Why an Article on Barbecues and Home Insurance?
Recent great weather has meant that we have had some interesting enquiries about thatch, barbecues and home insurance. Fire safety precautions around thatch when you are having a barbecue (or is it barbeque or BBQ?) are important but so is your insurance cover, just in case.
Depending on the type of barbecue you have (e.g. brick built, expensive gas mobile model or even your solid fuel home “made from a wheel” one!) we always recommend you check your insurance cover before burning anything! It may be that the cover includes theft, damage to the barbecue from floods etc. or accidental damage, but also what about its use?
When we started to look at this, the insurance cover became a bit of an interesting topic so, we decided to contact our Thatch Specialist Insurers for some input.
Here’s their limited responses (we only gave them up to 150 words) but feel free to contact them for more information, via the links in each section, should you so require. Their responses are in order received.
Thatch, Barbecues and Home Insurance Responses
The Home Insurer
It’s all about being reasonable when you want a BBQ with our insurers. The requirement is basically to site the BBQ at least 5-metres away from the property. Our view as a broker is the further away the better really as it reduces the risk of any flame, ash or ember getting tangled with the thatch. That’s it, have a great summer and do let us know if we can assist with your thatched home insurance HERE.
NFU Mutual – New Forest, Isle of Wight and Bournemouth
Thatched homes come with a slightly increased risk of fire and a greater risk of fire spreading and causing devastating damage to the home and contents which require specialist tradespeople to repair. Generally, the risk is of stray sparks igniting dry thatch, so all insurers will ask thatched homeowners to take sensible precautions to minimise the risk.
This goes for those having barbecues. Keep them clean, keep them away from the house and from dry grass, shrubbery or bushes. We tend to enjoy barbecues when it is warm and dry, when the risk of fires is highest, so have some water nearby in case a spark sets something alight.
At NFU Mutual, we are here to help our members protect their property and prevent damage to their homes wherever possible. So we’re always happy to discuss, in person or over the phone, the insurance needs of homeowners.
Your barbecue may be covered under the Contents section of your home insurance policy, usually under the ‘Outdoor Items’ section, which often includes garden furniture and statues. The ‘Outdoor Item’ cover itself is usually limited to a set figure, so you should ensure that this amount is enough.
But before we even consider the insurance of the barbecue itself, you need to check your policy wording. That’s because many thatched home insurance policies will have clauses relating to bonfires, patio heaters, chimineas, incinerators, fire pits and barbecues.
You may have a condition on your policy that states that no barbecue under your control can be lit within a set distance of your home. For example, one particular insurer states that “Any bonfire on your land must be situated at a distance of at least 100 metres from your home”. If you are in breach of such a condition and your barbecue causes a fire, you may find yourself uninsured. Contact us.
County Insurance Services
“At County, our policy states that where it is within your control you shouldn’t allow BBQs, fire-pits and chimineas to be within 5 metres of the Home unless you’ve approached us prior to using.
Of over 46,000 domestic incidents attended by UK Fire & Rescue Services in 2020/2021 alone, 435 were for primary fires as a result of Barbecues and various sources of fuel associated with barbecues.
Charlotte Clayton, one of our account handlers specialising in thatch property, advises clients to always keep a small AFFF foam or combined ABF extinguisher nearby like the ones found in domestic kitchens.
A number of clients have changed from traditional charcoal and gas burner cookers to wood-pellet fuelled pizza ovens instead. Often these are better for the environment, can produce a wider variety of food and importantly have a separate compartment for heat that can easily be contained should issues occur.”
As with most aspects of thatch insurance, providers vary considerably on the issue of proximity of bonfires, firepits and barbecues. Some have no restrictions whatsoever, others stipulate a distance greater than the size of many gardens, still others even require that neighbours are contacted to warn of the dangers their fires pose to your thatched roof.
In some cases, these stipulations are non-negotiable, in other instances, underwriters may relax their rules dependent on the specific circumstances.
Why such a disparity in stance? Typically, the risk assessment profile is reactive to specific claims made. In recent years, we’ve had a client claim for fire damage to their neighbour’s and own thatched roofs caused by a garden bonfire. Also, a former client who moved insurer because of the barbecue distance limitation, subsequently suffered a total loss fire claim.
Best advice is to use a reputable broker with access to several thatch insurers.
Barbecues and Home Insurance Conclusion
We would like to thank all of our specialist thatch insurance Associates for their contributions on this thatch, barbecues and insurance article. This is appreciated and so helpful. Increased calls from many thatched homeowners, with concerns during the dry spell, has meant that this article is also well-timed.
There is plenty of information on the internet regarding looking after your barbecues and general safety tips but not so much regarding insurance and any associated implications for thatched property owners. We are pleased to be able to share some of this useful information with you.
Please make sure that you read our Thatch Fire Safety Leaflet. The advice in there is also very important. Remember to be careful of disposal of any ashes (e.g. make sure they are cold!) because we are aware of an incident involving a thatch fire where this was proven to be the cause. Perhaps having this in the back of our minds is why we have decided to write this article? Prevention is best.
In conclusion, please just check your insurance cover before using your barbecues, follow all relevant safety recommendations and then relax and enjoy your outside eating.