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Insurance Cancelled due to Space Heater


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Hey folks!

I'm mentioning this because it happened to my neighbor. Se *had* an electric space heater (one that glowed red hot) and I told her to stop using it and got her an electric oil-filled heater. The reason for that was because I know the electric space heaters cause fires - that's why I put her into an oil filled one. 

Her annual insurance is due shortly. This is insurance for 24x7 living in your unit with something like $2 million in liability in case your burn your neighbors down or such. Everyone here in this park has to have it to stay in the long-term areas, so I have it too.

Anyway, she gets a letter saying that her insurance company is dropping her after 4 years because....she has a space heater. So we're wondering HOW the insurance company found out, to start with, and her adjuster said someone finked on her! Likely someone that was there doing some work on her unit. So go figure. 

But here's the thing. As near as we can tell, the only work that was done on it was years after I put her into the oil-filled heater. So whoever finked on her must have seen that one and reported her (of all things) to the insurance company. 

I find the whole thing pretty disgusting. The way she was treated was reprehensible. Anyway, she's now looking to start up with another insurance company.

My question is, have you guys run into situations with respect to insurance and using an oil-filled heater? Or perhaps seen similar things?

I have always understood, and heard many tales of, electric space heaters (such as ceramic etc) burning units down. It happened to my uncle. But I was always under the impression that oil-filled heaters are safe because they don't burn anything or anyone. Both of ours shut off is turned over and I can't see them burning anything down because the element is not exposed. 

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It does sound bad.  How would someone working on her coach even know who her insurance company is.  

Just remove the space heater and tell the insurance company it's gone.  Have them send an inspector if they don't trust her.  

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This is the thing. I told her it had to be someone working for, or on behalf of, that insurance company. To me, that means she must have made a claim, an independent servicemen came out, and in the process of doing the claim finked on her. They would *not* tell her who it was. 

To me, it sounds ridiculous. The only way I can see that happening would be if she dicked around the person doing the work. Or, if the person doing the work got some kind of kick-back for finking on her. Either way, it would have had to be during a claim with that specific insurance company. Thing is, she says the only claim she had with that company was a toilet issue where it was replaced, several *years* ago. 

But they dropped her. Ie, they will *NOT* insure her. Up here there's only 4 insurance companies to deal with, that I know of, so, one down...

But I'm really curious since I put her into the oil-filled heater because of the potential fire issue. 

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Makes sense that an open element could cause a fire but additionally it could cause heating in wiring from lose connections etc. I’m removing the space heater we have because clearly they are a problem. Even in residential buildings, space heaters cause fires because they get abused, the length of the cable is altered, or just they just get old. Thanks for bringing that up! 

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This is an interesting topic and the first time I've heard that space heaters would specifically be banned in an insurance policy.  So I looked at mine and there was no such restriction that I could fined but I don't have full time insurance.  So those policies could be different.  From an insurance underwriter point of view there may be no difference between electric or an oil filed space heater.  A space heater is a space heater.  Insurance companies like heating equipment that is basically permanently installed.  Unfortunately, my wife had a relative many years ago killed by filling an oil fired space heater with gasoline and the house burned down.  One of the requirements of almost all space heaters is that they never be operated unattended.  So I can see the logic in insurance companies not insuring RV's with space heaters although this is the first time I've heard of this happening.  It will be interesting to look at the fine print to see if it is common practice not to insure RV's with space heaters.

In looking at my homeowners policy, it does ask if I have central heating and I do with a natural gas fired boiler feeding two air handlers and radiant floor heat for the bedroom and bath above the garage.  I suppose if I didn't have central heat, they might not insure the home thinking that I was heating the home with space heaters.

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Posted (edited)

The whole thing is pretty odd. I'm still trying to understand how they knew she had one. What you say makes sense about them considering any space heater a space heater and not distinguishing between an oil-filled heater. My uncle burned his unit down with one of those Chinese ceramic heaters, so I can see that. That is why I got her into an oil filled heater. It's sealed with no exposed element and shuts off if it falls over. My policy says nothing about them. 

26 minutes ago, Rick A said:

Makes sense that an open element could cause a fire but additionally it could cause heating in wiring from lose connections etc. I’m removing the space heater we have because clearly they are a problem. Even in residential buildings, space heaters cause fires because they get abused, the length of the cable is altered, or just they just get old. Thanks for bringing that up! 

Yes, my uncle lost a unit from a fire caused by a Chinese ceramic heater. This is why in the RV world it's generally known to use an oil-filled heater due to fire hazards. For the sake of others not familiar with this, here is a picture of my oil-filled heater.

gallery1.jpg

Edited by Bob Jones
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Interesting, I can only imagine what would happen if I called my insurance company and told them that I wanted to rat out my neighbor down the street. I'm pretty sure that I would be immediately transferred to that always helpful service rep in Bangkok Thailand who doesn't speak a word of English.

Have had the pleasure of speaking to him a couple of times in the past.

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In theory the oil filled space heater units are good.  The problem is with the connection to the 120 VAC outlets.  There are issues with the RV style 120 VAC plug connections.  High current draw cause voltage drops due to poor wiring connections at the back of these RV style AC outlets.  RV 120 VAC outlets are not like residential outlets.  Associated heat at the outlet wiring connection then leads to heat and a fire.   In my opinion, 120V RV outlets were not designed to have space heaters plugged into them for long term use in heating an RV.

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Posted (edited)

Good point. I've seen those outlets, they have push installed wires (vampire taps) so that they can assemble them fast at the factory. I've replaced pretty much all of mine with regular house outlets. No more GFI's either. The wiring itself appears to be standard issue romex.

21 minutes ago, Gary Cole said:

Interesting, I can only imagine what would happen if I called my insurance company and told them that I wanted to rat out my neighbor down the street. I'm pretty sure that I would be immediately transferred to that always helpful service rep in Bangkok Thailand who doesn't speak a word of English.

Have had the pleasure of speaking to him a couple of times in the past.

The whole situation is bizarre. According to her, only one claim for a toilet (approx $500). 5 years of paying $1,600 per year. So that's $8,000 in income with +/- $500 in claims. 2015 unit. So the profit on her insurance to date is roughly $7,500. And you should see the letter they sent her. No thanks, just we're cutting you off. Explanation given? Due to underwriting reason(s)

It was her broker that told her the issue was an electric space heater and that someone had reported it and they would not say who. It has to be someone that worked on it, that's the only thing I can think of. 

But here's the kicker, her broker told her to take that letter with her and to show it to anyone that she is looking to get insurance from!!! In other words, show that denied letter to prospective new insurers....

She is +/- 72 years old. I asked her if she pissed of the insurance company - she says no..

Edited by Bob Jones
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41 minutes ago, Dr4Film said:

What is the name of the insurance company cancelling her insurance policy?

Agree, this company should be punished for this behavior.
A reasonable response would have been to notify her of the policy, and have an inspector visit her if necessary.

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7 hours ago, Bob Jones said:

She is +/- 72 years old. I asked her if she pissed of the insurance company - she says no..

Yep, she obviously did by filing a claim, they don't like claims. 😬   Since it's been 5 yrs they probably figured she's due a big one soon.  🤑

How the insurance co found out is a mystery.                                                                                                                                                                                 My guess is that she inadvertently gave them the info without realizing it, or a neighbor may have had a conversation with their agent, adjustor or inspector, and mentioned her heater                      🙈🙉🙊     

We have a law here in Tx if you have been with a co for 25 yrs they can not cancel, thank goodness

BTW 72 yrs old is not old, a least not to me, that's pretty young.  😇 ROFLMAO                                                                                                                                              

Edited by Ray Davis
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Ok no big deal, find another insurance company and don't mention anything about any heater. Read the policy and see if space heaters are an issue. What really caught my attention in the original post was the word "finked". I have not heard that since elementary school which was about 55 years ago. Thank you for the flashbacks and a quick trip down memory lane.

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Just curious.  Many of the new buses come with electric heaters under a high dollar television.  Maybe electric heaters are really ok.  Just saying.  I'm certainly not an expert on the subject but why put something in a new bus if its dangerous.  

Jim 09 Monaco Knight 41 DFT

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3 hours ago, dl_racing427 said:

Agree, this company should be punished for this behavior.
A reasonable response would have been to notify her of the policy, and have an inspector visit her if necessary.

The company is Aviva !

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3 hours ago, Ray Davis said:

Yep, she obviously did by filing a claim, they don't like claims. 😬   Since it's been 5 yrs they probably figured she's due a big one soon.  🤑

How the insurance co found out is a mystery.                                                                                                                                                                                 My guess is that she inadvertently gave them the info without realizing it, or a neighbor may have had a conversation with their agent, adjustor or inspector, and mentioned her heater                      🙈🙉🙊     

We have a law here in Tx if you have been with a co for 25 yrs they can not cancel, thank goodness

BTW 72 yrs old is not old, a least not to me, that's pretty young.  😇 ROFLMAO                                                                                                                                              

I'll introduce you to her 🙂 Actually, I think she's closer to 70. All I know is that she slaps me if I mention a higher number by mistake... 🙂

All I know about someone finking on her is that the insurance broker would *not* say who it was. They were, literally, protecting the identity of the person that did it. I can't see it being a neighbor at all. They would have to know who she dealt with for insurance, and that she had a heater, and that it was illegal under her specific policy. As far as I can see, it must have been someone there doing work or an inspection or something along those lines. You might be right also in that she may well have mentioned it. It's hard to say. She has two policies, she bought her son a trailer and covers that one as well with another policy so she gets the two confused at times. 

I'm just trying to help her sort it out and bring it back to basics so she can get on and not have the anxiety. 

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If I plug in my space heater to the slide outlet after a long while there's a faint plastic melting smell . . . and that's only on half heat (750W)!  I don't use that outlet.  An oil heater wouldn't make any difference.

One of these days I'll replace that outlet (I've seen photos of the stakes in plastic outlets).  For now I use a different 'no smell' outlet (probably same design).

Where I worked extension cords and space heaters were banned.  Of course we cheated but at least we made sure the extension cords were heavy duty.  In many cases we made cords using metal outlet boxes. 

- bob

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3 hours ago, Bob Jones said:

The company is Aviva !

Is she a resident of Canada? Never heard of this insurance company in the USA. The corporate site comes up as a British company.

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I don’t understand how someone could “rat out” someone for having a space heater to their insurance company. How would they know what insurance company they had and the insurance company would take a strangers/random call and cancel a customer policy. I don’t think so. 

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Someone here is an experienced insurance agent and could provide an answer. I forget who he is. However I'm guessing that if one's policy prohibited the use of a space heater, or maybe a particular breed of dog for example, and in the course of a claim an adjuster noticed a violation, whether accessory to the claim or not, then that would be cause to deny the claim. Worth considering when big money is at risk. 

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As far as I'm able to tell, she had people working on her unit and one of them may have been working on a claim with Aviva (her insurer). We're thinking that person finked on her when he filed the paperwork for her claim. But it's hard to say. For all I know, she could have told them she has a space heater and caused the issue herself. But I saw the termination letter and it was pretty rude. When she called the broker, that broker told her someone finked on her. That broker than told her to shop for a new underwriter and....when she finds one, to show them the termination letter.....

Advice like that makes me think they are intentionally screwing her over. 

5 hours ago, Dr4Film said:

Is she a resident of Canada? Never heard of this insurance company in the USA. The corporate site comes up as a British company.

Yup, what you are seeing is the underwriter. On my policy the underwriter was some massive company in Sweden or someplace like that. 

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