Average insurance payout €15,000 following fire, reports AA

AA Ireland receives a slew of home and motor insurance claims every year in the wake of Halloween and is advising homeowners to take extra precautions with their homes and cars to avoid damage from fire and vandalism.

The AA reports that despite accounting for only 4% of the volume of its annual homes insurance claims, in terms of monetary value, domestic fires account for 12% of their home insurance payouts.  “Following a fire, even a relatively minor one, the damage quickly runs into the thousands.” Reports Conor Faughnan, Director of Consumer Affairs AA Ireland.  “Smoke as well as flame is very damaging and based on our own home insurance book, the average cleanup bill works out at €15,000 when building and contents damage are factored in.”

The AA also reveals that over the last year or two many local authorities have introduced fire brigade call out fees for domestic fires for the first time.  Authorities that do not charge fees are now in the minority it reports and while charges vary quite a bit, it calculates the average national fee fixed to be €276 per hour for domestic chimney fires and €414 for all other types of domestic fires.  While some local authorities charge a variable amount based on actual costs incurred, the AA reveals that the highest fixed charges are enforced by Athlone, Westmeath, Louth, Mayo and Roscommon councils.   

“A lot of home owners do not realize that they will have to pay the cost of a fire-brigade call-out.” Says Faughnan. “The amount varies hugely depending on where in Ireland you live. It is very important to check that your insurance policy will cover this cost; not all of them do.”

The AA covers fire brigade call out fees up to €3,000 under its home insurance policies and advises homeowners to check their policies as even false alarms incur a fee with most local authorities these days.

While Halloween presents unique risks caused by bonfires, candles and fireworks, the AA also advises homeowners to assess the everyday fire hazards within their homes.  Cooking, smoking and electrical circuits are the most common origins of domestic fires and the AA can reveal that as many of 14% of respondents in their latest poll admitted to delaying repair to scorched or damaged appliance flexes.  “Damaged cords may have exposed live wires that present both a shock and fire hazard. Don’t put it on the long figure, have the appliance fixed and don’t use it until you do.” Advises Faughnan. “It’s also worth bearing in mind that your home insurance claim can be invalidated if you are found to be negligent.”

Overall however the AA shares that most of the 8,000 respondents they polled have a healthy respect for electrical hazards.  Just 9% of those polled for example said they regularly plug more than 5 electrical appliances in to a single wall socket and 72% said they almost always unplug all their appliances before leaving the house or going to bed for the night. 

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 Notes to editor

 Fig. 1 Fire brigade call out fees charged by City Councils, County Councils, Borough Councils and Town Councils around the state

(Note: hourly rates are based on the attendance of one fire brigade only)

Athlone Town Council Domestic chimney fires: €500 Other domestic fires: €675 per hour per fire brigade.
Carlow County Council Domestic chimney fires: €250Other domestic fires: For other domestic fires charged on the basis of no. of firemen x hourly wage of €19.86 plus any materials used during the call out.
Cavan County Council Domestic chimney fires: €200.Other domestic fires: Fire-fighter’s fees plus additonal 25%
Clare County Council Domestic chimney fires: €150.00Other domestic fires: Actual cost = fire fighter wages + employer PRSI + 60% overheads 
Cork County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: No charges for private dwellings.  Fee for rented properties of €480 per brigade per hour.
Cork City Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: No charges for private dwellings.  Fee for rented properties of €480 per brigade per hour.
Donegal County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: €100.00 per brigade for a domestic call out
Drogheda Borough Council Domestic chimney fires: €300 for a domestic chimney fireOther domestic fires:  €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)
Dublin City Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: €500 for the first hour.  For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged.
Dundalk Town Council Domestic chimney fires: €300Other domestic fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)
Dún Laoghaire – Rathdown County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: €500 for the first hour. For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged.
 Fingal County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: €500 for the first hour.  For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged.
Galway County Council Domestic chimney fires: €300Other domestic fires: €460 p/h
Galway City Council Domestic chimney fires: €300Other domestic fires: €460 p/h
Kerry County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires : €100 flat rate
Kildare County Council Domestic chimney fires: €200Other domestic fires: €500 if less than 2 hours, €1000 for 2-4 hours, in excess of 4 hours, €500 per hour.
Kilkenny County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: €70 per fire fighter p/h to the nearest quarter.
Laois County Council Domestic chimney fires: € 150Other domestic fires: Actual costs inclusive of overheads.
Leitrim County Council Domestic chimney fires: €200Other domestic fires: €400 for first hour, week days.  €200 p/h thereafter.

€800 for the first hour, weekends and bank holidays.  €400 for every hour thereafter.

Limerick County Council Domestic chimney fires: €300Other domestic fires: €450 p/h per brigade
Limerick City Council Domestic chimney fires: €100Other domestic fires: €440 p/h.
Longford County Council Domestic chimney fires: €125
Louth County Council Domestic chimney fires: €7.50 per minute (€450 p/h)Other domestic fires: €10 per minute (€600p/h)
Mayo County Council Domestic chimney fires: €150Other domestic fires: €750 p/h
Meath County Council Domestic chimney fires: €100Other domestic fires: €250
 Monaghan County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: None
N. Tipperary County Council Domestic chimney fires: €366.00Other domestic fires: €433.00 p/h per fire brigade
Offaly County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires: €100 p/h for each of the first two hours.  Fee varies thereafter between €260 – €450 p/h depending on day of week. 
S. Tipperary County Council Domestic chimney fires: €150Other domestic fires: €450 p/h or actual cost of brigade whichever is less up to a max of €1700.
Roscommon County Council Domestic chimney fires: €250Other domestic fires: €500 p/h per brigade for all other daytime domestic fires and €750 p/h per brigade for all other night time, weekend and bank holidays.
Sligo County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:  None.  However, where the fire brigade attend an incident at dwelling type accommodation which is being leased or rented, it shall be charged at the non-domestic rate of€125 per completed quarter hour per fire brigade in attendance, subject to a minimum charge of €500 per hour per brigade.
South Dublin County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:  €500 for the first hour.  For every subsequent hour, a further €450 will be charged.
Waterford County Council Domestic chimney fires: €300Other domestic fires: €500 p/h
Waterford City Council Domestic chimney fires: €300 Chimney FireOther domestic fires: €500 p/h
Westmeath County Council Domestic chimney fires: €500Other domestic fires: €675.00 p/h for each brigade attending
Wexford County Council Domestic chimney fires & other domestic fires:  €350
Wicklow County Council Domestic chimney fires: €250Other domestic fires: Wage cost + 1/3 overheads

 Above fees sourced from the website of respective City Councils, County Councils, Borough Councils and Town Councils around the state or through direct telephone calls carried out on 25/10/12.

Fig. 2 Average local authority rates for fire brigade call out fees for domestic chimney fires and other domestic fires (Figures based on authorities where fixed fees are charged and on the assumption the duration of the call out is 1 hour):

  Average fee
Domestic chimney fires €276
Other domestic fires €414

Fig. 3 Whether or not respondents routinely switch off/unplug electrical appliances before they go to bed/leave their homes (Based on 7,913 responses)

Always 30.7%
Most of the time 41.7%
Seldom 12.7%
Rarely 9.1%
Never 5.7%

Fig. 4 Whether or not respondents have ever ignored or put on the long figure the repair/replacement of a plug socket or cable that had visible signs of damage or scorching (Based on 7,899 responses)

Yes 4.4%
Somewhat 9.9%
No 85.2%
Other 0.5%

Fig. 5 How often if ever respondents estimated they plug more than 5 electrical items into a single wall socket (Based on 7,909 responses

Daily 3.9%
Regularly 5.5%
Seldom 10.9%
Rarely 19.6%
Never 60.1%