Home Businesses (Wholesale)

Insuring your home-based business is important as most homeowners policy will refuse coverage.
Insuring your home-based business

A variety of businesses are routinely operated in homes. This article discusses aspects of particular operations. Refer to Home Businesses – Basics for background information on coverage as well as our other articles discussing different in-home businesses.

Wholesale – As a wholesaler, here are some coverage options for your consideration:

Businessowners Policy – If you are a manufacturer’s representative with limited inventory, some insurance companies will cover your business with a BOP. A BOP provides broad coverage for buildings, personal property, loss of business income, extra expense incurred to remain in business (after a fire or other covered cause of loss), premises liability and medical payments.

If you have more than $1,000 of goods off-premises in transit, you will need to add additional coverage. Coverage for goods stored at other locations must be added to the policy.

Commercial Package Policy – If you cannot qualify for a BOP, your agent will probably have to build a special commercial package policy to meet your needs. You will need a competent commercial lines agent to help you. Commercial lines agents have both the expertise to design the appropriate coverage and the markets for your wholesale business.

Workers Compensation聽– You will need workers compensation coverage for any employee – even part-timers.

Commercial Auto Policy – You may need commercial automobile insurance if you deliver anything or if your vehicle is larger than a car, van or small pickup, or if the vehicle is owned by a corporation.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Home Businesses (Retail)

Home -Based Retail Operations

A variety of businesses are routinely operated in homes. This article discusses aspects of particular operations. Refer to Home Businesses – Basics for background information on coverage as well as our other articles discussing different in-home businesses.

Retail – Persons with in-home retail operations must look beyond an HO policy for coverage.

Running a home-based business isn't right for everyone.  But if your one of those  suited to such endeavors you should review your homeowners insurance policy for gaps in coverage.
Home-Based Retail Business owner prepare packages

The聽Businessowners聽Policy (BOP) provides broad聽coverages聽for buildings, personal property, loss of business income and extra expenses incurred to remain in business (after a fire or other covered cause of loss), premises liability and medical payments. If you have more than $1,000 of goods in transit, you will need to add additional coverage. Goods stored at other locations must be added to the policy, normally as an additional location.

You will need workers compensation coverage for any employee, even part-timers. You may need commercial automobile insurance if you deliver anything or if your vehicle is larger than a car, van or small pickup or if the vehicle is owned by a corporation.

Note: some insurance companies can offer amendments to your homeowners policy that can cover certain, in-home businesses.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Attractive Nuisances


Trampolines can clutter your yard, and that's the nicest thing we have to say.
Trampolines; Kids love them, insurers don’t!

What Is An Attractive Nuisance?

This is a term originated by a judge to describe a property that attracts youngsters and, because of its dangerous nature, creates a special obligation to property owners. Examples are:

  • swimming pools
  • trampolines
  • empty buildings
  • appliances kept outside
  • excavations
  • construction materials
  • zip lines

All of these can lure children onto property and they all have the potential to cause serious injury.

Why Do Attractive Nuisances Create A Special Obligation?

A special obligation exists because of such property’s child endangering nature. Children do not have the reasoning ability of adults. When an opportunity to have fun pops up, it’s a rare child who thinks about the chance of being injured. A property owner with an attractive nuisance on his property cannot escape liability because of a trespassing child. When an attractive nuisance is involved, adults have to make a special effort to protect children from their blind sense of adventure or face the consequences.

How Do You Handle Attractive Nuisances?

Pools increase liability exposures for homeowners.  Controling access to the will likely have a positive impact on your homeowners insurance premiums.
Pool Safety starts with controlling access.

The answer is鈥oing whatever it takes to prevent a child’s access to the nuisance. Therefore, in order of their effectiveness:

1. Eliminate the nuisance

  • have old appliances hauled to a junkyard
  • tow old, non-running vehicles away
  • get rid of construction materials immediately after a building project is complete

2. Secure the nuisance

  • take off doors or covers from large appliances awaiting garbage pickup
  • keep sharp tools, especially power tools and equipment, locked away
  • store construction materials in a garage or shed

3. Reduce the chance for injury from a nuisance

  • install a pool cover and have a locked fence to prevent access to the pool
  • do not allow younger children to use equipment such as trampolines
  • make sure there’s adult supervision of children using play equipment

If you’re not certain about whether you have an attractive nuisance situation, discuss the situation with an insurance professional.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without the written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Special Property, Special Coverage


Special property items such as cash, guns, jewelry and other items will only be covered up to the special limit set by the policy
Special Property Insurance Limits

A standard homeowner鈥檚 policy offers a limit equal to half of the amount reserved for the residence to protect against loss to a given residence鈥檚 personal Property (ex. Your home is covered for $150,000, so your contents and furnishings are covered for $75,000). While this is generous coverage, it doesn’t extend to all types of the property nor for all causes of loss. Certain types of property, because of its high value and liquidity, is far more vulnerable to loss…either easily destroyed, easily stolen or both. So, to compensate for this difference, insurers use coverage restrictions.

Causes of loss can also trigger lower limits.  Covered property of any type will be subject to reduced limits when theft is the cause of loss
Property claims due to theft are subject to lower limits

Theft Coverage Limitations

When property is lost due to theft, coverage under a standard homeowner policy is severely limited (generally $1,000 – $2,500) for the following types of property:

  • jewelry, watches, furs, and gemstones
  • dinnerware, serving sets, trophies and similar property made of or plated with silver, gold, platinum or pewter
  • for firearms, accessories and related property

Other Coverage Limitations

Several categories of property are subject to very modest limits ($200 – $2,500) of coverage, regardless of the cause of loss (theft, fire, accidental breakage, etc.). Specifically:

  • money, banknotes, coins, medals, gold, silver, and platinum (other than jewelry or dinnerware)
  • securities, accounts, deeds, tickets, stamps, manuscripts, passports and similar property
  • watercraft and related property including their trailers
  • trailers not used with watercraft
  • business property located in your residence
  • business property located away from your residence
  • certain types of electronic property which are lost or damaged while in a car or is located away from your home and used for business.

Handling the Limited Coverage Situation

Insurance companies are happy to provide more coverage if they are paid for their trouble. Specifically, limited coverage can be handled using the following methods:

Increased Coverage C Endorsement – this form is only appropriate for property saddled with limited coverage for theft losses. This form is attached to a basic policy and it increases the theft insurance limit (i.e. for jewelry from $1,500 to $5,000).

Scheduled Personal Property Endorsement – this form is used for increasing coverage for property that has protection reduced for all sources of loss. The property is removed from the basic policy’s limits and is covered exclusively by the endorsement. This form takes more work since each item of property has to be listed and assigned a particular insurance limit.

Inland Marine Property Floater – this method works like the personal property endorsement, except that it is a separate policy. This alternative is more appropriate for persons owning substantial amounts of high-valued property. The coverage must often be purchased from specialized insurers and comes at a high cost. In order to qualify for such coverage, you may need to meet special circumstances such as having a residential alarm system or make use of vault storage.

Another Advantage of Special Handling

In order to arrange coverage under a schedule or an inland marine policy, the property must be properly valued. This often involves appraising the property. It’s very helpful to have an expert source to establish the current value of jewelry, furs or other valuable possessions. In fact, such property should be appraised every two or three years since their values often increase over time.

Do you still have questions about property that needs special handling? Talk to an insurance professional about your needs and make sure that you have proper protection.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Internet Liability

Libel and slander have been around for almost as long as there have been attorneys and Judges.  The internet is just another medium were they can occur.
Libel and Slander can also occur online

Each day more people decide to create their own Websites, blogs or otherwise participate in social media activities. The reasons for having a Website or blog vary or other activities range from frivolity to earnestness. Personal Websites and blogs commonly describe the host, his or her family, and interests such as a particular hobby, sports, profession, humor, etc. Whatever the reason for creating a Website or blog, they, along with social network activity can represent an additional source of loss that may require additional insurance. The loss potential is directly related to the purpose and content found on the Website.

New Opportunity For Old Losses

Website liability is an extension of the age-old accountability for what you say or write. Such responsibility extends to household members; so it’s important to be aware of what a family’s little E-wizard may be doing. The types of losses that may be created by a Website, blog, or social media activity include:

  • Libel – knowingly publishing false information that harms a person’s reputation.
  • Invasion of Privacy – disclosing information that interferes with another party’s peace of mind.
  • Infringement – violating or interfering with another’s property rights or the right to pursue business

Oops, You May Not Be Covered

There are a couple of quick places to  confirm whether you have coverage for liable and slander.  Check your homeowners and even more likely, your umbrella.
Are you insured for libel and slander? Most aren’t!

Most homeowner policies protect against liability for tangible injury to another person or for actual damage to another party’s property. Liability created by publishing or broadcasting content typically involves a personal (or non-physical) injury that is not covered by a typical homeowner policy. While individuals may be able to add protection (such as add-ons to a homeowner policy or umbrella coverage), certain losses may still be uncovered because they involve intended acts or business activity.

Can You Protect Yourself?

The good news is you can take steps to eliminate or, at least, minimize the possibility of facing electronic publishing-related loss. The first step is to identify areas of concern. The key to understanding and addressing any possible Website liability is to focus upon:

  • the nature of the Website or activity
  • the Website or account鈥檚 contents
  • who may be harmed by the site or activity
  • how a party may be harmed

It is important that you think hard about these issues and approach the job objectively. Your building a site, blogging or using social media just for “fun” could end with you explaining the punch line in court. Two people can interpret information in radically different ways. Use a method of examining your Website that helps you view it through “fresh” eyes that won’t gloss over important facts. Asking the help of others could be a big plus.

Considerations For Your Web Site, Blog or Social Networking

If you or someone in your household operates or is building a Website, or is active with social media, you need to be aware that the site (or activity) could open you to legal situations. Here are some questions you should consider:

Who created the site or page?

Key consideration: depending upon the circumstances, a private party that created the site for you may share (or even own) the responsibility for damages caused by the site.

What is the purpose of your site or activity?

Key consideration: Is there ANY business activity or purpose? If so, you may have an immediate need to secure appropriate protection.

What content is found at your site or page?

Key consideration: Not only do you have to think about YOUR message, but you must think of other parties that appear at your site such as friends, companion businesses or even miscellaneous links.

Who do you intend to attract to the site and how do visitors use your page?

Key consideration: There’s a big difference in the type of people you’re targeting, such as inviting:

  • relatives to see baby pictures or family newsletters
  • customers to request product/service information or to place orders
  • hobbyists to distribute or solicit stories or advice
  • strangers to a forum for discussing sports, political or other topics

Is there anyone you would not want to see the site or page? Why?

Key consideration: Answering this question honestly is critical. It can identify prime sources for possible legal action against you. It may also suggest what precautions you may take, including the easiest action such as eliminating the reference to a person, group or organization.

Does Your Site or Activity Create An Insurance Need?

After examining the key concerns about your Website, you should be prepared to take precautions which may include:

  • adding security features to your Website
  • changing the content
  • adding waivers or disclaimers about links or certain pages that appear on your site
  • adding user agreements to your site
  • creating guidelines on maintaining current and future content at the site
  • changing your homeowner coverage
  • buying additional or special personal or business liability insurance
  • adding or eliminating a guest book (if you have a guest book, pay close attention to what visitors say)
  • eliminating the Website

Once you’ve carefully examined your situation, a discussion with an insurance professional could be an excellent step to identify coverage needs which may include having to buy commercial coverage. The instant and widespread access represented by the Internet creates new perils for individuals. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of an insurance professional or even competent legal advice.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without the written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Chimney Safety

Ignore chimney safety and it won't be Santa on your roof.  Poor Chimney safety may lead to a visit from the fire department.
Damaged Chimneys Significantly Increase the Risk of Home Fires

Chimneys often enhance a home鈥檚 roofline as well as add a decorative interior feature (fireplace) to a home鈥檚 interior. However, it is the chimney鈥檚 function that deserves the most attention. They are intended to safely disperse the heat and smoke that result from the use of a fireplace. Fireplace fires reach very high temperatures that take their toll on chimneys. It is risky to regularly use fireplaces without making sure that the chimney is in a safe condition.

An April 2015 report from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reveals that, on average, more than 20,000 fires occur annually across the U.S. that are directly related to chimneys and chimney connections (found with wood-burning stoves and fireplace inserts).

One particular danger when buying an existing home that has a fireplace is that the chimney may have experienced a previous fire. There are certain signs to look for that are red flags, such as the following:

Chimney problems may go unnoticed by most.  Missing chimney flues., creosote on the ground, bubbled creosote, warped dampers, dark cracks, and  damaged shingles or rain caps.  These are all great indications of potential chimney problems.
Unsafe Chimneys: Know the Signs
  • Chimney flue tiles are missing or damaged
  • Creosote (tar colored) flakes appear on roof or ground adjacent to the chimney
  • Creosote that looks puffed or bubbled
  • Chimney damper appears warped
  • Exterior masonry has smoke-darkened cracks
  • Rain cap appears darkened from smoke and/or has a distorted shape
  • Roofing near chimney appears heat or smoke damaged

Chimney fires can be hidden, intense and even explosive, typically causing very serious levels of damage, often life-threatening. If you make use of a fireplace, wood-burning stove or an insert, it is very important to get them regularly and professionally inspected.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Making Mobile Homes Safer

Insurance for mobile homes can be expensive.  Proper anchoring will give your home a great chance of survive the next wind storm.
Properly Anchoring
Mobile Homes are Critical

Mobile homes are vulnerable to serious damage from winds and storms since they are smaller and much lighter than stick-built or factory-built homes. It is important to use reinforcements to make them more stable; such as tie-downs.

Tiedowns come in two basic types; over-the-top tie-downs and frame anchors. Over-the-top tie-downs are straps that resist lifting forces and minimize tip-overs. They are usually used with single-wide mobile homes. Strapping is placed with over the top of the roof or over the structure鈥檚 sides. Frame anchors are reinforcements that resist lateral forces, making a structureless vulnerable to sliding off supports

In order to stabilize a structure, the tie-downs must be properly anchored to a foundation, slab or the ground. Anchor types include the following:

insurance for mobile homes: Properly setting a mobile can help reduce the cost of insurance.
Tying down Mobile Homes

路         Hard Rock Anchor

路         Concrete Slab Anchor

路         Cross Drive Rock Anchor

路         Drive or Barb Anchor

路         Auger Anchor

路         Disc Anchors

Straps and anchors have to be used properly and they have to meet various standards such as聽placement聽of anchors, anchor fittings, method of installation and ground/site conditions. When anchored to the ground, it may be necessary to make test its suitability as an anchor. If piers and footings are used they must be able to meet various requirements regarding weight support, dimensions, material quality, pier placement, and other areas. Straps and anchors also have to meet requirements in order to be depended on to withstand the stresses winds and other forces.

Use of tie-downs varies by state, state regulations and soil type. Local building inspectors and mobile and manufactured home builder associations are excellent sources for anchoring and tiedown requirement information.聽Use of that valuable information, along with insurance, is聽great methods for fully protecting a mobile home.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2017

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Gun Liability 鈥 It鈥檚 Complicated

Guns aren’t tools, always treat them with respect

In 2010, during a party that involved minors drinking alcohol, one guest was shot and killed when a gun, being played with by its owner (another party attendee) went off. The parents of the deceased sued the parents of the gun handler. The latter requested coverage from their homeowner insurance company. The company denied coverage and, eventually, a court ruled that no obligation existed under the insurance policy. The company was released from the lawsuit.

Homeowners coverage, like other insurance policies, is intended to protect against losses that are accidental. Often, accidental losses can be readily determined, but incidents involving firearms are complicated.

Accidental discharge of a gun can be a crime

When one person injures another, both the act and the intent are considerations of whether an incident is an accident. In the shooting incident mentioned above, it was determined that the gun handler was guilty of negligently handling the gun and was jailed. Since a court determined the incident was a crime, it did not qualify as an accident. A loss caused by a crime is ineligible for coverage.

When a loss involves firearms, it is often treated far differently than other circumstances. Consider the following:

Jim is hosting a party at his house for a bunch of high school friends and Fran is one of the persons attending it. Jim, well known to his friends as the group鈥檚 clown, is fooling around with an item. Fran, who is nearby, is seriously injured. Later, Fran鈥檚 family sues Jim鈥檚 parents and they file the lawsuit with their insurance company.

Scenario one 鈥 Jim recently became interested in tennis. He brings out a very expensive tennis racket he just received. He brags about how light and powerful it is and he demonstrates strokes. When he demonstrates a backhand, Fran is passing behind him and she is hit, suffering a broken nose and several shattered teeth!

Scenario two 鈥 Jim recently became interested in firearms. He brings out a very expensive pistol he just received. He brags about how light and powerful it is and he demonstrates how it is supposed to be handled. When he demonstrates how to aim it, the gun fires and Fran is struck. The bullet hits and fractures her shoulder.

In both scenarios, the injuries are a result of Jim鈥檚 immature and careless action. In both situations, no harm was intended. In both instances, Fran is seriously injured. In all likelihood, the losses will not be handled similarly. A tennis racket is a piece of equipment that is intended to be used for a particular sport. It is used for hitting tennis balls and other uses are considered unusual and, for the most part, not dangerous. This loss has a very high chance of being treated as an accident.

A gun is a weapon. It is used for both defensive and offensive purposes and, by nature, is capable of extremely serious, often deadly harm. It is considered to be a dangerous instrument. Therefore, the stakes are far higher whenever a gun or other firearm causes a loss. In many instances, even when harming another party is completely unintended, acts involving firearms also involve far more accountability and may not be classified as accidental. In the shooting scenario, the chance is very high that the loss would be denied.

Because of the danger inherent in guns, it鈥檚 important to be aware that losses involving them are often ineligible for insurance protection. That makes it critical that their ownership is treated seriously and every possible precaution against unintended injury be taken.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc., 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

A Dry Source of Loss

Americans complain to much.  Take just one of our modern day conveniences away for a week.
I promise to never complain about doing laundry again!

Handling our many household chores is all about convenience. For many decades, the incredible washer and dryer power duo have made it possible for us to enjoy easy access to clean, ready-to-wear wardrobes. However, these appliances have a dark side that can result in serious loss, particularly dryers.

The United States Fire Administration (USFA), a federal agency that collects and shares data on fire-related losses, reminds us that dryers, while extremely handy, can also be dangerous. In a recent agency report, fires caused by clothes dryers result in losses of $35 million per year, nationwide. Let鈥檚 repeat that – $35 million in dryer-related losses each and every year.

Dryer cause 2,900 home fires each year in the US.  A third of those fires are due to a failure to clean the dryer.
Preventing a home fire

According to the report, such losses occur more frequently in cooler weather, occurs mostly in residences and, for a bit of good news, most fires are limited to the dryer itself. However, such fires can and do easily spread to other parts of an apartment or home.

More than a third of dryer fire losses are created by insufficient dryer maintenance and improper use. Therefore, dryers, as a source of loss, are quite controllable by homeowners. Here are some suggestions to help minimize dryer fires:

  • Properly and regularly clean out lint traps 鈥 that should include vacuuming out the area housing the lint trap too
  • Avoid putting items in a dryer which are more prone to igniting such as items containing foam (lined drapes, athletic shoes, bathroom rugs)
  • Remove lint that accumulates underneath and in areas outside of the dryer which is also sources of fire
  • Regularly clean out dryer vents. A thorough job is necessary to keep vents free of accumulated lint and, even more serious, bird or rodent nests
  • Do not overload dryers since fires are more likely due to restricted airflow and higher heat build-up
  • Make sure the dryer vent pipe is properly installed and is free of kinks (again, to avoid airflow restriction and heat build-up
  • Consider using a dryer that has a moisture sensor which can end dryer cycles with less of a heat build-up that is permitted by dryers that use thermostats

These simple few safety steps are all that it takes to help avoid a potentially serious fire. Be clean, be dry鈥︹nd be smart!


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2015

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.

Claims By Candlelight

From dark to light, the candle has been mans friend and shown us our path in the dark.
From Dark to Light

If protecting one鈥檚 home isn鈥檛 complicated enough, it appears that the soft, soothing glow of a candle’s flame may obscure some dark problems. Specifically, the use of candles may result in:

  • reducing the internal air quality of your home
  • increasing the chance of fire losses
  • damages聽by particulate deposits on interior and exterior walls, carpets, furniture, appliances, window treatments, floors, and other surfaces

Further, the use of candles may also contribute to health problems from inhaling particulate matter or ingesting harmful chemicals.

Defining the Candle Problem

Candles cause nearly 1 of every 3 fires.  And there is more, Wicks with lead, soot that is a hazard for our modern homes and more.  Is your home covered in the event a candle starts a fire?
Today’s candles can be more
of a hazard than an aid.

Actually, there are a number of problems and they have been accentuated by a change in the market for candles. The last few years have seen an explosive growth in the popularity of candles. They are increasingly used for their traditional, decorative purpose, but the true surge in use has been due to their being marketed as scented candles for deodorizing and for a health-related purpose called aromatherapy.

In both of the above, sales-boosting instances, candle-makers have had to offer products with more intense scents. This is accomplished by adding scented oils into their wax mixture. The increased oil content causes candles to burn improperly and generates a substantially higher level of soot.

A Sooty Situation

It looks like soot, which is a carbon residue produced by burning, can create a large, expensive problem. Since soot is particulate matter that can be carried through the air, it can seriously stain walls, carpets, and personal property. Studies show that electronic and plastic components are also vulnerable to soot damage. Unfortunately, soot produced by poorly burning candles bonds very strongly, making it difficult to impossible to clean. Further, soot may contaminate a home’s heating system, including ductwork. The soot can then be spread throughout a home, creating widespread damage that is difficult to repair. Property stained by soot may have to be cleaned by professionals and, often, the property has to be replaced.

Troublesome candle ingredients

Candle makers are not required to disclose the ingredients.
Do you know what’s in your candles?

You may have assumed that the only materials found in candles were the wick and some type of wax. Surprise! Here’s a list of ingredients which may either be found in a candle or maybe created during combustion:

  • Acetone Benzene Trichlorofluoromethane
  • Carbon Disulfide 2 Butanone 1 1- Trichloroethane
  • Trichloroethene Carbon Tetrachloride Tetrachloroethene
  • Toluene Chlorobenzene Ethylbenzene
  • Styrene Xylene Phenol
  • Cresol Cyclopentene Lead

Another surprise is that the candle-making industry is not required to tell consumers about the ingredients used in their products, including when a wick is used which contains a lead core.

Poor candle design or practices

Have you ever seen a candle with an excessive amount of smoke?  That's soot and it poses several threats.  The same is true if the  candle's flame is very high.
Are candles with high flames or a lot of soot safe?

Besides the use of oils and chemicals, candle-makers sometimes create problems because they commit other mistakes. Candles may burn improperly (causing soot) because a candle’s wick may be off-center or there may not be a proper amount of air in the candle mixture. A candle may have a higher likelihood of causing a fire loss due to:

  • an improper candle mixture which results in intense heat or high flames
  • improper holders (glass that shatters or spills flammable liquid)
  • wood holders that catch fire
  • flammable items imbedded in the candle mixture such as potpourri

Coverage Under a Homeowner Policy?

Brilliant people read their insurance policies.  What types of fire coverage are you protected against?
Are you covered for
losses started by candles?

Damage to a home or personal property due to soot can create serious problems for both an insurer and a homeowner. Losses involving soot can create thousands of dollars in damages. Depending upon the details surrounding a loss and the wording of the particular homeowner policy, coverage for the damage may not be available. Why? Because the source of loss might be considered the result of pollution which may be excluded. Another reason for rejecting a claim may be an assumption that the damage was gradual instead of sudden, so it wouldn’t be considered accidental and sudden damage. A claim could even be affected by the knowledge of the insured. For instance, even if the policy covers soot-related losses, a claim could be denied if a homeowner knew that the type of candle they used could cause damages.

Since the damage is caused by matter that is invisible to the naked eye, it could be difficult to prove that the loss was sudden. Tests can be used to determine the cause of stained or discolored property, but the testing can be expensive and the cost may have to be handled by the homeowner.

What To Do?

It’s all up to you. You might wish to ask more questions about the type of candles you use or curtail your use. You can also discuss whether coverage is available under your homeowner policy with an insurance professional. If you do use candles frequently, you may also want to check your home thoroughly for any stains or discoloration, including any contamination of your heating system.


COPYRIGHT: Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc. 2016

All rights reserved. Production or distribution, whether in whole or in part, in any form of media or language; and no matter what country, state or territory, is expressly forbidden without written consent of Insurance Publishing Plus, Inc.