believer that insurance companies are behind the times.
This stuff is just nuts! I'm in Vermont, where half the state heats with wood, and maybe two thirds in my rural area. When I bought the house and went to apply for home insurance, they asked me if I had a woodstove-- period. Nothing about full-time heating, what kind of stove, who installed it, and for sure nothing about how much wood I keep outside. I assume there's some kind of extra hit on the premium, but the question was so minimal and offhand, I doubt it's much. (Of course, they do the same with security. Not looking at me, "Does your door have a deadbolt?" "Yes, ma'am," and on to the next question. Of couirse, it's perfectly useless out in the mjiddle of nowhere in an old farmhouse and no neighbors to notice if somebody breaks down the door when I'm not there, so I don't bother to use it, and she didn't even ask me if I did.)

God bless living in the country where even the insurance companies have a sense of proportion!
 

gyrfalcon

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2007
1,837
Champlain Valley, Vermont
+1 on that! We have Erie Insurance in NY (I actually work in Erie 3 days a week), and they have always been great. The only request they had was that my stove was installed by a dealer. Their commercial side is pretty good too.

And they insure my house with a 1 acre pond in the front yard.
Funny that. Where I am, that pond would get you a substantial discount on your insurance because there's no such thing as a fire hydrant here. The (volunteer) fire department encourages people to have ponds, and even helps build them if you want to put one in.
 

gyrfalcon

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2007
1,837
Champlain Valley, Vermont
I get the fact that the insurance companies want some reasonable evidence that an install isn't a hack. But it's a double edged sword sometimes. When I installed my own unit way back, in my original cabin my insurance company asked for photos of the install and proof of CSA or Warnock / Hersey (I think it was called back then) approval, which I provided - top to bottom photo's with a bit of description added. That was it - I guess I got lucky in that regard. Contrast with other items (not wood heat related) that I had "professionally installed" and the "pro's" in those cases were somewhere between incompetent and downright dangerous. These same guys around a wood stove would likely be a disaster. Reminds me of the sweep story here on the forum a few months ago where the "sweep" sent some midievel contraption spinning down the chimney liner and tore it to pieces.

There are installers out there who no doubt are great. Probably some close to putting the same kind of care and attention into my projects that I would. But that's not always so. The electrical inspector who signed off my permits said my work was meticulous, some of the best he's seen. I'm not an electrician. I've seen some pro work that just passes code, and has "working on the clock" written all over it.

I imagine there are many installs I probably wouldn't tackle on my own (I have a simple straight-up system). But IMHO let the insurance company send their guy in to inspect (even if it's on my dime) and call it a day, regardless of who did the install. If it's over my head, I hire out. Either way, if it's crap the inspector will call it. Guess it's not that simple though. Sorry for a bit of a rant...
It's a good rant.
 

Seanm

Minister of Fire
Oct 16, 2012
915
SE BC Canadian Rockies
This stuff is just nuts! I'm in Vermont, where half the state heats with wood, and maybe two thirds in my rural area. When I bought the house and went to apply for home insurance, they asked me if I had a woodstove-- period. Nothing about full-time heating, what kind of stove, who installed it, and for sure nothing about how much wood I keep outside. I assume there's some kind of extra hit on the premium, but the question was so minimal and offhand, I doubt it's much. (Of course, they do the same with security. Not looking at me, "Does your door have a deadbolt?" "Yes, ma'am," and on to the next question. Of couirse, it's perfectly useless out in the mjiddle of nowhere in an old farmhouse and no neighbors to notice if somebody breaks down the door when I'm not there, so I don't bother to use it, and she didn't even ask me if I did.)

God bless living in the country where even the insurance companies have a sense of proportion!
It seems from this post that those of us north of the border have more issues with insurance for wood burning. Any Canadians having an easier go at it? Id like to hear from you as to who your provider is. Might shop around a bit.
 
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