Two common household fire hazards insured’s just can’t stay away from…

Total Loss

I attribute it to really good marketing.  The same stuff that makes any insured drop the good insurer for minimum limits and cheaper rates insurer will surely make any consumer purchase a fire hazard and bring it home.   Once in their home, there is no turning back.

Sure you have the cooking appliances, the family cat, and kids playing with matches.  However, once these losses are closed, subrogation can be tricky.  Especially since, most of the product lawyers rely on ‘human error’ to defend their clients.  The top offenders are as follows:


The largest loss I ever handled was from an insured to left a candle burning next to a stack of towels in the upstairs bathroom.   The insured indicated that the she had left a window open nearby and then left the house for the evening.  It was eventually determined that the wind had blown the flame onto the towels thereby causing the fire.

As an insured myself I cannot say I have never left the house with a candle burning.  It is nice to come home to that fragrant smell – dangerous as well.

According to the National Fire Protection Association from 2009 to 2013 there were 9,300 home structure fires, 86 deaths, 827 injuries, and $374 million in property damage attributed to candles.

Now that we are heading into winter (the house fire season) short of handing our coupons to the local candle store – maybe some tips on your website to include burning candles while you’re home and while out of reach of pets, children, drafts, ceiling fans and windy windows.

Although those tall bayberry candles are exquisite – they also have a tendency to fall over (especially if not secured properly).

Hair Dryers

When left plugged in or on, they can create havoc in the household.  I handled numerous claims involving hair dryers from children playing with them and catching themselves and the house on fire to a mother leaving early morning, her hair dryer still plugged in, and coming back to nothing but a burnt out house

I have sat through arbitration across from fourteen lawyers of the hair dryer company – driven by the purpose of 50% or more or I don’t go home.  It does not matter, because there will never be a hair dryer that can be safely left plugged in.

The National Fire Protection Association tells us between 2007 and 2011 the US averaged 172 hair dryer fires per year with cost of $6 million.  That includes an average of 7 deaths per year.

Again, things to stay away from with hair dryers – don’t wrap the cord and don’t place it on a flammable surface, like the bed, the sofa, or the chair cushion.  If you can smell it burning or hear any parts clanking around – get a new one.  My personal rule of thumb – every two years I get a new one.

Yes, there are plenty of the other products out there that cause just as much damage; however, these are the most prevalent.  My instructor at the Vale claims academy could not say enough about these two items – because every property claims person has a story about one or the other.

I have pushed the local fire department before, but in this case they can be helpful in giving the insured information.  My own local fire department gives out stickers and magnets with information.  Further, there is the NFPA website – NFPA.ORG that has facts and flyers as well.   This is something nice to send along with any renewal packet and/or your business information.

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