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Home insurance companies usually cover wood stoves or pellet stoves as long as you meet the conditions for coverage. These conditions vary according to the provider, but typically include professional installation and a safety check by an official inspector.
Insurers tend to be more cautious about providing policies to homes that rely on stoves as the only source of heating. This means if you intend to use only your wood-burning or pellet stove to heat your house, you may have a harder time getting coverage than other customers.
What are the insurance requirements for wood-burning stoves?
Your insurance provider may only offer you insurance if your wood or pellet stove was professionally installed or if it meets local fire codes. If the insurer requires a licensed contractor to install the stove, expect to pay an extra fee for this service.
If you've installed your own stove, or if it was installed before you bought the property, you might have to provide documentation to prove your stove is safe before the insurer agrees to cover you. You may also need to provide certification that your wood or pellet stove model has been inspected for defects. If you own a wood- or pellet-burning stove, your insurance provider considers you responsible for maintaining the device and may conduct ongoing inspections to verify that your stove remains in good condition.
It isn't uncommon for your homeowners policy to exclude coverage if your stove causes damage. Most policies do provide protection if a fire damages your dwelling or personal property. Sometimes, however, policies have provisions that exclude coverage to damages from faulty or inadequate workmanship, installation and maintenance.
Imagine you install your own wood-burning stove. If your insurance provider does not require an inspection and your home burns down, your policy may not cover you if the fire was a result of your own workmanship.
Does a wood-burning stove increase home insurance premiums?
Your premiums will likely increase if you have a wood-burning or pellet stove, but the increase is usually insignificant. You might see higher costs from wood stoves than from pellet types because wood-burning stoves cause far more residential fires. Instead of increasing your premiums, companies could also impose a separate charge if you install a wood- or pellet-burning stove.
It's possible that your insurer may treat your wood stove like a space heater or similar heating appliance. If this is the case, having a wood stove may not increase your premiums.
Homeowners insurance and wood stoves
Your home insurance provider will probably send an inspector to your property after you inform them about your wood-burning stove. If they require an inspection, your insurer won't cover you until you've passed. A wood-burning stove, like a conventional fireplace, requires a connection to a chimney to regulate heat and transport harmful gases out of the living space.
Insurance inspectors will check that your stove's connection to the chimney is clear, well-sealed and aligns with your local fire codes. Inspectors may also check the chimney itself for cleanliness and for a top cover before they sign off on your stove.
If you have a wood-burning stove, your insurer might require annual or semiannual checks to make sure your home does not present an insurance risk. Most safety guidelines specify that you clear the 3 feet surrounding the fireplace or stove or fit the area with a screen to prevent sparks from spreading. An inspector might also want to confirm that your wood stove and chimney are clear of creosote — a soot-like and highly flammable byproduct of wood.
Homeowners insurance and pellet stoves
Pellet stoves often have smaller effects on home insurance premiums because they are much less likely to cause house fires than wood-burning models. Pellet stoves heat compressed wood pieces or sawdust instead of logs. This method is more cost-efficient, cleaner and doesn't cause jumping sparks.
Because they burn cleaner fuel, pellet stoves don't create a large creosote buildup. Your pellet stove also does not need a chimney connection for ventilation. Any ongoing inspection that your provider requires for your pellet stove might be less rigorous than if you had a wood-burning stove.
Unlike wood-burning stoves, pellet stoves do need a power source. They have to run an auger to feed pellets into the stove's burning compartment. For insurance purposes, keep a battery backup for the pellet stove, as insurance providers have very specific exclusions related to losses from power failure.
Some insurers won't cover losses from power failures unless you lose power because of weather, fires or other insured perils. Imagine that the power fails at a utility plant, but the failure isn't caused by weather or another peril insured against. Let's say that this outage causes you to lose power, too. If the power failure harms the circuitry of your electronically-heated pellet stove, you might not be able to file a claim to replace it.