One specific case was caused by a mirror in a garden reflecting off the sun and subsequently setting a wheelie bin alight 

Home insurer LV= General Insurance (LV=GI) is currently facing claims costs totalling £1.2m following the UK’s extreme heat wave for related fire incidents between 17-20 July 2022.

Most claims were caused by a fire starting in a nearby open area or heathland that then spread into homeowners’ gardens.

Many of these involve the loss of garages, fences, greenhouses, sheds and tools, garden furniture and decking as well as lost trees, shrubs and flowers.

Meanwhile, 8% of claims involved the total loss of a home.

As a result, LV= is warning that both fire and subsidence claims are growing and could escalate further in the future. 

Sarah Smith, head of home underwriting at LV= GI, said: “This summer we’ve really seen the effects of extreme heat, even from leaving items out in the garden which in usual conditions you wouldn’t expect to catch fire.

“As a country we’re going to need to adapt and ensure existing houses are better protected, as well as really consider the locations planned for new houses which may be in areas more prone to events such as fires starting and spreading rapidly.”

Climate change effects

One specific case cited by LV= involved a mirror that had caused a fire related incident after having been discarded in a garden.The sun’s rays reflected off the mirror and onto a wheelie bin, which subsequently caught fire and spread across the garden and back of the house.

In other cases, compost heaps also helped fuel fires as a highly flammable fuel source. LV= recommends keeping reflective materials out of the sun, putting BBQ cylinders away, making sure fire pits are put out and managing compost heaps.

This year has also seen a peak for subsidence claims too. Between June and July this year, subsidence cases have risen 205% according to the home insurer.

Subsidence is when the ground beneath a property sinks, pulling the property’s foundations down with it.

With a hose pipe ban looming, this month could see a similar trend to 2018 claims in subsidence claims, which rose by 51% compared to 2017.

Currently, soil moisture deficit is at the same levels seen in 2018, which could result in properties sinking because of unstable soil.

LV= GI’s analysis shows that southern and central England have had lower rainfall levels in 2022 than 2018, so far.

Smith added:We’re really starting to see the effects of climate change and the impact this is having on homes – whether that be storm, flood, fire or subsidence claims – which have all risen in recent years to depending on the season.”

The home insurer recommended avoiding using artificial grass to allow water to drain.