February is normally the coldest month of the year, though January was pretty cold here in Indiana! 

When it gets cool, I like to start having fires in my fireplace at the house.  The warm glow, the smell, the crackling sounds, these are all a delightful way to ward off the chill that starts to come with the end of the year.  There are lots of different ways to have fires though.  You can have a wood burning fireplace, you can have a gas insert, or you can even have a wood burning stove that heats your home.  If you want to be hip with the warmth of a fire and the glow, but without the actual fire, you can even go with an electric fireplace.

When it comes to insurance, each of these is viewed differently and each has it's own challenges.

If you have a fireplace, your insurance company MAY require that you clean it every year.  Most insurance companies will want proof that your chimney has been cleaned before you start a new policy, at the very least.  For your own part, it is important to have a chimney cleaning so that you don't have buildup and a person is inspecting your chimney yearly to make sure it is in good shape. Fireplaces CAN provide heat but are rarely the only source of heat in a house.

A wood-burning stove is not the end of an insurance policy that people are afraid of.  Wood-burning stoves do need to have proper and professional installation.  They need to be clear of debris, and they need to have yearly check ups.  But, much like a chimney cleaning, it is important for your own safety to be in compliance with those safeguards with a wood-burning stove.  Often times, the questions an insurance agent will ask are making sure that the stove has been installed and maintained and records will be requested.  A wood-burning stove is often the only or a portion of the heating of the home.

Gas inserts are fireplaces that do not have a chimney though they often have a vent or duct to vent fumes from burning gas.  They require very little upkeep and your insurance agent will likely ask many questions about a fireplace insert.

Finally, an electric fireplace has become a popular way to have a fire without having a fire.  Essentially, an electric fireplace is a space heater with inside a fireplace insert.  So, they follow the same "rules" as a space heater.  Just be smart with them, don't leave them on when you're not in the house or put flammable things near them.

As we get into the last six weeks of Winter and then the beginning of Spring, stay warm, stay safe, and stay insured!

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