Household and domestic fire claims

With Whirlpool still recalling washing machines we look over the claims made in 2019 and how to prevent these types of fires from occurring...

In 2019 we investigated 103 claims for domestic fires, sadly the majority of these were as a result of some kind of electrical fault causing highly dangerous static electricity. Some were very serious and shocking for our customers who endured months away from their homes without their personal belongings and considerable disruption to their lifestyle. In several cases, once the fire took hold, it quickly spread through the home causing extensive damage. Fires that commence in the upper floors or at roof level cause the most damage because they spread laterally and are harder to fight and extinguish. Inevitably, these fires bring down the roof, ceilings and damage the main reception rooms, kitchen and dining areas below where most of the valuables and essentials for comfortable domestic life are stored. If the fire doesn’t damage them, then the impact of falling debris and extinguishment water from the fire hoses certainly will. 

To restore a fire damaged home it is necessary to clear out the household contents to the skip or store items that can be saved. It is often necessary to demolish dangerous sections of the building and then strip back to prepare a blank canvas to commence the task of piecemeal restoration. Repairing homes to meet current building regulations adds a layer of additional work, time and cost. This can include the considerable expense of electrical rewiring and installation of air conditioning, audio, lighting and security services.

The causes of house fires are usually very mundane and uncomplicated. We can take all the necessary prevention measures but sometimes it would just help if we arranged an electrical inspection in our homes rather than just believing it has been fine for years and that we are safe. Hands up those that have not carried out an electrical safety test when moving to a new home. 

The same level of diligence applies to electrical appliances, especially white goods. Last year we had five serious domestic fires caused by dishwashers, washing machines and tumble dryers and several more under business insurances for nurseries and laundries. Often the explanation was that these appliances were started before leaving the home unoccupied or before bedtime. Because of the location – laundry/utility rooms, there was plenty of flammable material around to get a good fire going. Customers say they rarely check their appliances for corrosion, water damage or the dangerous build-up of flammable lint. We need to encourage our people to make more checks and take better care to avoid the worst happening.

You may have read on the news about the Whirlpool drier recall, so we strongly encourage customers to check their appliance to help protect themselves. Whilst we’re here to help put things right, we would hate for a client to lose prized possessions and heirlooms which are irreplaceable.

 

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