Does a faulty tumble dryer invalidate your home insurance?

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If you have a faulty appliance, such as a Hotpoint, Creda or Indesit tumble dryer (brands owned by Whirlpool), will you be able to claim on your insurance if it causes a fire?

Faulty tumble dryers

Whirlpool, which owns the Hotpoint, Creda and Indesit brands, has found that there are millions of potentially faulty tumble dryers in the UK. It’s not recalling them but is offering to repair them. The trouble is that this is taking a long time. You can read more about your rights if you have one of these tumble dryers in my article Faulty tumble dryers – your rights if you can’t get yours repaired

Faulty tumble dryer and home insurance

I’ve been told by several SavvyWoman users that their insurer said it wouldn’t pay out after their tumble dryer caught fire. However, the Association of British Insurers, which represents most of the insurance companies, says that it would expect its members to pay out a claim as long as any faulty tumble dryer was used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Whirlpool says that the tumble dryers can still be used if:

  • The fluff filter is cleaned out after every use
  • You are in the house when the tumble dryer is being used
  • You are not asleep.

What the major insurance companies say

I contacted 12 of the biggest home insurance companies and asked them what their approach is. This is what they told me:

Ageas: As an insurer, we advise our customers to follow usage guidelines issued by manufacturers, where appropriate. All our claims are considered on a case by case basis, and our household insurance policy would, in most cases, cover customers if they have to make a claim as a result of a faulty tumble dryer.

Aviva: You can use the tumble dryer in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and this would not invalidate your insurance or mean a claim would not be paid.

Axa: With faulty goods that have been recalled or are awaiting a ‘fix’, we will honour claims resulting from the faulty white goods as long as the customer follows the safety instructions that have been issued by the manufacturer following the discovery of the fault.

Churchill and Direct Line: We will pay a claim for fire caused by a domestic appliance or anything else that a policy holder has purchased in good faith. Our advice to our customers would be to follow any safety advice given by the manufacturers. We would advise customers not to leave appliances on if they go out or go to bed as their safety is paramount. However, there is no requirement in our policies to say that the customer must be in the home when the appliance is in operation.

Esure: We would cover you if one of your appliances caught fire regardless of anything else. It doesn’t matter if you are in or out, asleep or awake.

Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland: If a customer had been made aware of a potential fault, but they have followed the manufacturer’s advice while using the machine, any resulting damage to property would be covered under our home insurance. We would expect customers to remain at home and stay awake while potentially faulty machines are in use.

LV and More Than: Customers should always follow the manufacturer’s guidance but, if the product is faulty and the customer wasn’t aware of the recall or guidance, they would not be penalised when making a claim. If the manufacturer’s guidance is that the product should not be left unattended, we would classify ‘attended’ as being at home. Although for their own safety, we wouldn’t recommend that consumers use electrical goods when they are asleep.

M&S Bank: Our policyholders would be covered for using a Whirlpool tumble dryer. We would need them to follow any manufacturer’s instructions so that they don’t invalidate their policy.

Saga: Using a Whirlpool dryer would not invalidate your Saga Insurance. Our view is that this an issue for Whirlpool. They have supplied faulty devices and should really be replacing them via a product recall rather than just giving customers a number of guidelines to follow.

We would not expect our customers to have to suffer financial loss as they have not purposely bought a faulty model.

If your claim has been turned down

If you’re insured with one of these companies and your claim has been turned down, I’d quote this article at them! I’ve directly copied the information I’ve been given by their press offices. If that doesn’t work or if you’re with an insurer that I’ve not contacted, complain to them and, if your claim is still rejected, get in touch with the free to use Financial Ombudsman Service.

Suing the manufacturer

If your insurer won’t pay a claim as a result of a fire caused by a faulty tumble dryer, an alternative route is to sue the manufacturer.

Related articles:

Not happy with your financial provider? Complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service; it’s free

Faulty goods; there are new consumer rights from October 1st 2015

What ombudsman schemes are there? Who can you complain to?

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