The stove is the most common source of appliance fires, followed by the pot and pan, according to insurer AMI.

Stoves, pots, and pans accounted for 72% of appliance-related house fire claims last year, according to general insurers’ claims data.

 “For three consecutive years, the stove has been responsible for the most appliance fire-related claims, causing around 300 fires every year,” said Wayne Tippet, AMI executive general manager for claims.

AMI data also shows appliance fire claims slightly increase during April every year, dropping in frequency from November onward.

“When the weather gets colder, more people tend to opt for fried foods, or soups, stews and curries, but our data suggests that along with these warm winter staples comes an increased likelihood of a fire breaking out.

“Stoves pose a major fire threat because of their high heat output and the highly flammable cooking oils used in pots and pans, atop them. Hot cooking oil also produces a large heat release, starting fires that are difficult to diffuse if the initial flames are not smothered immediately.

“Something so small can hugely impact people’s lives and actually cause thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.”

The toaster also appeared frequently in AMI's claims data, causing 15 fires for the insurer's customers last year.

“While the small appliance is fitted with a timer, it still pays to keep them away from anything flammable and make sure they’re not covered or used inside the pantry.

“Some homes have roller cupboard doors where kettles and toasters are often stored and, unfortunately, in the past we’ve seen claims where toasters have set cupboard doors on fire,” Tippet added.

Appliance fires caused $10 million in financial damage in 2022, a $2 million decrease from the previous year, which saw the highest increase in financial damage from appliance fires and months of disruption for families while repairs were completed.

“It’s very likely the national COVID-19 lockdown played a part in this spike, where the majority of New Zealanders were at suddenly home using appliances and spending more time than they usually would in the kitchen.

“Another significant consideration is that damage may not be isolated to just the room where it started. Even small fires can cause widespread impacts, such as water damage from putting out the fire, and smoke damage to furniture and curtains in adjacent rooms, so it’s important to consider both home and contents insurance to ensure you are fully covered against fire risk,” says Mr Tippet.

“There are a few golden rules we can take from this data, such as never leaving pots and pans unattended on live elements or hobs and keeping things at least a metre from the heater.

“While prevention is key, everyone should have working smoke alarms in their homes and an evacuation plan.

“Busy cooks could also opt for a meal made in the slow cooker which hasn’t set ablaze for our customers so far.” 

Sept 2023