Who doesn’t love curling up to a crackling fire from a wood stove on a snowy evening, mug of hot chocolate in hand? If you live in a rural area or own a cottage or a vacation getaway, the warm glow of a wood-burning stove sure can be tempting – especially with our chilly Canadian winters. But how will having a wood stove in your house affect your home insurance? We’ve got answers to your top questions about exactly that.
What insurance companies cover wood stoves?
Most insurance providers cover wood-burning stoves – although they might be more cautious about insuring a home that has one, especially if the stove is your main source of heat. You’ll have to meet the insurance company’s conditions for coverage (like getting a WETT inspection – don't worry, we'll cover this a little later), which will vary insurer to insurer.
Tip: If you’re on the fence about getting a wood stove, consider your other options! Check out the pros and cons of wood, gas, electric and ethanol fireplaces to help you decide which type would be best for your home.
Does a wood-burning stove increase my insurance?
Generally, yes. And the reason probably isn’t too surprising. Simply put, having open flames in your home increases the risk of fire. And even if you have an ultra-modern, top-of-the-line model, there’s still a threat. Just the smallest spark could be disastrous.
For an insurance company, a wood stove in the home increases the chance of paying an expensive fire claim – so, your insurance will likely cost more to reflect that risk. In addition to the fire risk, they could also factor in the type of stove you have into your premium, as well as if it’s the primary or secondary source of heat.
But just how much higher will your premium be? Well, the cost increase for adding a wood stove depends on your insurer and how they rate for it. In some situations, they’ll charge a percentage, while others will charge a flat fee. If you’re thinking about getting a wood stove, make sure you understand what you’ll be paying for and why. If you find the projected cost a bit too high, you can always shop around.
Did you know? Wood stoves are often used together with another source of heat, like gas or electric, to save money. Find out how different sources of heat affect your home insurance.
Do I need to tell my insurer that I have or am adding a wood-burning stove?
Absolutely. Not telling them might save you a bit of money in the short term, but you’re putting yourself and your finances at serious risk.
Why? Well, adding a wood stove to your home is considered a “material change in risk”. And as part of your insurance contract, you’re required to promptly disclose any major changes to your home – like installing a wood stove.
A material change in risk is any change that could cause an insurance company to decline to offer insurance or charge a different premium as a result of that change.
So, if you fail to disclose that you’re adding a wood stove and it causes a house fire, they could deny the claim – and you’d end up paying out of pocket for what could be costly damages. It’s just not worth it!
The same thing goes if you’re applying for a new policy and you already have a wood stove in your home. You must disclose the stove, or you risk having a claim denied as well as major financial loss.
Tip: If you’re not sure what changes need to be disclosed and when, give your insurer a call to find out what their rules and processes are.
What are the insurance requirements for a wood stove? Do I need certification to get home insurance?
In Canada, many insurance companies will require your stove to pass a Wood Energy Technology Transfer Inc. (WETT) inspection before they agree to insure your home. WETT inspections are especially important if you’re moving into a property that already has a wood stove installed. In some cases, these are DIY jobs where the previous homeowner has installed the stove in on their own to save a few bucks instead of paying for a professional to do it. These “weekend projects” are often not up to code and are generally unsafe, creating a serious fire risk. If you’re planning on installing a new wood stove, hire a licensed contractor to do it – don’t try to do it yourself.
So, what’s involved in an inspection? Basically, a certified professional will pay you a visit to see if your wood stove is safe to use. They’ll check if the stove meets building codes, if it was properly installed, if it’s working properly, and if it’s releasing harmful pollutants into your home. They might also check out your roof to make sure there aren’t any structural or ventilation issues with the chimney.
Keep in mind that you should have your wood stove inspected every 12 months – and of course, this means you’ll also have to properly maintain it throughout the year.
Getting a WETT inspection won’t just help you secure the right insurance for your home. It’ll also give you peace of mind knowing that your wood stove is up to code, to protect your home and the health and safety of your family.
Heads up! All homes (whether you have a wood-burning stove or not) must have a smoke detector on every storey and outside of sleeping areas. For added protection, install a carbon monoxide detector as well. Remember to replace your batteries once a year.
What is wood stove vs. pellet stove insurance?
When it comes to cost, here isn’t much difference between the two. Even though they’re generally considered to be more environmentally friendly, pellet stoves are still a fire risk so your insurance premium will more than likely increase if you decide to get one.
Can I get insurance if I have a wood stove in my garage?
It’s up to the insurer whether or not they’ll provide coverage for a home with a wood stove in the garage – but, they often won’t. The typical garage is probably the number one place you don’t want errant sparks and open flames since they usually contain things like oil, grease, jerry cans, propane, solvents and other flammables. Insurance providers are well aware of this risk, and could decline to offer home insurance if there’s a wood stove in your garage.
Can an insurance company deny coverage for my wood stove?
It’s possible, yes. Insurers set their own rules for what they will or won’t accept when it comes to wood stoves. Some, for example, won’t insure homes with very old models – so you might need to make repairs or even upgrade your wood-burning stove before you can get home insurance. This is why it’s so important to disclose this information up front to a potential insurer.
Remember, an improperly installed or maintained wood stove could result in disaster – think the loss of your home, or worse. Get it inspected, and have it fixed or replaced if you have to. If you have or if you’re planning on installing a new wood stove in your house, make sure you tell your insurance company.