Barbecuing risks to your property and home insurance

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The silly season is finally here and up and down the land self-proclaimed barbecue ‘experts’ are gearing up for a long, hot summer of burning the sausages, steaks and fish that they throw on the barbie. scene_email_small_bbq

But food’s not all they might be burning. Boozy barbecues were the root cause of £617million of claims on insurance in the UK for fire damage over a recent two-year period.

Barbecue ‘experts’ can be a liability

When it comes to barbecues everyone seems to be an ‘expert’, but in reality few people actually are.

Throw in a ton of booze, hot weather and the distraction of friends and family milling around and barbecues are a recipe for disaster.

Reasons barbecues can cause mayhem

The reasons for barbecues being at the root of many home cover claims are many and varied.

Some of the main causes include barbecues being used either too near or even inside the home itself, as well as too close to items made of flammable material such as tents, gazebos, wooden sheds, barns, trees and bushes.

And more and more people now use gas barbecues instead of wood or charcoal. But the improper storage and misuse of propane gas bottles which power gas barbecues can be lethal.

Barbecuing safety tips

Tips for ensuring a safe barbecuing season include:

  • Never barbecue indoors, even if the weather’s terrible.
  • Never use a barbecue inside any structure that could easily catch fire, such as a tent, gazebo, shed or fence.
  • Place or build the barbecues at least 10 feet away from your home, or other buildings.
  • Don’t ignite or ‘boost’ a barbecue’s fire with petrol or lighter fuel squirted from a bottle.
  • Keep the barbecue away from bushes and trees.
  • Place disposable barbecues on non-flammable surfaces when using them.
  • Try not to drink alcohol when in charge of a barbecue, or if you do, make sure it’s in moderation.
  • Keep a water spray bottle, watering can or fire extinguisher close to hand.
  • Allow charcoal to completely cool before disposing of it, preferably in a metal container.
  • Store gas cylinders upright to prevent leakage.
  • Check the hose attached to the cylinder of a gas barbecue for any cracks or blockages.
  • Use long grilling tools to keep hands, arms and clothing away from the heat. And if you have long hair, pin it back!

Barbecue-related cover claims soar in the summer

Here at Policy Expert we’ve recently had a spate of claims related to barbecues and people clearly need warning of the dangers, both to themselves and their finances.

In one a recent claim, a Policy Expert customer advised that sparks from the fire had come in through an open window and set the curtains and sofa alight. Fortunately the customer noticed this happen so the fire was quickly bought under control and extensive damage was prevented . But the damage could’ve been a lot worse.

Why a barbecue-related claim can put up your home cover premiums

Once you’ve claimed, rightly or wrongly you’re seen as a greater ‘risk’ by insurers, and claiming means you lose any no claims history you might have built up, pushing up your insurance premiums.

You also have to pay the excess on any claim. The ‘excess’ is the first part of a claim which nearly all policies stipulate you have to pay. Ordinarily this might be around £150, but could be much more depending on the terms of your cover.

Third-party injuries

Personal injury is also a danger, and if someone who is burned or injured in some other way while attending a barbecue at your home decides it’s your fault, and sues you, the resulting claim could be huge.

Barbecue accident claims could be rejected

Additionally, insurers might decide a barbecue-related accident was due to ‘negligent’ behaviour on the part of the householder and reject the claim.

When people do such daft things as squirt lighter fuel over lit charcoal, set up barbecues in a highly flammable tent or on a carpet inside a home, it’s easy to see why insurers might take such a stance.

Policy Expert

If your home is your haven, you’ll want it to have the best protection. Compare home insurance quotes from our range of handpicked insurers and tailor a policy to suit you. For more information speak to one of our experts on 0330 0600 600 or email ask@policyexpert.co.uk

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Policy Expert.