Careless smokers set alight flower pots as well as houses[14.07]
Dagmar Gilden, Product Manager of Seesam's Home Insurance, says that insurance claims handlers working for the insurance undertaking have started seeing more and more cases of significant proprietary damage due to smoking in the garden or on the balcony.
“The most insidious of threats are cigarette butts that haven’t been fully extinguished. Smokers tend to hide them away in flower pots, thinking that dirt will put out the cigarette. However, there have been cases where such ‘planted’ cigarette butts ignite the flower pot, balcony furniture and balcony finishings,” says Gilden. She adds that ashes and cigarette butts do in fact call for special containers, which can also be filled with water for added safety.
According to Gilden, special care should be taken when smoking near flammable substances, since glowing cigarettes often do not need to be in actual contact with a flammable substance – vapours alone can be enough to trigger an explosion.
“Seesam recently handled a case where a friend who was standing next to a person pouring petrol into a lawnmower lit a cigarette and the subsequent explosion caused extensive damage to the building itself as well as to valuable household property inside the building. Damages amounted to more than 100,000 euros. A careless act like that can have tragic consequences but can also result in a hefty claim for the person who caused the damage,” says Seesam’s representative.
According to Gilden, the summer season is a good time to brush up on your knowledge of fire safety rules. After all, beautiful and dry summer eves come with the greatest risk of a fire. “The Estonian Rescue Board has put together an easy-to-follow guidance material with basic rules that will help prevent fires. People tend to forget that charcoal or wood-burning barbecues are not allowed on terraces and such equipment should accordingly be kept two to five metres away from any buildings. Under no circumstances should a bonfire be built closer than eight metres from a building, and for bonfires whose diameter is more than one metre, the distance should be 15 metres,” says Seesam’s representative, listing the basics of safe barbecuing.
In 2022, Seesam Insurance has paid out indemnities in excess of 60% compared with the same period last year. According to Gilden, both the number of fires and the average indemnity have increased.
“The average indemnity in the first five months of 2022 was 12,600 euros, almost 20% higher than a year ago. The largest indemnity amount so far this year was 215,000 euros. The cost of some of the sites being restored today could reach more than a quarter of a million euros,” says Gilden, “Insurance cases aren’t always caused by carelessness or stupidity – some fires start simply because of a series of unfortunate events. Therefore, it’s best to make sure that your home or summer house is insured against the risk of fire – this way, you can be certain that an unforeseen accident won’t cause irreparable damage to your savings account.”