Does a Freestanding Wood-Burning Stove Make Your Homeowner's Insurance More Expensive?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

In the not-too-distant past, freestanding wood-burning stoves were a popular home-heating method. In the forested northern reaches of the country, wood-burning stoves were the principal source of home heat before the popularization of coal and petroleum. In fact, the vast swathe of primeval forest that stretched from Maine to Wisconsin was largely cleared to satisfy the growing country's insatiable appetite for lumber and fuel. In Canada, the story was largely the same.

Of course, wood-burning stoves are no longer the primary source of heat for most American homeowners. However, these devices are still used by a small but active cadre of frugal families. In fact, their popularity has grown in recent years thanks to a secular uptick in the cost of heating fuel. Wood is now a cheaper home-heating fuel than coal or oil. Despite the propane and methane glut that has caused clean-burning gas prices to crater in recent years, wood is also nearly as cheap as natural gas.

However, wood-burning stoves have a major hidden cost: They raise their users' insurance premiums by significant margins. This should be not surprising. After all, even modern wood-burning stoves can be prone to sparking and spitting. These natural phenomena represent serious fire hazards that can't easily be anticipated or controlled. In addition, wood-burning stoves tend to be accident-prone. Most homeowner's insurance companies simply won't write a policy for a family home that contains a wood-burning stove as well as small children.

If your home contains a modern, secure wood-burning stove and lacks small children, you may be able to procure a decently-priced homeowner's insurance policy. However, your insurance company will tack a major surcharge onto the total annual cost of your policy. Depending upon the frequency with which you use your stove and the area in which you live, this surcharge can range from $35 to $150 per year. If the stove is the sole or primary source of heat for your home, your provider may increase this surcharge.

When you sign up for your homeowner's insurance policy, you may not be required to submit to a pre-approval home inspection. If this is the case, you might be tempted to omit mention of the wood-burning stove on your application. While this might temporarily reduce your rates, such a decision could have far-reaching consequences. If you fail to report the presence of a stove and subsequently file a claim that's unrelated to the device, your claim may be denied outright. Your policy could even be cancelled.

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