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Aviva issues warning as battery chargers lead to fires

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Aviva is warning customers to take care when charging electrical items, after receiving dozens of home fire claims caused by chargers and batteries in 2021.

According to the insurer, multiple home fire claims this year have been linked to faulty, damaged or incorrect chargers, or items which were left to charge for too long. Aviva found a common cause of components over-heating, leading to fires in the home.

"We would strongly urge people not to leave their electrical devices unattended while being charged or leave items charging when batteries are full."

The insurer notes that in many cases, damage was exacerbated because customers had put items to charge and then left their homes, enabling fires to take hold.

Sarah Applegate, Head of Data Science for Aviva says: “This appears to be a growing problem as the number of battery-powered items increases. We would strongly urge people not to leave their electrical devices unattended while being charged or leave items charging when batteries are full.

“In the last 12 months alone, we’ve seen incidents relating to e-scooter and e-bike batteries, e-cigarettes and even an electric golf caddy, each causing six-figure sums of damage and considerable inconvenience and distress for the families involved. As we see more cordless devices around the home and garden, it’s becoming even more important for householders to remain aware of fire safety when charging batteries.”

Aviva claims involving batteries in 2021 include:

  • A fire where e-scooter batteries had been left on charge in the garage (value: £150,000).
  • A fire believed to be caused by an exploding e-cigarette battery (value: £140,000).
  • A fire caused by an electric golf caddy left on charge while the customer was away (value: £150,000).
  • A fire caused by overheating of lithium batteries from a model aircraft  (value: £120,000).

Sarah Applegate adds: “The number of claims caused by chargers is actually relatively small in relation to fire claims overall. We tend to see more fire claims as a result of candles and garden fires, for example. However, because people don’t tend to think of chargers as a fire hazard, they often leave them unattended, which means the damage can be worse and more disruptive for customers.”

"Because people don’t tend to think of chargers as a fire hazard, they often leave them unattended, which means the damage can be worse and more disruptive for customers."

Aviva research also finds that chargeable items such as phones, tablets and consoles were amongst common possessions purchased by UK residents during the Covid pandemic. According to the insurer’s latest How We Live report, of those who had purchased luxury items during the pandemic, 34% of UK adults had bought phones or tablets, while 18% had purchased consoles and gaming equipment.

Aviva offers the following tips for using batteries and chargers:

  • Always use genuine chargers which are designed specifically for your devices. Don’t be tempted by cheaper “bargains”. Counterfeit chargers may not meet UK regulations and can cause batteries to overheat.
  • Replace your charger if it becomes faulty or if wires are exposed / fraying.
  • Don’t leave batteries charging when you go out. A fire can take hold very quickly and the damage is likely to be much worse if it is not spotted and attended to immediately. 
  • Stop charging your device as soon as the battery is full. Similarly, don’t leave items charging overnight.
  • Put your device on a non-flammable surface when charging. Avoid highly flammable materials such as clothes, bedding, cushions or paper and don’t cover devices while they are charging.
  • Don’t overload electrical sockets. You can find out more about cables, fuses and leads here.
  • Be careful how you dispose of batteries. Many local authorities offer facilities at recycling centres to ensure that ‘spent’ batteries can be disposed of safely.
  • Store batteries responsibly. Don’t expose them to extreme cold or heat.

-ENDS-

Media Enquiries

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications

Notes to editors:

  • For information on how Aviva is helping our people, customers and communities impacted by COVID-19 visit: www.aviva.com/covid-19-our-response/
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