VRP Insurance Wants to Discuss Claims by Candlelight

Claims caused by candlelight?

Who would think that the calming, subtle glow of a candle’s flame may result in problems? Specifically, the use of candles may result in:

  • poorer internal air quality of your home
  • increasing chance of fire losses
  • damages by particulate deposits on interior and exterior walls, carpets, furniture, appliances, window treatments, floors and other surfaces.
  • possible health problems from inhaling harmful chemicals (Surprisingly, the candle-making industry is not required to tell consumers about the ingredients used in their products, including when a wick is used which contains a lead core.)

Is there a Problem?

As a matter of fact, there are numerous problems and the marketing companies for candles have focused more attention on bringing about change.  In the past couple of years lighting candles have become increasingly popular.  They are being used to improve a homes mood and ambiance, as well as for their decorative purposes.  Candles are most recently marketed as scented candles for deodorizing and for a health-related purpose called aromatherapy, which is said to be a great stress reliever.

Without a doubt, candle-makers offer products with a powerful and attractive scent to boost sales. This is done by adding fragrant oils into their wax mixture, which often causes the candle to poorly burn and increases the production of soot.

A Sooty Situation

Soot, a carbon residue produced by burning, can create a large and expensive problem. Soot can be spread throughout a home, creating widespread damage that is difficult to repair.  It can stain walls, carpets, and personal property. Studies show soot damage is also assessable to electronic and plastic components. Unfortunately, improperly burning of candles produce soot, which bonds very strongly, making it almost impossible to clean. Further, soot may contaminate a home’s heating system, including ductwork.  Property stained by soot may have to be cleaned by professionals and, often, the damaged property has to be replaced.

How can a candle cause a fire?

Besides the use of oils and chemicals, and the soot caused by improper burning, candle-makers sometimes create problems because they make other mistakes.  A candle may have a higher likelihood of causing a fire loss due to:

  • an improper candle mixture which results in intense heat or high flames
  • holders not suitable for candle (glass that can shatter or spills flammable liquid)
  • wood holders that catch fire
  • flammable items inside the candle mixture such as potpourri
  • objects around candle that are accessible to the flame

Coverage Under a Homeowner Policy?

Losses involving soot can create thousands of dollars in damage to a home or personal property, creating major issues for both an insurer and a homeowner.  Depending upon the details on a loss and the the particular homeowner policy, the claim may be rejected for a few reasons:

  • the result of the loss might be considered as pollution, which may be excluded.
  • a claim could be affected by the knowledge of the insured. (Even if the policy covers soot-related losses, a claim could be denied if a homeowner knew that the type of candle they used could cause damages.)
  • the damage was gradual instead of sudden.  If so, it wouldn’t be considered accidental.

It could be difficult to prove that the loss was sudden being that the loss is created by matter, unseen to the naked eye. Although there are tests which can be used to determine the cause of stained or discolored property, it can be expensive and the cost may have to handled completely by the homeowner.  You can discuss whether coverage is available under your homeowner policy with an insurance professional.

Some Helpful Advice

It’s all up to you. A fire can be avoided if you follow the three basic safety rules.  First, never leave a burning candle unattended.  Second, never burn a candle near anything that can catch on fire.  Last but not least, keep candles away from children, pets, or any movement that can knock the candle over.  A few other preventions for fire loss would be to talk to someone who knows about candles, whether or not the candle you want to light is safe.  If you do use candles frequently, you may also want to inspect your for any stains or discoloration, including any contamination of your heating system.


If you have any questions about your existing policy, are inquiring information about a possible future policy or need further information, please call us at (631) 738-7300 or get a quick quote at www.vrpinsurance.com

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