Insurers could be bracing for more fire claims as consumers turn to candles to cut energy costs 

House fire claims caused by candles have hit a record high as consumers increasingly cut back on electric lighting due to escalating energy bills.

Fire crews tackled 940 blazes caused by candles in the year to March 2020 – the most it had seen since 2010.

According to Zurich’s analysis of Home Office data released today (12 October 2022), this represented a 7% year-on-year increase from the previous year.

These fires were often dangerous, with 11 people dying as a result of fires started by candles in the same period – 301 people were also injured. 

The insurer is warning that this figure could rise even higher this year as struggling members of the public turn to candles to reduce their electricity bills – Zurich’s research, conducted between 5 and 8 September 2022, found that 13% of Brits could turn to candles to keep energy bills down this winter.

Last year, Zurich saw 22 claims involving candles, including a £140,000 claim originating from an unattended flame.

Repair bills for fires started by candles average at £18,000, according to the insurer.

Paul Redington, a property claims expert at Zurich UK, said: “Accidental blazes could climb higher this winter as households use candles to keep energy bills down, or cope with potential blackouts.

“The energy crisis is forcing people to make tough and potentially more hazardous choices over how they heat and light their home.

”Home-owners should always keep candles in secure holders, blow them out before leaving a room and ensure naked flames are well away from soft furnishings, such as curtains and duvets.”

Zurich also noted that candle fires can increase during October and November due to Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night. 

Open fires

Zurich’s analysis of Home Office data also highlighted the dangers of open fires and standing heaters – 733 blazes were caused by use of these in the year ending March 2022, resulting in 18 deaths and 137 casualties. 

The insurer’s research found that 7% of Brits were planning to save on energy costs by using an open fire to heat their home.

In April, a Zurich customer escaped unharmed when her duvet caught fire on an electric heater, causing £200,000 of damage.


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