Energy crisis triggers increased fire risk as people try to use "alternative" light and heath sources to spare on energy costs

2 November 2022 — Daniela GHETU
Energy crisis triggers increased fire risk as people try to use
German insurers recently warned consumers not to engage in risky "experiments" as they try out makeshift alternatives to heat their homes as the nation navigates an energy crisis, Reuters said.

German officials have called on residents to curb their energy use after Russia cut gas supplies to Germany in the wake of the Ukraine war, and energy prices have surged.

The GDV insurance lobby said it was understandable that homeowners and apartment dwellers were looking for alternatives to save money but said some methods are unsuitable for warming living spaces over a long period of time.

GDV pointed to fads making the rounds on social media like tea light ovens, which the lobby said could create fires. It also warned against misuse of devices like gas heaters, such as those designed for outside terraces.

"We are concerned to see what adventurous means some tenants and homeowners are resorting to. We strongly advise against dangerous experiments," said GDV chief executive Joerg Asmussen.

Similar warnings came from several insurers across the world. For example, research performed by Zurich Insurance found out that about 13% Britons - or about 6.8 million people - could light candles to keep energy bills down this winter as energy bills in the UK increased by more than 25% and increasing life costs in general left many households with difficulties in covering energy costs. So far, the number of fires in England reached its highest peak since 2010. "Fires caused by candles can leave homeowners facing average repair bills of GBP 18,000. Last year, Zurich saw 22 claims involving candles, including a GBP 140,000 blaze from a candle that was left unattended," the British insurer said.

Zurich also found out that about 7% of Britons will also save energy costs by using an open fire to heat one room in their home. Blazes caused by open fires and standing heaters also hit a large number, causing in many cases large damages.

In fact, even before the current energy crisis, fire was one of the main insurance claims reasons in property insurance. According to an Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) research that has analyzed more than 530,000 insurance claims that occurred in over 200 countries and territories between 2017 and 2021, fires have resulted in more than EUR 18 billion worth of insurance claims over the period, while for corporate insurance they represented the largest single identifies cause of loss. The average fire/explosion claim value in corporate insurance reached as much as EUR 1.5 million.

"Overall, these claims have an approximate value of EUR 88.7 billion, which means that the insurance companies involved have paid out - on average - over EUR 48 million every day for five years to cover losses," the AGCS research found.

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