While installing a wood-burning stove in your home may lower your heat bills, it could raise the annual cost of your home insurance premium. But even if your insurer sees a wood-burning stove as a factor that puts your home at higher risk of fire, there are steps you can take to keep your premium lower.
Know the risks. Once a common way to heat a home, a free-standing wood stove poses a serious fire threat. Consequently, insurers often charge higher insurance premiums if you have a wood-burning stove in your home. But premiums vary depending on how often you use the stove. As long as you don't use a wood stove as your primary or only source of home heat, you may not see a significant increase in the cost of your home insurance.
Comply with safety guidelines. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and local building codes for proper installation. Fires sparked by wood stoves are frequently caused by not installing or operating the stove properly. Hire a qualified professional to install the stove and connect it to the chimney or stovepipe.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends minimum clearances between wood stoves and combustible materials, including unprotected combustible walls and ceilings, when setting up a stove. However, your local building code officer or home insurance company may have tougher installation and clearance requirements than those recommended by the NFPA.
In some cases, you may have to do some home remodeling to install the stove safely. The stove's manufacturer also will specify what kind of material you need to use on the floor under the wood stove—generally, a concrete or masonry floor covered with sheet metal.
Get it inspected. Your insurer may not charge you a higher premium if the wood stove passes inspection. Have a certified chimney sweep clean and inspect the stove annually before the start of the cold weather season. A chimney sweep also will clean the chimney or stovepipe to which the stove is connected and inspect it for proper clearance, safety, and assembly.
If you buy a wood stove listed by Underwriters' Laboratories, that tells you the stove has been tested and meets U.L. Standards for safety.
Take fire safety measures. Some insurers give you a 5 percent discount on your home insurance rates when you install smoke detectors on each level of your home and inside and outside of every bedroom. Keeping a fire extinguisher and fire blanket in the kitchen is another safety measure you can take.
Although sprinkler systems don't come cheap, some home insurance companies give you a premium discount of up to 20 percent if you install a sprinkler system in your home.
The wood-burning stove in your home can be safe to use and need not raise your insurance premiums sky high provided that you carefully follow local building codes and ordinances and the stove manufacturer's requirements for installation and operation. If you're interested in learning more, contact companies like Reinhardt's Insurance Agency.