Are Space Heater Fires Covered By Insurance?

As a homeowner, you should be aware of what your insurance covers and what it does not in order to be better prepared in the case of a disaster. Three types of coverage are included in a conventional house insurance policy:

  • Liability insurance, which covers bodily injury to people on your property.
  • Personal property insurance compensates you if you lose your valuables within your home.

House fires are covered by both dwelling and personal property insurance. Your coverage limitations, on the other hand, will influence how much you are compensated for a claim. You will be responsible for the remaining costs if the fire was caused by your space heater and the damages exceed your policy’s coverage limit. When you file a claim, your insurance company will look into the circumstances that led to the incident, as well as if carelessness or fire safety rules were broken.

Space heaters are responsible for over 25,000 house fires each year, with over 300 deaths, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters are responsible for 43 percent of home fires, and portable heating equipment fires caused $1.3 billion in property damage in the United States in 2014.

Requirements for space heaters

A supplemental heating device is useful for keeping the house warm in the winter and reducing the expense of heating. Space heaters, on the other hand, are a known cause of house fires, costing insurance companies millions of dollars each year in claims. As a result, if you install a space heater in your home, your insurance costs are likely to rise. In the event of a heater fire, the material and installation of the heater or wood stove may affect your claim award. To comply with fire safety requirements, it is normally advised that a heater be installed by a professional.

When you install a heater or wood burner, you must not only notify your insurance carrier, but you must also ensure that the equipment meets all safety regulations, has an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Intertek label, and is subject to regular checks and inspections. According to the National Fire Protection Association, space heaters should only be used on the floor, connected into a wall socket, and never left unattended.

Although space heaters are useful for adding warmth to a home, making the following mistakes can lead to a fire:

Do space heaters increase homeowners insurance rates?

Heating systems may have a direct impact on the cost of homeowner’s insurance. Your rates will usually be affected by the type of heating equipment you use, though the exact impact will vary from one company to the next. The reason for this is simple: the higher your heating system’s danger of causing a fire, the higher your insurance premiums will be.

Because such systems have a lesser risk of creating a fire, employing a central heating system powered by electricity or natural gas in your home may not have much of an impact on your insurance premiums. However, if you have an oil-fired furnace, a wood stove, or a space heater, your insurance premiums may go up due to the greater danger of a house fire. Insurers are always mindful of such dangers and the potential losses they may face. Because costs vary across the industry, speaking with your insurer or a local agent is the best approach to learn about the impact on your home insurance premium.

Why did my space heater catch on fire?

Portable space heaters can be a pleasant source of supplementary heat in a home as the weather becomes colder (hello puffy coats and winter boots). However, as instances of house fires caused by portable heaters continue to make news, many people are asking: are portable heaters dangerous?

The following are some examples of news reports that are both common and tragic: A space heater is being blamed for a house fire in Kentucky that killed a mother and her eight children. A fire in Georgia killed a mother and her son after clothing ignited by a space heater. In Rhode Island, an 85-year-old woman was killed after a towel put on top of a heater caught fire. A grandmother, two preschoolers, and two toddlers were killed in a fire started by a first-floor space heater in Pennsylvania. They couldn’t escape because their windows were nailed shut to prevent break-ins.

Heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires in the United States, and the third-leading cause of home fire fatalities, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Portable and permanent space heaters were responsible for nearly half of all home heating fires between 2011 and 2015, as well as an astounding 85 percent of home heating fire deaths. Two out of every five deaths in space heater-related fires are attributed to portable electric space heaters.

Most space heater fires happen between December and February, which is unsurprising. While only 18 percent of space heater fires occur between the hours of midnight and 8 a.m., the NFPA says that these sleeping hours account for nearly half of all deaths.

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, portable heaters cause an estimated 25,000 fires each year.

But here’s the thing: most of the time, the issue isn’t that portable heaters aren’t safe; it’s that they’re used improperly. Heating equipment positioned too close to flammable objects, such as upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, curtains, bedding, paper, or flammable liquids, is the major cause of space heater fires. A large fire can easily occur if a heater is left on and unattended and ignites.

Watch this video from Good Morning America to see how rapidly a fire started by a space heater can spread:

Does insurance cover broken heater?

The solution is contingent on the cause of the harm. Damage to a furnace or boiler may be covered by homeowners insurance if the damage is caused by a covered risk. However, most policies do not cover normal wear and tear, as well as damage caused by overuse, faulty installation, or a lack of maintenance, or if the item has reached the end of its useful life.

Is a space heater a fire hazard?

Organizations such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) test space heaters (CSA). A portable electric heater that is UL listed, for example, must pass a tip-over test that replicates the most severe tip-over orientation. By formulating voluntary standards, issuing and enforcing rules, and prohibiting harmful consumer items, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) helps to limit space heater dangers. To safeguard consumers, the CPSC maintains a current list of recalled space heaters. The International Fire Code and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) both cover space heaters.

The International Code Council (ICC) covers space heaters in Section 605.10.1-4 of the International Fire Code. The code says that only listed and labeled portable space heaters may be used, that they must be connected into an appropriate socket, and that only listed and labeled portable space heaters may be utilized. While many organizations advise against using an extension cord with space heaters, Section 605.10.3 of the 2018 ICC Fire Code states unequivocally:

The 2018 ICC Fire Code 605.10.4 specifies restricted spaces for space heaters, such as operating them within three feet of any combustible materials and only in places where they are listed.

Space heaters in offices are one of the topics covered in NFPA 1 – 2018, Section 11.5.3. Some staff keep heaters under their workstations. While this may prevent them from tipping over, it also increases the risk of them being forgotten and left on after employees have departed for the day. Combustible materials in close proximity to the space heater, such as plastic garbage receptacles, can also be found under a desk, posing a substantial fire danger. Furthermore, maintaining three feet of clearance under a desk is extremely impossible.

Because of the quantity of current required to operate space heaters, NFPA 1 – 2018, Section 11.5 requires them to be plugged directly into an outlet. Electric space heaters should not be plugged in with extension cords. Based on previous inspection findings that contravene this rule, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) might prohibit the use of space heaters.

Space Heater Recalls

While the majority of space heater fires are caused by closeness to combustibles, space heaters can overheat and cause the units to melt, igniting nearby combustibles. The following are some instances of space heaters recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (

Does insurance cover electrical fire?

Annual inspections by a skilled electrician or licensed electrical inspector may be required to keep your electrical panel covered, especially if the wiring or panel is older. Electrical panels are not indestructible. Heat is constantly passing through the connections, causing them to wear out over time. Your electrical panel could be a fire hazard if it is more than 20 years old. Having your electrical panel’s wiring evaluated once a year will aid with claims if you need to call your homeowners insurance company.

Is it safe to leave space heater on overnight?

It was the winter of 2019, and I was working on the finishing touches for my band’s next album in my unfinished basement. Only a few more guitar overdubs remained, but my fingers were too chilly to perform the sections correctly. So I grabbed a space heater I’d been testing for Wirecutter for a while. I sat it on top of my digital audio workstation’s wooden workbench and plugged it into the nearest power strip, which happened to be the same one that I used to power my half-stack Marshall amplifier.

This was probably not the dumbest thing I’d ever done in my life. But as I stood there watching the sparks fade from the burning ball of newly burned plastic in front of me, I knew it was on the list.

Every year, more than a thousand house fires are caused by space heaters, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Space heaters are involved in around 43 percent of home heating-related fires (which includes devices like water heaters and fireplaces) and 85 percent of connected deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

Despite these alarming statistics, modern space heaters are far safer than they used to be. In a phone interview, Linda Hotz, category director for the Home Comfort team at De’Longhi, remarked, “The electric heaters that I grew up with were open element.” “Today’s heaters are 100 times better, but it still contains a heating element, so it isn’t as safe as, say, an air purifier.” Hotz went on to say that most residential space heaters on the market today (including our recommendations) must be approved by an independent safety testing laboratory like Intertek or UL. These organizations verify that heaters have built-in safety safeguards, such as a thermal shutdown that turns off the electricity when the heater becomes too hot.

Nothing, however, is fool-proof, as my amp action revealed. So, here are a few tips on how to use a heater properly.

Put your space heater on the floor and leave it there

It’s tempting to position your space heater so that it blasts directly in your face. Don’t do that unless you’re lying flat on the floor, which is the only time you should use your space heater. Set it on a shelf, a stool, or a dusty wooden workbench in the basement, not on a shelf, a stool, or a dusty wooden workbench. With all those combustible fabrics and feathery stuffing, don’t lay it on top of your bed. Keep it off the rug if at all possible.

In general, your space heater should be placed on the flattest, smoothest surface possible. The Vornado VHEAT Vintage Heater, for example, lets you tilt the heating element to point it upward; the Vornado VH200 and AVH10 are both inclined somewhat upward by default, but you can’t tilt them any more. Most space heaters have tip-over controls that make tilting them difficult. Even if you think you can get around it, don’t.

Keep it away from water

This should go without saying, but the combination of electricity and water is much more deadly than orange juice and toothpaste. Keep your space heater clear of wet areas like kitchens and bathrooms unless it’s designed and approved for it—which most aren’t. Try a bidet if you want a toasty toilet seat.

Avoid flammable objects, too

It’s known as the “3-foot rule” by the CPSC, and it’s very straightforward: Place a space heater at least 3 feet away from anything flammable. Curtains, papers, furniture, cushions, and bedding are all listed as items to avoid in some guides. Further measures, such as storing combustible objects such as paint and matches far away, are recommended by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM). If there’s even a remote chance that a pillow or other flammable object will fall on the space heater, such as during an earthquake, place it where you think it won’t be hit.

Never leave your space heater alone in the room

The simplest approach to avoid a fire is to never leave a space heater unattended in a room—that way, if something goes wrong, you’ll be able to react fast. Keep a watchful eye on a heater if you have children or pets who could knock it over or drape cloth over it. Children should be kept at least 3 feet away from a space heater, according to the US Fire Administration. Even if it’s unplugged, we don’t place any space heater in a room or closet where young children might reach it—a heater is a 15-amp item that draws a lot of electricity. To a curious toddler, the heater’s socket and cable, paired with some sensible on/off switches, provide a not-so-obvious electrical threat. Most children learn to avoid heat, but only a few anticipate an electric shock.

Many space heaters also come with warnings about leaving them on while sleeping. Several of our recommendations, including the De’Longhi TRD40615T and the Lasko FH500 All Season Comfort Control Tower Fan & Heater in One, have built-in timers to assist you avoid leaving them on unattended. You can program them to turn off after an hour, for example, so you can fall asleep in a cocoon of hot air without risking a fire if you leave them on. (Oil-filled radiators, such as the De’Longhi, are especially useful for bedrooms because they hold heat for longer and continue to produce warmth even after they are turned off.)

How to deal with a cord that’s too long (or not long enough)

This is where we begin to enter the Goldilocks zone. Most modern space heaters should have enough cord slack to allow you to plug them into a wall outlet while keeping them in a convenient location in the room for optimal warmth. It’s worth noting that we said “wall outlet” specifically: Space heaters should not be plugged into surge protectors, extension cables, plug timers, GFCI outlets (the kind with the test and reset buttons), or anything else that isn’t a wall outlet, according to the manufacturers. Those extra layers of electrical connection can raise your chances of overloading the circuit or generate additional resistance, allowing heat to build up and perhaps causing a fire or other internal electrical harm. To avoid overheating the wall itself, many manufacturers recommend keeping your space heater a few feet away from the wall where it’s plugged in. Because many of the heaters in our recommendations heat an entire room, you should be able to receive adequate performance even if you keep the heater at a safe distance.

You’ll occasionally find yourself with excess cord slack. Maybe you’ll need to utilize a wall outlet in another room. When you’re in a situation like this, avoid the impulse to hide the cord as it snakes around the corner. Avoid burying it beneath a mat or a couch, as this will prevent heat from escaping. Avoid pinching or bending the cable by passing it through a tightly closed door hinge, for example. This can also obstruct the electrical current, causing heat and energy to build up.

How to add smart controls

In the United States, space heaters with built-in smart-home capability are uncommon as of late 2020. However, both technology and regulatory requirements are rapidly evolving, and we should expect more smart space heater technologies in the next year or two.

Meanwhile, if you need to turn a heater on or off remotely or on a schedule, a few of our recommendations will help. Digital timers are built into the Dyson Hot+Cool Jet Focus AM09, Lasko FH500 All Season Comfort Control Tower Fan & Heater in One, and Vornado OSCTH1. The De’Longhi TRD40615T, our oil-filled radiator option, has an analog 24-hour dial that you can use to create a timetable.

Consider a plug-in smart outlet like the Wemo Mini if your space heater doesn’t have a timer—or if you’re just determined to yell heating commands at your voice assistant. Most space heater manufacturers advise against using an extension cord or surge protector with their heaters. However, a spokesman from the Wemo outlet’s manufacturer, Belkin, informed us in an interview that a Wemo Mini should be safe to use with space heaters that draw up to 15 amps or 1,800 watts of power, validating our understanding of the product specs (most of our picks max out at 1,500 watts). “Some space heaters with inbuilt fans could consume more power and create a high in-rush current, which could harm or wear out the switching contacts,” the Belkin rep cautioned. So you should be good to go—but remember not to turn on a heater remotely unless it’s properly positioned, and never leave a heater running unattended.

Do space heaters catch fire easily?

Typically, small space heaters are used to augment a main heating system. They can be used to heat a single room and save money on the cost of using a central heating system to heat the entire house. A space heater is used in some homes to boost the temperature of specific rooms, such as those used by those who are sensitive to cold, such as the elderly.

The majority of space heaters operate via convection, which circulates warmed air around a room or rooms. Some use radiant heating, which involves producing infrared radiation that heats items and persons in close proximity to the heater.

Radiant heaters are more efficient since they heat individuals and their surroundings directly rather than the entire room. They operate nicely in a single room that requires only a few hours of heating.

However, because radiant heaters heat nearby items, flammable materials close to the heating source can spark a fire. According to the NFPA, more than half of all home heating fire deaths were caused by fires that started when a heater was placed too close to flammable items such upholstered furniture, clothing, mattresses, or bedding.

Electric heaters, like any other electrical item, can cause a shock. Electric heaters, whether radiant or convection, can produce shock if components such as the cord, plug, or housing are destroyed and electrical current is exposed. This has the potential to start a fire or cause an electrical burn. Electric heaters are energy-intensive and can easily overload circuits, resulting in a power outage or a fire.

Natural gas, propane, or kerosene heaters can be hazardous if the fuel escapes and ignites. If carbon monoxide (CO) emissions from heaters are not adequately ventilated, propane and kerosene can cause asphyxiation.

If you decide to use a space heater this winter, safety should be a primary priority. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that over 1,100 fires involving portable electric heaters occur each year, resulting in 50 deaths, hundreds of injuries, and millions of dollars in property damage.

Is furnace covered under home insurance?

Built-in appliances, such as your furnace and other sections of your heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC), are covered by homeowners insurance when they are damaged by a covered loss.

How much does a furnace cost for a 1500 square foot house?

HVAC technicians evaluate the size of your home to identify the most appropriate furnace type and model. The cost of installation is also influenced by the size of the furnace. To heat a home properly, 30 to 50 BTUs per square foot are normally required. A 700- to 1,500-square-foot home, for example, will need a BTU rating of 40,000 to 60,000, which will cost between $2,000 and $3,000. A furnace for a home with a floor area of 2,000 to 5,000 square feet will require between 125,000 and 150,000 BTUs and cost between $3,300 and $6,500.


Before you start a job, make sure you have all of the necessary permissions and pay any additional costs for labor or the type of work you’re doing. A permit might cost anything from $350 to $1,800, depending on the locality. These costs can amount to up to 25% of the overall charge. Many businesses charge a $100 inspection fee to ensure that the equipment is safe and functional. Consider browsing around before deciding on a service because some local gas companies offer free inspections that can help you save money.

Will a new furnace lower home insurance?

Not only may home improvements help you save money on your insurance, but they can also help you save money on your energy expenses. New windows, better insulation, and a new furnace or air conditioning unit can significantly reduce monthly energy expenditures.

What percentage of house fires are caused by space heaters?

Space heaters are involved in 81 percent of deadly house fires caused by heating equipment, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).