£21 million worth of insurance claims could be lost due to smoke alarm negligence

Posted on Tuesday, August 22, 2023

74% of Brits don’t realise that failing to test smoke alarms can invalidate home insurance claims.

Brits may be losing £21 million worth of insurance claims every year due to smoke alarm negligence, according to a new report by Go.Compare Home Insurance.

The comparison site reviewed the latest government figures on the number of dwelling fires in Great Britain. Overall, there were 6,423 incidents within the year-ending March 2022 where a smoke alarm either wasn’t present or had a defective or missing battery.

Go.Compare estimates that this is equivalent to £21 million worth of lost insurance claims. The reason is that insurers may not provide a full payout if they discover that the claimant’s smoke alarm wasn’t working during the incident, and could even reject the claim completely. As a result, those who don’t properly install and maintain their alarms may be left to pay for the damages of the blaze themselves, giving them an additional setback during an already challenging situation.

Concerningly, many residents are unaware of the big impact that neglecting their alarms can have on their home insurance. According to Go.Compare’s report, almost three-quarters (74%) don’t realise that a claim could be invalidated if they fail to check their alarm regularly.

In fact, around a third (29%) of respondents admitted that they never test their smoke alarms, putting themselves at an enormous health and safety risk in their own homes. Overall, only 6% said that they check their alarms as frequently as recommended by fire safety bodies (once per week or more).

Ceri McMillan, home insurance expert at Go.Compare, said: “It’s worrying to see that so many of us are taking a chance on our smoke alarms, especially since many of us are unaware of the financial consequences of doing so.

“It can’t be overstated how dangerous it is to neglect your smoke alarms. Not only does it pose a significant risk to your safety, but it also means that your insurance claim could be rejected in the event of a fire. As a result, you could be left with the devastating double whammy of your home being seriously damaged and having to pay for the repairs yourself.”

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