Home working fire risks
3 September 2021
Pizza ovens, fire pits and BBQs were incredibly popular purchases or projects during lockdown, as was the rise in working from home in a ‘shoffice’ – which resulted in an increased chance of fire.
A major insurer warned that outbuilding fires – in sheds, garages and conservatories – rose by 16% last year compared with 2019. The popularity of conversions to home offices, gyms and social spaces increased the fire risk. Three-quarters of areas in the UK recorded more fires, the data shows.
Phil Ost, from insurer Zurich, said: “Aside from storing gardening tools, our sheds and garages have become a haven to escape the stresses of family life and for others, a place to work. But as they take refuge in their garden sheds and garages, it appears to have sparked a rise in accidental blazes.”
Another survey by insurer Aviva, suggested that one in 10 of those asked worked from a converted shed, garage or summerhouse – a proportion expected to rise to 13%. The popularity of ‘shoffices’ (shed offices) has risen, with some people investing in bespoke garden rooms with all the luxury of home.
However, analysts said some people risked invalidating their insurance, or any subsequent claim, if they don’t inform their insurer about any changes to their property, especially if it’s new purpose increases risks. There is also the risk that expensive equipment in less secure locations, such as laptops left in an unsecure shed, may not be covered if it’s stolen or damaged.
Pizza ovens and fire pits only add to the existing fire risks created in gardens by mowers, barbecues, and paint thinners. As the good weather ends, those still working in the shed or garden room may increase the risk even further with the use of patio or bar heaters.
Zurich collected data from UK fire authorities highlighted that there were 3,681 residential outbuilding fires recorded in 2020, compared with 3,170 the year before.
Whilst insurers appreciate the changes we’ve all had to make to our working environments and our lifestyles since March 2020, there has now been sufficient opportunity to reflect any changes at renewal, or notify your insurer of any changes to your property or contents limits. If you haven’t, act now or any claims you need to make may be rejected in future. ALWAYS keep your insurance details up-to-date.
If you need any help or advice arranging your home insurance, contact our Private Client Team on 0115 942 0111 or email [email protected] – we’re always here to help.