One of the most common questions we are asked is ‘am I insured if I have my chimney swept?’. There is a lot of confusion around the legal requirements with regards to insurance and using your fireplace. We have tried to address the concerns we hear in the section below.
Legal requirements & Insurance Claims
At the moment it is not a legal requirement in the UK to have your chimney swept. Perhaps it should be given the unnecessary risk to life and the financial cost of the fire service attending Chimney Fires (on average over 7,700 per year). As fires burn they produce soot and creosote, both of which are combustible. If they catch alight inside the chimney this is what is known as a chimney fire.
A chimney fire can cause serious structural damage to the chimney and surrounding walls and as the chimney is a confined space it can generate extreme heat which can cause anything near to the chimney to catch alight, quickly spreading the fire around the house. This is an extremely important reason for have your chimney swept regularly. It is a legal requirement in much of Europe so no doubt we will catch up one day soon.
Insurance Claim Realities
If you have a chimney fire or there is a fire in your property that is somehow caused by your fireplace, or perhaps you have smoke damage due to smoke not escaping through the chimney as it should do, you may have difficulty making an insurance claim if you haven’t had your chimney swept. An insurance company will state that you have a duty of care when using a fireplace, stove or any kind of heating appliance, to take every precaution possible to ensure the it is used properly and safely.
Professional chimney sweeps that have been trained by one of the three nationally recognised organisations – A.P.I.C.S. (The Association of Professional Independent Chimney Sweeps – they trained us), N.A.C.S (The National Association of Chimney Sweeps) and The Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps, will issue you with a certificate confirming the sweep has taken place. The certificate will include the date of the sweep and any relevant feedback or comments about the sweep. You can use this certificate to demonstrate to your insurance company that you have taken appropriate precautions to ensure your chimney is safe to use and as long as you have the chimney swept regularly, this should satisfy them.
If you can’t produce a certificate confirming the fireplace is swept regularly, you may find your insurer will reject your claim and you might have a legal battle on your hands to get them to accept it.