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What a house fire does to your insurance rate

In North Carolina, homeowners insurance can jump by as much as 30% after a house fire. That's why it's worth every penny to have your fireplace or furnace inspected.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Winter is right around the corner, which means almost everyone will be turning up their furnace, fireplace or portable space heaters. 

All of those items are essential for warmth but they also increase the risk for a house fire that can cost big money for years on insurance rates. Obviously, no one wants a fire, but the damage sustained can cost a homeowner even more in the long run. 

This is on top of the physical and emotional loss fires can cause, especially if there is a loss of life. 

"It's almost inevitable that there will be lots of fires every year," LendingTree analyst Andrew Hurst said. "Cooking fires are the leading cause of residential fires. Since 2000, 46% of the time it's the stove or the oven because something was likely left unattended." 

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Heating sources are the second leading cause of fires. Chimneys, wood stoves, portable heaters and furnaces all need to be checked, especially in older homes or if a check hasn't been done in a while.

Nationwide, the average insurance rate jumps 27% after a house fire. In South Carolina, it's a 17% jump for a total loss, while North Carolina policies jump over 30% on average. 

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

Why? Because there haven't been fewer than 350,000 residential fires per year since 2003. It happens a lot and most of them are preventable. 

In the last decade alone, a little more than 67,000 people have been injured in fires related to just chimneys and fireplaces. If you haven't had yours cleaned in a while, it's probably worth it. When you do start shopping around, don't let a contractor oversell you on high-dollar repairs and get multiple bids. 

Contact Bill McGinty at bmcginty@wcnc.com and follow him on Facebook.