Lightning Strikes
This is damage from a lightning strike, a sudden occurrence, which most insurance policies cover.

When a chimney fire occurs or lightning strikes your chimney, damage is incurred.  Most folks’ insurance policies cover such occurrences, and a chimney professional must try to help homeowners to make the insurance process go as smoothly as possible. My number one recommendation when it comes to insurance claims, no matter what kind of insurance, is to document everything at the very beginning of the process. You need to be sure to document the date it occurred, the name of the professional(s) who come out to evaluate the situation, and the date(s) the professional evaluated the situation. Your professional should also be doing some documentation as well.

The service technician must document the damage, the date it was discovered, and how they discovered it. Most chimney fires are discovered by chimney sweeps who come out and observe signs that a chimney fire has occurred when running a video inspection of the flue system. This is a dangerous situation which cannot be ignored; you cannot continue to burn wood regularly in your fireplace without repair. You may notice exterior damage on the chimney caused by a lightning strike, in which case the technician should document that he came out to observe possible lightning strike damage at the request of the owner of the home.

Most insurance policies do not cover normal wear and tear of the chimney, for example, deterioration over many years. Similarly,

Vertical Crack
Vertical cracks in flue tiles often indicate a chimney fire has occurred.

they do not cover problems such as a clogged flue or spalling brick, which is almost always the result of poor maintenance of the chimney. Instead, documentation for insurance claims are used to file a “sudden occurrence.” It has been my experience that most insurance companies are willing to work with you so long as you provide the documentation and information that they require.

Fire is only supposed to be contained within the firebox of your chimney. When the fire escapes this area, it often causes vertical cracks in the flue tiles of a chimney, can warp a stainless steel liner, and cause other damage to the chimney and home in general. Documenting your claim on a large, roaring chimney fire is easy, seeing that the fire department must be called. What about slow burning chimney fires, which most home owners are not even aware occurred until a chimney sweep comes out and tells them.

Chimney professionals are almost always willing to come out, meet with an insurance agent or a homeowner, and do whatever work is necessary in cases regarding sudden occurrence insurance claims. My policy is to never get ahead of the insurance agency and follow their lead when it comes to the claim, providing what documentation and service they require. Remember, it is not the chimney professional’s job to defend the home owner’s claim, but review observable facts and provide documentation that a person other than a trained professional could not do. Call out one or more professionals if you suspect a sudden occurrence has taken place; they can almost always make the insurance claim process less of a hassle.

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

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Clay Lamb

8 thoughts on “Insurance Claims Regarding Your Chimney

  1. What if you have shingle damage due to a chimney fire and the fire dept. was called. A ( sudden occurrence ). Should the insurance company cover the cost of shingling the house, or a certain % of it ?

  2. I’m not a Insurance adjustor, but personally I would ASSUME that it would be covered.
    If you haven’t already …. Watch my video as it may help in what direction you may want to proceed with!
    * Sudden Occurrence Insurance Claims
    https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI

  3. Howdy! I cohld have sworn I’ve visited this site before but after browsing through many of the articles
    I realized it’s neew to me. Nonetheless, I’m definitely pleased I
    discovered iit aand I’ll be book-marking it and checking back often!

  4. Well thank you Steven for stopping by to visit with us here at Ask The Chimney Sweep
    Regards
    Clay

  5. Hi,

    We had chimney sweep out last year, whilst cleaning the chimney the hook they were using got caught. When trying to free the hook it cracked the flu, smoke now goes into the bedroom if the fire is started. Do you think this would be covered under the house insurance? Thanks in advance.

    Gareth

  6. I’m not sure as to just what a Chimney Sweep could have been doing with a (hook) to crack a Clay Terra-cotta flue tile. Flue tiles are rather strong and hard to damage, unless there is intense heat or a lot of hard pounding was going on. It is in my opinion that this type of insurance claim coverage would be decided by “BOTH yours as well as the Chimney Sweep’s Insurance carriers, Adjustors”. Keep your eyes open for dates, contact names, phone numbers and Claims Numbers as these are very important in settling insurance issues!
    I’m putting this link to one of my Ask The Chimney Sweep videos. This “does not appear” to relate directly to your issue, but it will give you some of my own insights on dealing with Insurance carriers. For us, most carriers have been good to work with! They will determine who is at fault, set a required date for the sudden occurrence (if it is one), and use a claims number to track the activity of this insurance claim. https://youtu.be/ImkfRabTTPI
    I hope that this helps in resolving you chimney issue
    Regards,
    Clay Lamb

  7. We purchased a very large house this past May, and recently had a chimney sweep out to clean and inspect our 3 fireplaces. He said that the main fireplace (living room) needed repairs and showed me the picture of the cracks on the inside . Last night we lit the fp in the family room and all was well until about an hour later the house began to fill with smoke. This morning my husband closed the damper and found that it looks to be rusted and deteriorated. We can see where the damper has rusted away from the bricks and there is an opening even when closed. (This could explain the sudden rodent problem we are experiencing-separate issue). The damper looks to be one sided. Is it possible to have the damper replaced with a larger one to prevent further smoke problems?

  8. I personally don’t believe the damper is the cause of your smoking problem, unless it is way undersized. What throws me off in this conversation, is that it smoked after the fire was started after not you initially started the fire. I believe its negative air pressure in the home. I would get other opinions from other chimney contractors and try help identify what is causing the intermittent problem. Air balance is really a touchy thing in the home. Its fine one minute, next moment its smoking like crazy. Thermosiphoning is a term where you open one fire and it pulls the smoke from the fireplace and it gets sucked up the other flue. I would make consistent record keeping of any fire that you have, the date, the temperatures, small fire, big fire, any problems, were any other appliances turned on during the fire such as a fan, kitchen appliances, etc. Don’t assume if you put you put gas logs it will solve the problem because it just cause carbon monoxide in the house.

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