Is there a solution to the problem of wood burners in thatched homes?
Wood burners are responsible for the vast majority of thatch fires in the UK, but who is responsible for this worrying development and what needs to be done to reverse the trend?
It would seem that insurance companies are taking the lead in solving the problem by dramatically increasing insurance premiums on any thatched property with a wood burner installed. On average thatched home owners (with wood burners installed) are seeing a 30% increase in their premium, so for example, a home owner with a wood burner installed who was previously paying £1000 will see an increase to £1300 per year.
Steve Graham, Managing Director of Thatch Shield Ltd, a specialist arranger of thatched insurance said, “Nobody is taking responsibility, expensive liners are still being sold as ‘thatch safe’, but still the houses are catching fire and nobody was taking responsibility for the problem, so it was inevitable that the insurance companies would raise premiums when this obvious problem has been identified.
“It’s a shame that premium prices are being used to fight the problem. In my opinion, the insurance companies should identify a test case, settle the losses, but then go after the installer of the liners, after all, all good reputable companies should have products liability insurance and their product has failed. But for some reason the insurance companies are really reluctant to do it, but it only needs one case to set a precedence for the future. My best guess is that they would struggle to prove that a fire was 100% either the fault of the wood burner or the liner.
“With liners costing between £4-5,000 you would expect this to guarantee the safe use of a wood burning stove but the evidence is stacking up against using wood burners in thatched homes with decommissioning becoming the only option and returning to open fires or central heating.”
Thatched home owners are being encouraged to use alternative forms of heating - if they decommission their wood burners, they can save a considerable amount on their insurance premium. For example, that original £1000 premium (quoted above) could actually drop to £700, so the real comparison is £700 against the £1300 – an effective saving of £600 per year.
Date added: 27 November 2018