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Wednesday, December 21, 2011
By John D. Doak, Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner
As bitter winter weather approaches, some Oklahomans will turn to the warmth of space heaters to keep their homes hospitable. Too often, comfort is achieved in exchange for safety.
The National Fire Protection Association says supplemental heating equipment is the leading cause of home fires during the months of December, January and February. Home heating equipment is second only to cooking equipment as the leading cause of home fires year-round. Travelers Insurance adds that from 2004-2008, 82 percent of home heating fire deaths, 64 percent of injuries and 51 percent of associated direct property damage involved stationary or portable space heaters.
With the increased fire threat due to home heating – and even in some cases, Christmas decorations – now is an ideal time for a review of your homeowners insurance. Contact your agent to be certain your policy is up to date and you have sufficient coverage to make your losses whole in the event of a catastrophic fire.
If you don’t presently carry homeowners or renters insurance, there is no time like the present to inquire about them. These policies are among the most basic and critical types of insurance any household could purchase. What better gift could a family receive than the peace of mind and financial security of knowing their home will be rebuilt if lost to a fire?
Meanwhile, if you must use a space heater this winter, follow these recommendations adapted from advice given by Farm Bureau Insurance.
By following these rules for safe space heater operation and visiting with your local agent about homeowners or renters insurance needs, your household can be warmer, safer and more protected throughout Oklahoma’s cold winter.
For more information about insurance topics or to file a complaint, visit the Oklahoma Insurance Department online at oid.ok.gov or call our Consumer Assistance Division toll-free at (800) 522-0071.