The start of the heating season has increased the frequency of heating equipment related accidents, which particularly often occur due to disregard for fire safety regulations. Eight such insurance claims have been made this year, in six of which more than 100,000 euros have been disbursed, according to data of BTA Baltic Insurance Company (BTA).
The largest insurance indemnity paid under a single policy this year exceeded 20,000 euros for a fire at the beginning of this year, which had started in the flue of a recently burned fireplace. “Another fire, where the compensated losses amounted to 11,500 euros, had started in the chimney,” the major insured events this year accounts BTA Insurance Claims Handling Department Director Kārlis Liepiņš.
A huge fire risk increasing factor is homeowners’ carelessness and willingness to save time and funds, including on heating systems’ maintenance costs, which may run them into a lot severer losses in the long term.
“Each apartment or house owner and manager should realize that threats to property and human health and life are not comparable to expenses for property maintenance and insurance,” emphasizes K. Liepiņš.
He also reminds of the mandatory requirement to install smoke detectors to give a timely smoke warning to the inhabitants. For this reason, BTA will present anyone purchasing Home insurance policy until December 1, with a smoke detector, thus taking care of the safety of its customer homes and health.
According to data summarized by the State Fire and Rescue Service of Latvia (hereinafter – SFRS), a total of 472 fires were registered during 2018, and 262 fires – this year by now, the likely reasons of which have been uncleaned flues, incorrectly built or damaged heating systems, as well as violations of their maintenance regulations.
17 people lost their lives in heating system operation related fires last year, and 43 persons were injured. This year, heating system malfunction induced fires have claimed the lives of 12 persons already, with 21 person injured, moreover, this year’s heating season has just recently started, therefore this statistics is most likely to change.
The SFRS reminds that soot must be cleaned from stoves and fireplace flues prior to the start of the heating season, which best would be accomplished by an appropriately trained or certified chimney sweep, although, if owners of private houses are knowledgeable of how to clean chimneys, they may take care of it themselves. Soot from chimneys, stove and fireplace flues must be cleaned prior to the start of the heating season (until November 1), while flues of long burning solid fuel heating appliances and devices need to be cleaned yet additionally once during the heating season (from November 1 to March 1 next year). Along this, the overall heating system technical condition needs to be inspected once in five years, which may be done by a certified specialist.
Inspection of the technical condition of heating appliances and devices, operating on gas as the burning fuel, as well as their cleaning and technical maintenance are required to be performed not less than once a year, unless the manufacturer has specified otherwise. When a heating appliance has been disconnected for a period longer than six months, an extra inspection of exhaust gases channelling ducts and ventilation ducts is required before operation.
Fires, claiming lives, damaging health and property, can be avoided by regular cleaning of smokestacks, inspecting the technical condition of heating appliances, as well as installing a smoke detector, emphasize the SFRS.
BTA Baltic Insurance Company is one of the leading insurance companies in the Baltics, offering the broadest range of non-life insurance services in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. BTA employs more than 1,000 employees in the Baltics. The largest shareholder of BTA is Vienna Insurance Group AG with close to 200 years of experience in the insurance business. With about 50 companies in 25 countries and more than 25,000 employees, Vienna Insurance Group is a clear market leader in its CEE markets. Vienna Insurance Group is the best-rated company of ATX, the leading index of Vienna Stock Exchange with a rating of A+ with stable outlook from Standard & Poor’s; its share is also listed on the Prague Stock Exchange.
Marketing and Public Relations Department Director
BTA Baltic Insurance Company AAS