Outdoor wood boilers have become quite common in the north country in recent years. With wood, people save a lot of money over a traditional heat source, and by locating their wood burner outside, they reduce fire danger and the mess associated with an indoor wood stove.
If you are considering installing an outdoor wood boiler, you may be wondering if and how it might affect your Homeowners insurance. The answer is actually that there is not one simple answer. Different insurance companies view outdoor wood boilers quite differently. Some insurance companies may not continue your insurance if you install one. Others may allow the boiler but increase your rates and/or provide certain guidelines that your system must meet. Still other carriers may not care at all that you installed the unit.
Given all the differences on wood boilers from one insurance company to the next, one of the advantages we have as an independent agency is having multiple insurance carriers available to find the right fit for our client's situation.
As I mentioned, some insurance companies may not allow your wood boiler irregardless of your setup and others might not care at all about the system, but I have put together a list of tips that may make it easier to insure your wood boiler, also enhancing the safety of your system at the same time:
Clearance is definitely going to be the biggest concern with many insurance carriers. While clearance requirements may not always be this stringent with every company, many carriers may require that your wood boiler be situated at least fifty feet away from your home, your outbuildings and any other flammables. Some carriers may also want to see a safe clearance from the location that you store the wood for the boiler.
Many insurance companies may want to make sure that your boiler has been tested to be safe by a testing laboratory, UL being the most common. Ask your wood boiler dealer if the unit is UL approved, or look for the UL circle or testing number on the unit's information plate.
Some insurance companies will be concerned about a "do it yourself" job to connect the water pipes in your house, bury and freeze-proof your water lines, etc. While this may not be a deal breaker with every carrier, the best thing you can do is have your new system professionally installed.
While you may have situated your wood boiler away from your buildings, there could still be a danger of a spark exiting the chimney and starting a grassfire, which could still threaten your structures. You can reduce this risk by installing a small device at the top of your chimney called a spark arrester. A spark arrester might cost between $15 and $50 and may be purchased from your wood boiler dealer, from a local supply store or online from popular retailers.
Some insurance companies require that your unit be situated on a solid concrete slab and may also require a concrete apron extend several feet to the front of your boiler.
If you are installing a new wood boiler system and have insurance questions, I'd enjoy hearing from you. Or perhaps you already have an existing wood boiler system and are having insurance issues. Either way, I invite you to contact me to discuss further.
If you need your vehicle towed or other roadside service, there are several places to turn for coverage. If your vehicles is under warranty, many warranties include Roadside Assistance. If you have a AAA membership, this also includes Roadside coverage. Even cell phone carriers are getting into the act, offering optional add-on services which include Roadside assistance among other features.
If you don't get Roadside Assistance coverage through any of these sources, you may wish to add coverage to your Auto policy. There are basically two different types of Roadside coverage offered under Auto policies:
Traditionally, insurance companies have offered Towing and Labor coverage, which reimburses you for roadside service you have already obtained. If you have this coverage, your will have to find service, pay for it and then submit your receipt for reimbursement. Coverage is usually limited to a certain dollar amount - $50, $75, $100, $150 and $200 are common limit options.
Sign & Drive Roadside Assistance
More recently a number of insurance companies have began offering true Roadside Assistance. If you need a tow or other service, you would call your insurance company for assistance. They then dispatch a service provider to your location. Coverage is most often limited to towing a certain distance, which may vary from 15 to 100 miles. You won't need to pay anything at the scene, unless your service exceeds the limits included with the coverage.
Regardless of which option is offered by your carrier, it should cover the following basic services:
• Jump starting a dead battery
• Opening your door if you are locked out
• Changing a flat tire
• Fuel delivery if you run out of gas (you will still have to pay for the cost of the gasoline.)
Our agency represents a number of different companies, some of which offer Sign & Drive assistance and others which cover towing on a reimbursement basis. Ask us for more information on the options available to you.
Whether you are on the road, on the water or riding down a trail, one of the risks that you face 'behind the wheel" is being injured in an accident caused by a irresponsible driver, boater or rider. Let's face it - someone who operates their vehicle irresponsibly is unfortunately also less likely to be adequately insured.
If you seriously hurt in an accident, this could have serious financial affects going forward. While I hope that you have good health insurance to cover your resulting medical bills, that won't cover your lost income if you can't work or the special care or assistance you could need if permanently disabled.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage protects you financially if you are injured in an accident caused by someone without any insurance (Uninsured Motorist coverage) or someone with low limits insufficient to fully compensate you for the financial effects of your injury (Underinsured Motorist coverage). Another risk that you face is an accident caused by a hit and run driver; if that driver can't ever be identified, they are "uninsured" for all practical purposes, as you aren't going to be able to collect under their Liability coverage.
Whether you carry this coverage (and how high of limits you carry) could have a serious impact on both your financial future and your quality of life after a serious accident for which someone else is at fault. This coverage is often overlooked but is quite important.
Here's some information on how this coverage works for different types of insurance policies:
On your Auto policy
Minnesota Auto policies are required to include both Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist coverage, at no less than limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. However, most policies are written with higher Uninsured/Underinsured limits equal to your Bodily Injury Liability coverage, which is usually a very small percentage of your overall policy premium.
On your watercraft policy
Unlike Auto policies, watercraft policies don't always include this valuable coverage, even though there are many, many boats out on the water without any insurance at all. Protecting yourself against uninsured boaters is quite inexpensive - maybe $10 or $20 dollars a year on average. Therefore, we usually include it as a standard coverage included on watercraft policies we quote. However, we see many boat policies purchased elsewhere that don't include this valuable protection.
On your motorcycle, ATV or snowmobile policy
Powersports policies also aren't required to carry this protection. Unlike Auto and Watercraft policies, there is a much higher risk of being injured on a bike, sled or four wheeler; so Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist becomes a more expensive option. But for the same reasons, it is protection you should seriously consider paying for. Because of the added expense, we offer this as optional and encourage our clients to seriously consider adding this protection to their powersports policy.
On your Personal Umbrella policy
Personal Umbrella policies provide an additional layer of Liability coverage if you are sued for more than the limits on your Auto, residential, boat or powersports policy. Many Umbrella policies also offer the option to add Excess Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist, which broadens your additional layer of protection, so that it covers not only your risk of being sued if the car accident is your fault to also your risk of financial loss as the victim.
Regardless what we include on our initial quote, we give our clients the final choice on what optional coverages are included in their policies.
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.