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At no other time of the year are there as many fires in Swiss homes as in December, and the days over Christmas are particularly bad. But the seemingly obvious culprits – Christmas tree candles – are rarely to blame.

In December, there are around 60 percent more fires in rooms and apartments in Switzerland than at any other time of the year. This is borne out by statistics collected by AXA over the last few years. The days over Christmas itself are particularly bad, with AXA receiving twice as many fire damage claims on those days than on normal days.

Unattended candles are often the cause of such fires, but candles on Christmas trees are rarely the culprits. Candles on Advent wreaths, or even just candles on their own, are much more likely to start fires. “These days, everybody knows you have to be careful with candles on a Christmas tree. Less well known is that other candles have to be supervised at all times, too. Before leaving a room, you have to put out all the candles,” says Stefan Müller, Head of Property Insurance Claims at AXA. Following this rule could help to prevent many fires.

“Before leaving a room, you have to put out all the candles”

Stefan Müller, Head of Property Insurance Claims at AXA

High claims amounts in the event of fire

When it comes to fire and smoke damage, the bill can quickly mount up. The average claims amount for a fire caused by candles is around CHF 6,500. It’s not rare for much higher costs to be involved, however, if homes are left uninhabitable for long periods or – in the worst cases – people are injured.

How you’re covered in the event of fire

Fire damage to household contents is covered by household contents insurance, as is damage caused to household contents by fire extinguishing water. Damage to a property itself is covered by the building insurance that is mandatory in all cantons except for Geneva, Appenzell Innerrhoden, Ticino, and Valais. Personal liability insurance comes into play for damage caused unintentionally to third parties – in rented apartments, for example. 

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