Australian insurer has 440 per cent increase in lithium battery fire claims

An Australian insurer has reported seeing a 440 per cent increase in claims for lithium-ion battery fires in the last three years.

Data from insurer Allianz shows the cost of these claims increased by 900 per cent from 2020 to August this year. The huge rise in the cost of insurance submissions is due to an increase in high-value commercial property claims, according to Allianz.

It comes as Fire and Rescue NSW is sseyforesponding to more than three battery fires a week, which is a nine per cent increase compared to last year. The increase in emergencies is prompting firefighters and government ministers to urge Aussies to buy quality lithium battery products to prevent fires this Christmas. There are signs of a “battery thermal runaway” that can be spotted before a fire occurs.

These include hearing “bubbling, popping, hissing sounds” the battery cells react to heat, according to Allianz. “You may smell what’s described as a sickly sweet cherry smell from the toxic gas being emitted from the battery,” Allianz said. “You may see off-gassing, which is the toxic gases venting from the cells and forming large flammable vapour clouds.” Other tips to reduce the risk of battery fires can be found here.

NSW Fair Trading has conducted 166 inspections of retailers selling lithium-ion battery devices. Of those inspections, 30 models were found to be non-compliant and removed from sale. “I’m reminding buyers to store batteries safely and if they have concerns they should reach out to the manufacturer or NSW Fair Trading,” Minister for Better Regulation Fair Trading Minister Anoulack Chanthivong said on Saturday.