Are metal chimneys more dangerous? An insurance provider explains

[Kristel Kobi | 27.07]

This year has been a particularly fiery one for Seesam’s insurance customers: in addition to minor fire damage, a total of six buildings have been severely affected by fires so far in 2023, with their restoration costing in the range of 120,000-360,000 euros. Noticeable among statistics are a number of cases in which the fires started in metal chimneys.

Line Manager of Seesam Property Insurance Kristel Kobi says the chimneys in question were all 5-8 years old and had been installed incorrectly: either flush to an existing structure or too close to one. The greatest amount of fire damage involving such chimneys was 250,000 euros.

“These incidents show that in addition to the routine checking and maintenance of heating elements, it pays to assess the safety of metal chimneys if they were installed a number of years back,” Kobi advises.

Other causes of fires? Pets, fridges, mirrors and more
Along with chimneys, electrical appliances often spark fires: refrigerators, for example, and the batteries of power tools that have been left to recharge. But they are not the only causes. “There are always a few homeowners every year who use plastic containers to store ash in when they’re cleaning their stove or fireplace,” Kobi adds. “Sadly, we’ve already had one fire this year that started in this way.”

Claims have also been made for fires started not through carelessness, but simply due to a combination of unfortunate circumstances. For instance, one fire earlier this year was set off by the sun striking a magnifying mirror. Other incidents have been caused by pets which have managed to switch stovetops on, leading to items resting on them or food in pans to catch fire.

“Unfortunately, some fires are so intense that it can be impossible to determine the exact cause of the blaze,” Kobi reveals.

On top of the cost of restoring the living space, claims for fires must also take into account the destruction of household items, which in the case of extensive fires can run to between 20,000 and 50,000 euros. So far this year, the highest cost paid out by Seesam to restore a home and replace its contents was 400,000 euros.

“Some very simple things can help you ensure fire safety,” Kobi explains. “Avoid placing any ash in combustible containers, for starters. In summer cottages that aren’t being lived in permanently, it’s a good idea to unplug all appliances from the mains. And candles are problematic in the darker months and should never be left unattended or in rooms with small children. Plus you should keep an eye on elderly relatives, whose risk awareness might not be as keen as it once was.”

Kobi also urges people to take the weather into account when barbecuing. “If it’s windy, you should never grill anything too close to the house,” she notes. “People tend to forget that charcoal and wood-burning barbecues aren’t allowed to be used on terraces, and should be kept two and five metres away from any building, respectively. Under no circumstances should you set a bonfire closer than eight metres from a building either, and in fact if the bonfire’s more than a metre in diameter it should be 15 metres away.

Moreover, cinders should be stored as far as possible from timber sheds, woodpiles and other flammable materials, even if it seems there’s no heat left in them at all.”


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Insurance is provided by Compensa Vienna Insurance Group, ADB Estonian Branch, which operates under the Seesam trademark in Estonia. Before concluding policies, please read the terms and conditions at and consult an expert if needed.
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