Cottage Q&A: Fire insurance for woodstoves

A pile of firewood beside a woodstove By Clarke Colin/Shutterstock

Our cabin has a fireplace and a couple of woodstoves, and it has been insured for fire for many years. The insurance company said it would come and inspect but never has. If there were a fire for any reason, could the company deny a claim if it discovered safety issues after the fact?—Fearful About Fire

Our sources say no. “My gut feeling tells me there is no reason the company would deny the claim,” says Ross Robertson of R. Robertson Insurance Brokers in Toronto. “It’s the company’s responsibility to act on what they said they’d do.” Plus, in Insurance Land, “Fire is fire is fire. It’s usually a basic right of coverage,” says Bev Mitchell, a special risks underwriter for Johnston Meier Insurance Agencies Group in Maple Ridge, B.C. “It’s very difficult for a company to deny a fire claim.”

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Still, have you asked your broker if he or she has all the info needed? Have you checked your documents to make sure there are no limitations in your coverage? “Contact your broker and go over the policy,” says Mitchell. And if something seems dodgy with your current company, get another one. “Insurance is about being above board. You don’t want hassles with the paperwork later.” And you don’t want a cottage fire. Ever.

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“If the cottagers themselves are questioning the stoves or fireplace, they shouldn’t be using them,” says Robertson. Have a WETT-certified inspector check out the appliances if you think they’re hazards. “At the end of the day, the insurance company stands to lose some money. You stand to lose your life.”

This article originally ran in the Fall 2014 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

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