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Smoke detector building insurance

No smoke detector: insurance still valid?

In many federal states, homeowners are obliged to install smoke detectors. And rightly so, because the small devices can quickly become lifesavers in fires. But there is another reason to equip the home with the technical helpers. In the absence of smoke detectors, trouble threatens with the insurance.

In 2013, 415 people were killed by fires. According to the German Insurance Association (GDV), 120,000 reported house fires resulted in property damage totaling 910 million euros . With the help of a building insurance, real estate owners can protect themselves from the financial consequences in the event of a fire. In addition, the safety of the residents can be increased if the home is equipped with smoke detectors.

How can smoke detectors save lives?

Especially sleeping people run the risk of not noticing a fire fast enough. The sense of smell is only very limited active in this state. Smoke detectors, which are also referred to as smoke detectors or home smoke detectors, detect a fire or a smoldering fire with the help of sensors, however, already in the initial stage. They trigger a loud alarm even with slight smoke and warn residents of the danger. Those affected can then quickly get to safety and inform the fire department. In addition, this opportunity to act quickly often has a positive effect on the ultimate extent of the damage.

But even with regard to a building insurance, it is advisable to install the small lifesaver. If smoke detectors are missing, the protection of the insurance can be extinguished in extreme cases.

Does the insurance pay despite missing smoke detectors?

Building insurance offers homeowners comprehensive financial protection in the event of damage . In addition to destruction caused by storm, hail, lightning strike, tap water or frost, the insurer comes to the conclusion of a homeowners insurance even in case of fire for the resulting damage. However, if smoke detectors are not installed in the building, the insurance company may refuse or at least reduce benefits.

The GDV and other individual insurers have already announced that owners of a building insurance, even in the absence of smoke detectors have no loss of benefit. The aim of smoke detectors is to protect lives and not to prevent property damage. Therefore, in the event of a breach of the smoke detector obligation, full insurance cover will continue to be guaranteed.

No smoke detector: Payments can be omitted

How it legally behaves with the obligation, is still unclear. So far, no court decisions have been made in this regard. Experts warn therefore: Despite the confession of the insurance, it is possible in the absence of smoke detectors that in case of damage payments despite completed building insurance account for at least partially.

The reason: Paragraph 8 of the GDV Basic Contract states that real estate owners are required by a building insurance to “comply with all legal, official and contractually agreed safety regulations” . In states with smoke detectors, this also includes the installation, maintenance and operation of smoke detectors. The absence of these can then be classified as gross negligence.

Building insurance: protection at risk of gross negligence

If gross negligence is detected, it is possible that benefits of the insurance will be reduced and thus not the full amount of damages will be paid out. In extreme cases even a termination without notice of the insurance is conceivable. However, these consequences can only occur if the missing smoke detectors can be considered as the cause of the extent of the fire damage.

To be on the safe side, homeowners – especially in federal states with smoke detectors – should equip their property in any case with smoke detectors. This protects the lives of the residents and, moreover, does not risk a cut in insurance coverage.

How exactly unassigned smoke detectors affect the scope of benefits varies from insurer to insurer. Here is worth a close examination of the contract. When concluding a new building insurance , it makes sense to compare the existing offers . This allows homeowners to get an overview of which homeowners insurance is best for them.

Smoke detector all federal states duty

The installation of smoke detectors is compulsory in all federal states. The pioneer was Rhineland-Palatinate. There the smoke detector requirement was already introduced in 2003. To date, all 15 other countries have followed suit, obliging homeowners to install smoke detectors . Last but not least, on 01.01.2017 the obligation to install new buildings and conversions in Berlin was introduced.

Differences in the smoke detector duty

The smoke detector requirement varies from country to country. The installation of smoke detectors in new buildings and conversions is mandatory everywhere. The subsequent installation in existing buildings, in contrast, is still exempt from the obligation to smoke detectors in some cases.

In which building types are smoke detectors mandatory?

federal state New buildings and conversions Retrofit required for existing buildings
Baden-Wurttemberg since 10.07.2013 since 31.12.2014
Bavaria since 01.01.2013 from 31.12.2017
Berlin since 01.01.2017 from 31.12.2020
Brandenburg since 01.07.2016 from 31.12.2020
Bremen since 01.05.2010 since 31.12.2015
Hamburg since 01.04.2006 since 31.12.2010
Hesse since 24.06.2005 since 31.12.2014
Mecklenburg-Vorpommern since 01.02.2006 since 31.12.2009
Lower Saxony since 01.11.2012 since 31.12.2015
North Rhine-Westphalia since 01.04.2013 since 31.12.2016
Rheinland-Pfalz since 23.12.2003 since 12.07.2012
Saarland since 18.02.2004 since 31.12.2016
Saxony since 01.01.2016 since 01.01.2016
Saxony-Anhalt since 17.12.2009 since 31.12.2015
Schleswig-Holstein since 01.04.2005 since 31.12.2010
Thuringia since 29.02.2008 from 31.12.2018

The right smoke detector in the right place

In the federal states with smoke detectors, the warning devices must be installed in all bedrooms , children’s rooms and corridors that serve as escape routes . Also guest rooms are assigned to the bedrooms. In kitchens and bathrooms, on the other hand, it is recommended not to use a home smoke detector. The light barriers of the devices do not differentiate between smoke and steam. Therefore, there is a danger that the smoke alarm will sound after every warm shower or when cooking.

Also, when purchasing smoke detectors, you must pay attention to a few things. Not every smoke alarm device is approved in Germany. Only devices with DIN EN14604 may be installed in households in Germany. Devices with this marking must have the following characteristics:

  • The volume of the alarm must be at least 85 decibels at a distance of three meters, respectively.
  • If the battery is almost empty, a recurring warning signal must be given at least 30 days before.
  • The smoke detector must be equipped with a test button to check at any time whether the device is working.
  • The smoke chamber must have openings to all sides. The opening slots must not be greater than 1.3 mm at the same time and must be protected against dirt and insects.

Another characteristic of an approved smoke detector is the so-called CE mark. This confirms that the product has been manufactured in accordance with EC directives and may therefore be sold in the EU.

If you use a smoke detector without the markings just mentioned, this is not permitted. Only smoke detectors with DIN EN14604 and the CE mark guarantee the legally required functionality.

Install smoke detectors correctly

The installation of smoke detectors usually has to be carried out or commissioned by the homeowner or landlord. Only in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern is the tenant obligated to take the installation into his own hands.

The small lifesavers must be mounted horizontally on the ceiling. The smoke detector should be at least 50 centimeters from each wall . In addition, you must be careful not to attach the device in a place with strong draft.

Always place the smoke detector on the ceiling

The smoke detector should always be installed on the ceiling in the rooms provided. As smoke rises quickly, the alarm can sound the alarm faster. If you place the smoke detector on a cabinet or mount it on the wall, it generally detects a fire much more slowly.

Editorial Tip: Hire an external company for maintenance

The safest method is to commission an external company both with the installation and the maintenance of the smoke detectors. Thus, experts check the functionality of the devices and you can not be held responsible in case of faulty installation or maintenance.

Maintain smoke detectors regularly

The functionality of the smoke detectors installed in the building must be guaranteed at all times, according to the legal requirements. Therefore, homeowners must check annually whether the devices are still fully functional. Depending on the state, landlords or tenants may be obliged to perform regular maintenance.

The landlord can also transfer the maintenance in the lease to the tenant . However, he must first assure himself that the renter is physically and psychologically able to fulfill the task assigned to him. In addition, the landlord must check whether the maintenance was also carried out properly.

Change batteries regularly

The batteries of the smoke detectors must be replaced regularly. The life of a standard battery is around 1-3 years. If the battery is nearing its end, the smoke detector already emits a recurring warning sound at least 30 days before. If you do not want to change the battery, you can also buy smoke detectors with so-called longlife batteries . These have a lifespan of ten years. Since even smoke detectors must be emptied after ten years at the latest, so eliminates the bothersome battery change for many.

The appropriate building insurance

Smoke detectors make an important contribution to the early detection of a fire. However, they can not replace the protection of reliable homeowners insurance. The warning devices can not prevent a fire but serve primarily to minimize personal injury. After a fire in their own house, however, the owners also have to deal with the financial consequences.

A double hedge protects both your life and your account. In addition to the smoke detectors as protection against physical damage you should therefore always take out a homeowners insurance in order to be financially secure . A look at the building insurance tests can help to gain a good overview of the existing offers of numerous insurers.