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For those of us that have home studios I’m curious as to how difficult it was for you to find an insurance company that would insure your home when they are told there is a kiln on the premises.  My kilns (electric) are in a fully enclosed 12’ X 12’area on our back deck. I was shopping around the last time the insurance came due and couldn’t find any companies, other than my current one, that would sell us a policy due to the kilns.  

 

So, in talking to some local potters they say they don’t declare the kiln. Am I the odd one out here in declaring it? Do most people just take the chance that they will never have to deal with the insurance company’s denial of a claim if it came to it?

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It is absolutely crazy NOT to tell your insurance agent about it ... if you have a fire anywhere in the house and have neglected to tell them about the kiln you could find yourself having to fight for compensation. Imagine losing your home and having to fight for money.

 

Go to the CERF website and start reading about how to protect yourself as a potter.

 

Not telling your insurance company is a needless risk.

Tre and RonSa like this

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I get my insurance from State Farm. They said "no problem" to the kiln. An agent came to my house to take pictures of its location and setup, and that was it.

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It is absolutely crazy NOT to tell your insurance agent about it ... if you have a fire anywhere in the house and have neglected to tell them about the kiln you could find yourself having to fight for compensation. Imagine losing your home and having to fight for money.

 

Go to the CERF website and start reading about how to protect yourself as a potter.

 

Not telling your insurance company is a needless risk.

 

Yuppers, I agree it's crazy. I have always declared it and have a rider on the policy that states we operate a small business with electric kilns, with a detailed description of location, installation etc

 

But, considering how difficult it was to find a company in the first place that would insure us was a challenge, and knowing a few potters who don't disclose it got me wondering how prevalent this practice is.

 

BTW, I'm in BC and BCAA will cover if anyones interested.

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Insurance in the U.S. is highly regulated and practices vary by state, with a special Insurance Commissioner heading a regulatory agency in each state.  I have no idea what happens in Canada. 

 

From what I know here (family has insurance business), some companies will probably deny any claim if you have a kiln on the premises.   UNLESS the kiln is listed on the policy.   You are probably being rejected because the kiln is putting you in a higher risk category.    And most price competitive quotes will not come from a high risk company.

 

My advise would be to stay with the company you have.   I can only speak for Mississippi and the insurance companies I am familiar with but here a company will not cancel your policy unless they have a valid reason (there are some laws that reinforce this, not sure about exact details).    You will get a better rate if you bundle all of your insurance with one company.   Assess  your insurance carrier by evaluating their "good faith" and "bad faith" records.

 

One thing I can say for certain is that many insurance companies will deny a fire claim if they find a kiln in the home.  Even if there is no evident connection between the fire and the kiln.   Do not have false assurance that all insurance companies will gladly pay a fire claim.  Non disclosure would give them a clear avenue for denying a claim, if they are predisposed to denying it.

RonSa likes this

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Something I was recently made aware of (by a friend who works in metal) is that the cheapest way to get insurance rates for those who work with fire/hot things was to insure yourself as an artist with processes and then list those processes.  This may not be as applicable to ceramicists, but it has a genuine savings for those who work with metal.

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It would be wise to read your policy to see if there is anything in there about kilns or home businesses. My experience is that insurance companies work hard at finding reasons to deny claims. Those long, confusing policies, ie contracts, are provided for the insurer's benefit.

 

I figure I have insurance so I can sleep better knowing I am covered if there is a fire, etc. Not following the contract would mean paying the premium but still worrying I would not be covered. That's a heck of a risk.

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Electric kilns are easier usually than gas kilns for the whole insurance process.

Many times its more about the right permits-if you have them than insurance is easier.

My commercial liability covers my potshop  for fire and its low ball 12-15K tops

The building is a stand alone.

An electric kiln is so much more benign in a home hobby studio than a potshop with 2-4 gas kilns with electrics as well.

Mark

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I have State Farm as well. I called and asked BEFORE I got a kiln. Was told as long as wired in by a professional electrician and I don't teach or have clients in the home it's fine. I had it professionally wired, even went the extra for a cut off box between the kiln and the breaker box. I keep it set to off except when firing. I never leave the premises when firing. I even offered to have them come out once it was wired to check it out, takes pictures, whatever they needed. I was told it wasn't necessary.

 

Do I still worry that they will deny a claim? Yes! I lived in Florida and insurance companies came up with endless reasons for not covering stuff when filing a claim and would then jack your rates up or cancel you outright because of a clause written in there about filing a claim allowing them to do so. But worrying they MIGHT not cover a claim is better than KNOWING they won't because I didn't give full disclosure of a kiln on the premises.

 

Terry

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Insurance is one thing getting paid for a claim is a whole nother thing-often when you think they should pay they do not.

I wonder if this knowledge comes with age?

My deseased father sold insurance long ago so I may have some insights.

Mark

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Guest JBaymore

So many ceramists do not know about this stuff and have this kind of problem waiting in the wings that they don;t know about. All will be fine.... until it isn't. I cover this in the kiln course at the college for my students.

 

State Farm seems to be the "go to" folks in the US for people with home businesses.

 

You can also split insurance coverages in some cases...... homeowners for most stuff... and business specific policy to cover the studio stuff.

 

Look at the CERF+ and the Potters Council business insurance packages for artists / potters.

 

best,

 

..................john

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So many ceramists do not know about this stuff and have this kind of problem waiting in the wings that they don;t know about. All will be fine.... until it isn't. I cover this in the kiln course at the college for my students.

 

 

 

This not knowing attitude was what I was referring to in my initial post. I think there are a lot of "hobby" potters out there who don't realize that even though they are not running a business their policy will be invalid due to owning a kiln.

 

We don't have State Farm Insurance in Canada, I wonder if it is harder finding coverage here than in the US? The small business coverage is easy to find, having a rider due to the kilns was the hard part to find. Guess I'm just sticking with my current provider and will just have to take the yearly premium increases. 

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Guest JBaymore

The western world is getting harder and harder on those of us who "do not fit the socially acceptable norms".  Artists are generally considered sort of "weird".  People often like to see what we do.... we are "entertaining".

 

However, money is the driving goal for most everything when it comes to large businesses.  If you do not plug into their "stock formula"....... which is based on those social norms...... it is far easier to just say "no" than spend money on research or take on potential risk.  It is not worth studying how MUCH potential risk is actually involved with something like a ceramist's studio...... because those weird artists are few and far between.  No market segment economic return there to spend money on chasing.  And the artists don't typically HAVE money to get anyway....they always want things cheap.

 

Yeah, there is the myth on the street that if you are not a busines that ALL insurance companies will be fine with an electric kiln installation as a hobby potter.  Some will.... some won't. 

 

Potters think of heat and flames and fire and glowing kilns and bricks as friends.  Most of the rest of "normal" people think of them as dangerous and an enemy and a risk to be eliminated .

 

Insurance companies like taking premiums.... but hate paying claims.  They have people on staff whose whole jobs are to pay as little as possible; "adjusters".  They "adjust" claims. 

 

Years and YEARS ago I had my one and only claim EVER on my insurance for the studio here. (In the 36 years I've been here.)  Was with another company than our current one.  Long story short....... the "adjuster" (read that as the screw-job guy) took what was about a $35,000 actual loss...... (snow-load collapse of a section of studio roof after a blizzard followed immediately by heavy rain) and worked some lovely mathematics of depreciation factors and other fine print BS .... and we ended up with enogh money to remove and dispose of a section of the studio...... not rebuild it.  Way less than half the claim (that they "accepted").  I might have been able to huire a lawyer to fight them....... but the lawyer would have removed anything that we would have possibly gained... and might have cost me more if we lost.

 

best,

 

................john

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Some people are not aware of  The Valued Policy Law.   In the event of a total loss insurance companies are required to pay the full amount.   Unfortunately, only 20 states have this law.

 

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/v/valued-policy-law-vpl.asp

 

If you are in one of these states and have a claim for a total loss, mention of this law should get prompt payment for the face amount of the issued policy.  Insurance companies will still try to horse around and offer less.  I recently told someone about this law because their insurance company was delaying payment and this cleared up the issue.

 

I would goggle and read about bad and good faith rankings of insurance companies.    I would require State Farm to list that kiln on my policy.   Or at least give me a letter stating that you informed them.  If the event of a fire, most companies will point to a kiln if there is one in or near the house.  The fire might start on the opposite of the house and they will still point to the kiln. 

 

Some insurance carriers have proven reputations for denying claims.   I have ZERO faith in many insurance companies and am 99% positive they will back track on paying claims. 

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I had to have my kiln and space inspected by State Farm, but yes, they insured my kiln. I had to show proof of the electrical inspection.   However, I had to have it set up as a business policy.   I do know that I am the ONLY person in my area who has "claimed" a kiln.  Everyone else just has their kiln in their garage or outbuilding wired up by a neighbor.  Nothing against the neighbor, but I think the insurance company will not like it very well, if there is a fire. 

 

Roberta

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Dirt roads that link is no good

Mark

 

Just goggle The Valued Policy Law

it comes right up

 

Fixed it.  Thank you.  This topic disturbs me.  I just know that if any one here ever has a claim,  most likely, the insurance carrier will try to deny it or try to pay less.  I personally know people that have been saved by the VPL in Mississippi.

 

Another question:  Can anyone site a specific incident where a kiln has started a house/structure fire?

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Guest JBaymore

Another question:  Can anyone site a specific incident where a kiln has started a house/structure fire?

 

One of the most "famous"... Karen Karnes studio.... burned to the ground.

 

Bernard Leach.... burned his studio down in Japan.

 

I watched the beams around a wood kiln chimney at a university in PA catch fire in the middle of a firing.  Stranding there seeing it happen (I predicted it from the way it was installed).

 

My friend in Japan caught the kiln building roof on fire in the middle of a firing (wood kiln) just a few months ago.  Hoses solved ithe issue to get the firing done.

 

Years ago I did a survery for a presentation I was doing and I asked for "kiln disaster" stories.  Electric kiln "almost fires"  or "fire that was caught in time" outnumbered gas or wood kiln stories.  (There are more of them installed.... so to be expected).  The issue for the electrics was almost always improper installation and heat generated at the local junction box where the kiln was located.  Most of THAT was with kilns that had plugs... not hard-wired.  (Plug connection oxidize over time.  As the connections oxidize..... they generate resistance to electrical flow.  resistance to flow equals heat  - Ohms law).

 

It happens.

 

best,

 

................john

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Ah, so that is why a direct connection is preferred, compared to a plug!

 

My school kiln is hard wired as such, with a large shut off switch on the box. Is this preferable?

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In the early 70's I had a stand alone wood roof beam catch fire during a glaze fire on a large gas hard brick kiln. We put it out and insulated it and finished the fire.

Mark

A local clay paint and fire business (long gone now) placed the electric kiln right next to a plywood wall in basement-the wood went up in smoke fire Dept. closed down the kiln in basement idea for good . (owner operator issue)

I have seen a plug in kiln plug get toasted / fried/melted but did not catch fire.

My kilns are hardwired.

Mark

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My Olympic 1827 came with a plug. I paid to have an appropriate breaker installed and it is only used for the kiln I also have the wire run on the outside of the wall in metal conduit brom the breaker box to a special shut off box and switch then down to the the plug still running in conduit. The kiln is plugged in to this special plug. My question is how long before oxidation builds up, is there a way to look at it and see the oxidation and know I need to replace, I have not removed the plug from the outlet since first plugging it in since was told that can damage the plug.

 

Also reading here it's got me thinking I need to go pull my insurance policy and see if they listed it on there. I called and spoke with my agent a few times before and after getting the kiln to make sure I did what I needed to on my end to get coverage. Was told what I needed to do, which I did and then told verbally once everything was installed I was good to go and had coverage. I just assumed that they would put it in the policy but am now wondering.

 

Terry

PS. Fires scare me and I am extremely careful throughout my whole house having special hard wired detectors in each room that is one sptriggers they all go off on all 3 floors. I also have several fire extinguishers on each floor and bought one to sit near the kiln as well. I won't even burn candles or use a space heater. This topic has me wondering what else I can do to safety proof the kiln. It sits on a stand on a concrete floor in my garage. It's 2 feet away from the wall... Do I need to think about installing a sheet of fire proof board on the wall? What else am I not considering? OH and I installed a video camera with a motion sensor facing the kiln so I can monitor it throughout the firing cycle.

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I went and measured and the stand is the metal one that came with the kiln and is 8 inches high. The kiln is actually 2 1/2 feet from the wall, the furthest out I could get it from the plug without having any stress on the plug and cord which still has some slack in it.

 

Terry

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My Olympic 1827 came with a plug. I paid to have an appropriate breaker installed and it is only used for the kiln I also have the wire run on the outside of the wall in metal conduit brom the breaker box to a special shut off box and switch then down to the the plug still running in conduit. The kiln is plugged in to this special plug. My question is how long before oxidation builds up, is there a way to look at it and see the oxidation and know I need to replace, I have not removed the plug from the outlet since first plugging it in since was told that can damage the plug.

 

Also reading here it's got me thinking I need to go pull my insurance policy and see if they listed it on there. I called and spoke with my agent a few times before and after getting the kiln to make sure I did what I needed to on my end to get coverage. Was told what I needed to do, which I did and then told verbally once everything was installed I was good to go and had coverage. I just assumed that they would put it in the policy but am now wondering.

 

Terry

PS. Fires scare me and I am extremely careful throughout my whole house having special hard wired detectors in each room that is one sptriggers they all go off on all 3 floors. I also have several fire extinguishers on each floor and bought one to sit near the kiln as well. I won't even burn candles or use a space heater. This topic has me wondering what else I can do to safety proof the kiln. It sits on a stand on a concrete floor in my garage. It's 2 feet away from the wall... Do I need to think about installing a sheet of fire proof board on the wall? What else am I not considering? OH and I installed a video camera with a motion sensor facing the kiln so I can monitor it throughout the firing cycle.

 

It sounds like your kiln is set up right. But do unplug the kiln once or twice a year and inspect the plug for corrosion. Also inspect all the connections inside the kiln control panel, and your breaker panel on the wall. This is especially true if you live in a humid area. Humidity will greatly increase the speed at which connections corrode.

 

Electric kilns, when wired properly and set up with safe clearances, do not start fires. It is virtually impossible for a kiln to melt down and have all that heat pour out across the floor. The electrical system should fry out long before the bricks melted out. What you can get are electrical fires, like John mentioned, where the wiring is inadequate for the kiln, or there's corrosion in the wiring. You can also get fires if the kiln is too close to something combustible. I recommend a minimum of 16" clearance to my customers. With regular maintenance and checkups you shouldn't have any problems. But if you see corrosion on any of the wiring in your breaker boxes, or at the plug, then you should strongly think about replacing that wiring. I see plugs that corrode and fry out occasionally, but I also see hard wired systems corrode and fry out. I've seen many melted breakers. More often I see wires fry at the power cord terminal connection inside the kiln, rather than at the plug or the breaker, because that area has to deal with a lot more heat than the plug or breaker do. Again, regular inspections are necessary, and will save you money in the long run, because when thing fry they usually damage other things, too, which means more labor and more parts to get it up and running again.

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