Outdoor fire pits and your property insurance

In light of the restrictions currently in place due to the pandemic, many people have forgone their vacation and travel plans and are spending more time in their backyards.  We have recently received calls from our clients asking if they have coverage if a fire occurs during the use of a backyard fire pit.   The honest answer is it depends.

The first thing to verify is that use of a fire pit is legal in your area. In order to comply with your insurance requirements, it is important to follow the bylaws of your municipality.  Some areas have rules in place regarding what type of appliances are acceptable, such as banning the use of open-air wood burning units and requiring a fire pit with a cover, or banning wood-burning units and only allowing propane or gas burning units.  Some municipalities require a permit.  We encourage you to call your local municipality or visit their website to ensure that you are complying with the regulations.

It is also important to verify that the current regulations permit gatherings if you wish to have people over to spend time together outside.

When discussing coverage relating to fire pits and outdoor fireplaces, it is important to remember that insurance companies have different rules and restrictions so we also encourage you to verify with your broker to understand the coverage inclusions and restrictions included on your specific insurance policy form. 

Typically, a homeowner insurance policy covers damage to your property (home, detached structures, and contents) as well as liability in the event of third party damage, for example, an injured guest or a fire resulting in damages to a neighbor’s property. It is important to review your property insurance limits with your broker to verify that you have adequate insurance coverage in the event of an incident, particularly a fire that could lead to a total loss of your home.  This could be particularly relevant if you have upgraded your backyard by adding a swimming pool or deck, the cost of these upgrades need to be calculated in the reconstruction cost of your home.

While many companies apply a surcharge for an auxiliary heating source inside your home, this typically does not apply if the unit is outside and not attached to your home. Again, this is something you need to verify with your broker.

To facilitate settlement of a potential claim, we encourage you to keep records and photos of your property, which will allow you to reconstruct the damaged area or replace damaged possessions with similar quality materials and items. Rozon Insurance Brokers Ltd. encourages you to email us photos of your home, this can greatly assist the adjusters in helping you settle a claim. If this is not an option, we may be able to send someone to photograph your dwelling, depending on the location.

If you rent your dwelling or own a condominium, we also encourage you to check with your property owner or condominium association to be certain that you are permitted to use a backyard fire pit to avoid any issues in the event of a loss.

As always, we encourage clients of Rozon Insurance Brokers Ltd. to contact us directly with specific questions or concerns, it is always our pleasure to assist you with your insurance needs.