Insurance company: Stove guards pay for themselves in just five years

Stove fires have been highlighted in statistics regarding insurance claims for a long time. In 2014, the Åland-based insurance company Ömsen started a project that has already managed to completely prevent stove fires in more than 4,000 homes. Ömsen’s decision to install stove guards for their customers free-of-charge paid for itself in just five years.

In 2014, the Åland-based insurance company Ömsen noticed stove fires becoming increasingly commonplace. Stoves caused a few serious fires each year among Ömsen’s customers.

Robert Knahpe, head of risk management at Ömsen, says that stove fires increased in all age groups:

— We had already noticed an increase in the number of stove fires, and could see that their number would only continue to increase in the future. In busy daily life, our attention is divided among several things, such as the phone ringing or something interesting on a screen, while in the meantime the stove continues to heat up unattended.

Careless use of stoves is the most common cause of apartment fires – which means an average cost of EUR 50,000

According to the rescue services, there are approximately one thousand stove fires per year in Finland. This number has remained unchanged for several years. Between 2012 and 2016, fires caused by food preparation caused four to nine fire deaths every year. Careless use of the stove is one of the most significant individual causes of fire deaths.

In addition to personal injuries, stove fires cause great financial damage both to the families who have encountered the accident and to their insurance company. According to the Finnish National Rescue Association, the average property damage of an apartment fire is approximately EUR 50,000.

In the worst case, a fire can destroy the entire home, not to mention human casualties, which will significantly increase the costs further.

Looking for a solution from other Nordic countries, where stove guards are already widely used

Knahpe started his search for a solution from neighbouring Sweden. Stove fires are the most common cause of apartment fires in all Nordic countries, meaning many different solutions have been tried over the years.

Often, the authorities will conduct high-profile campaigns regarding fire safety. Nonetheless, there has been no decrease in the number of stove fires, because they are mostly caused by forgetfulness or carelessness.

As such, the most effective measure taken to combat stove fires in neighbouring countries has been to automatically prevent fires from starting in the first place. The most widely used solution is a stove guard, which cuts off the electricity in case of a dangerous situation.

Stove guards have been used in Sweden for decades, especially in homes for the elderly, but they have since become common in all homes. In Norway, stove guards have been mandatory in all new apartments since 2010. The European standard for stove guards EN 50615 entered into force already in 2015.

Elininate stove fires once and for all: free stove guard for all Ömsen customers

Ömsen’s goal was to eliminate stove fires completely so, based on Knahpe’s research and presentation, Ömsen decided to install stove guards for all of its customers living in detached houses, free of charge. 

It partnered with Finnish company Safera Oy, whose stove guards were already being widely used around the world.

Installations started in 2014 and, by the end of 2020, almost 4,000 Ömsen customers had already received a stove guard in their home.

The result of the project: zero stove fires in apartments with a stove guard installed

In 2020, Ömsen reviewed the results of the project.

Since 2014, there have been no stove fires in apartments with a Safera stove guard installed.

Now about half of Ömsen’s residents have received a stove guard, which is also reflected in the overall statistics: there has been a 40% drop in the number of total stove fires reported to Ömsen.

In addition to direct damage, indirect damage and costs have also decreased

In addition to direct fire damage, Knahpe estimates that stove guards have also prevented personal damage, such as injuries and even deaths.

According to rescue services, between 2012 and 2016 fires caused by food preparation caused four to nine fire deaths every year. Careless use of the stove is one of the most significant individual causes of fire deaths.

Stove fires also cause a lot of indirect damage and costs. Especially larger fires, where the entire building burns to the ground, cause significant carbon dioxide emissions and deteriorate air quality.

Calling the fire brigade to the scene also costs at least EUR 1,000 per time.

Since stove guards will completely prevent fires from starting at all, Knahpe considers one of their benefits to be that all the indirect damage and related cost are not incurred, in addition to direct damage.

A stove guard is the best damage-preventing investment – it will pay for itself in five years

Ömsen has invested particularly heavily in damage prevention, experimenting with various solutions.

Last year, Ömsen evaluated and graded various household damage-prevention products, and the stove guard was found to be the best investment.

According to Ömsen, a stove guard pays for itself in five years. In addition, it improves safety in a practical manner, because it completely prevents stove fires – and therefore does not just limit damage, like traditional fire safety products.

The decision to implement the project on a large scale has also produced an additional benefit: customers pay more attention to home safety, which has further helped in preventing damage.

Rest of Finland to use Åland as a model?

Based on the results of the project, Ömsen continues to equip its customers’ homes with stove guards. The goal is to have no stove fires at all in Åland.

Following Ömsen’s model, could zero stove fires also be a realistic goal in all of Finland?

A step in the right direction has already been taken: In 2017, the SFS 6000 electrical installation standard included a recommendation to install stove guards in all apartments, and the next practical step would be to make stove guards mandatory in new apartments in accordance with the Norwegian model.

Ömsen at least continues to be a pioneer in proactive security and has expanded the project with other smart security solutions. This year, Ömsen will release the new SmartaHem smart home package, which will help customers proactively take care of home safety.

Further information

Ålands Ömsesidiga Försäkringsbolag

Ömsen grundades redan 1866 och är förstås därmed ett av Ålands absolut äldsta företag. Vi är ett skadeförsäkringsbolag som försäkrar bilar, hus, företag, djur och nu även personer.

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