Owning a home in California is a dream come true for many people, especially if you love the beach and endless sun. But if you own a home in the Golden State, it’s important to understand the serious risk of wildfires. In 2021, there were 8,619 wildfires in California that burned nearly 2.6 million acres. No matter where you live in California, having wildfire insurance to protect your home can be imperative.
what causes the california wildfires?
according to the national park service, approximately 85% of wildfires in the us. uu. they are caused by humans. The most common causes of wildfires include the following:
- burning debris
- cigarettes thrown away carelessly
- equipment malfunction
- unattended campfires
- houses with existing damage that have no repair plans
- vacant or long-term unoccupied homes
- property used for federally unlawful purposes
In addition to human causes, lightning has the potential to start wildfires if it lasts for an unusual length of time. Especially during the 2020 California wildfires, dry lightning was a leading cause of record burns. The state’s hot, dry weather only added fuel to the 14,000 dry lightning strikes that sparked flame after flame in 2020.
Some areas of California have a higher risk of wildfires than others, which can make it more difficult to find affordable home insurance. For example, if you live in Los Angeles County, Riverside County, Napa County, or Yolo Country, you can expect to pay a much higher rate for home insurance on average, as these areas are more prone to home insurance. to forest fires.
When you apply for a home insurance policy, insurers charge for coverage according to the level of risk they assume by hiring you as the policyholder. Because of this, some insurance companies will charge higher premiums, increase deductibles, limit payments, or deny coverage altogether for homes in high-risk regions.
Does home insurance cover forest fires?
Most standard homeowners insurance policies will cover damage from fire, including wildfires. There are many different types of coverage that can help policyholders pay for the cost of repairing or replacing their homes, or replacing their personal property.
Dwelling coverage pays the cost to rebuild or replace the physical structure of your home and any attached structures after a wildfire, including attached decks or garages. Because rebuilding your home after a wildfire can be very expensive, it’s important that you have enough home insurance. The cost to rebuild a house in California depends on the area. For example, the average construction cost in Fresno, a city that is susceptible to wildfires, is $290,000.
coverage of other structures
Like Dwelling coverage, Other Structures coverage provides financial support for the cost of rebuilding or replacing unattached structures on your wildfire-affected property, including sheds, detached garages, fences, and pool houses. If you have multiple detached structures on your property, be sure to purchase enough coverage to rebuild them in the event of a wildfire. Your homeowners policy generally does not extend coverage to separate structures.
personal property coverage
Personal property coverage pays to repair or replace your personal items that are damaged in a wildfire. It applies to most things you own, including appliances, clothing, furniture, and electronics. When choosing personal property coverage limits, it’s a good idea to inspect your personal property to make sure you have enough coverage limits. Even if a wildfire doesn’t burn down the entire interior of your home, most items need to be replaced due to smoke damage.
loss of use coverage
This coverage is also known as additional living expenses and covers the cost of hotel stays, meals, and other expenses related to being unable to live in your home due to a wildfire. If you live in California, having coverage for loss of use can be essential. If a wildfire destroys your home, you’ll need to live elsewhere while your home is rebuilt. Loss of use policy limits are usually tied to the amount of homeowners insurance you have, but policy limits can usually be increased.
Does condo insurance cover forest fires?
In most cases, condo insurance policies will cover wildfire damage to the interior walls of your living space. the exterior of the condominium must be covered by the homeowners association master policy. Each condo insurance policy has different coverage options available that can help policyholders pay for the cost of replacing, repairing, or rebuilding personal property damaged in a wildfire event.
interior wall coverage
Depending on the type of master policy your hoa has, coverage may be provided for specific items within your condo if they are damaged in a wildfire. An “all-in” master policy provides coverage for things like appliances, carpet, electrical, and plumbing, while a “bare walls” policy won’t cover anything inside the unit’s walls. With interior walls coverage, you may be able to use your policy to pay for the cost of repairing or replacing damaged items within the walls of your condo that would not be covered by the main hoa policy.
personal property coverage
As with a homeowners insurance policy, personal property coverage allows condo owners to recover the cost of replacing personal items such as electronics, furniture, appliances and jewelry if they are damaged in a wildfire . Your hoa’s master policy won’t cover your personal property, even if it’s an all-inclusive policy or if the wildfire destroys the entire building.
coverage of additional living expenses
As with homeowners insurance, this option covers expenses incurred as a result of being displaced from your condo due to a wildfire. Expenses such as hotel stays, restaurant bills, pet boarding, and laundry services may be covered by your insurance provider if you have chosen additional living expense coverage. Californians who have been asked to evacuate can file a claim, even if the wildfire never reaches their condo.
how do you get insurance on common wildfire areas?
As mentioned, some insurers may deny or discontinue coverage for homeowners who live in high-risk wildfire areas. This is especially common in certain areas of California, such as Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento. If this happens, there are a few routes homeowners can take to get coverage.
the plan of the fair
The Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan is a state-mandated program that provides access to insurance products for people who live on high-risk properties, such as those in California wildfire-prone areas . State residents can apply for the plan if they own property in California and meet certain building requirements.
While the fair plan provides coverage solutions for high-risk homes, residents can only qualify if they have fully exhausted the options available through the voluntary marketplace and have been denied coverage. Fair plans are not only more expensive, they offer fewer coverage options and lower policy limits. For example, the California Fair Plan does not currently offer replacement cost home or personal property coverages. In addition, the plan will not cover:
excess or surplus line carrier
In addition to the California Fair plan, residents can obtain homeowners insurance through a surplus or surplus line provider, such as Pure Insurance or Markel. These insurers provide coverage for homes that providers through the standard marketplace will not accept as clients. surplus lines don’t meet the same state regulations as standard companies, making them more expensive than the average homeowners insurance policy.
If your home is located in a high-risk California wildfire area and your standard carrier has abandoned you, you may be able to find coverage through a more expensive primary carrier. Below are some of the most popular major insurance companies and their average annual premiums, obtained from quadrant information services, as well as their benefits and eligibility requirements for California residents:
how to help prevent wildfire damage
California homeowners can take some steps to prevent wildfire damage to their homes. The following checklist for homeowners illustrates the top concerns residents should address during wildfire season:
- know your risk: Be aware of droughts affecting your area, consider having your property inspected by a professional, and understand your community’s wildfire response strategy.
- Remove excess vegetation: Leafy greens are fuel for California wildfires. fema recommends that homeowners create a 30-foot buffer zone around their residence to keep the volume of vegetation to a minimum. remove vines from walls, move bushes away from structure, trim branches/bushes within 15 feet of chimneys and stove pipes, remove tree limbs within 15 feet of the ground, and replace highly flammable plants with lower growing and less fire prone species.
- Keep Combustibles Away: Keep all firewood stacked at least 100 feet and uphill from your home. Also, make sure your gas grill and propane tank are at least 15 feet away from the house. make sure there is also 15 feet of clearance around your grilling equipment. make sure all gutters are clear of leaves and other flammable debris.
- Leave no open spaces: Decks, porches, and balconies with exposed spaces below are fuel for California wildfires. keep combustibles clean under decks and porches, and extend a ½-inch mesh screen from all overhangs to the ground. use fire-retardant patio furniture and materials when building new structures for your home.
- Cover home openings: Attic vents, soffit vents, and shutters are major areas of the home where floating embers and burning debris can enter and light up easily. make sure all openings are covered with ¼-inch mesh wire to keep burning materials out of the house.
- have fire-resistant roofing and siding: Replace any wood, batten, or shingle roofing materials with fire-resistant alternatives such as single-ply membranes, fiberglass shingles, slate, metal, clay or concrete tile. Make sure your home’s siding is made of non-combustible materials such as stucco, metal, brick, cement tile, concrete, or rock. Wood siding can be treated with UL approved fire retardant chemicals; however, this is not a permanent solution.
- Treat your windows: If your home has particularly large windows, this can increase your risk of igniting combustible materials inside your home. Double-pane and triple-pane thermal glass and fire-rated shutters can help reduce the risk of a wildfire affecting your home or personal property.
By taking the time to prepare your home’s interior and exterior features in advance of wildfire season, you can reduce the risk of damage and filing a claim with your insurance provider.
frequently asked questions
what is the best homeowners insurance company?
can I cancel my homeowners insurance policy if my house is in a wildfire prone area?
Can I get discounts on homeowners insurance if I use fire safety equipment?
how quickly does a homeowners insurance company pay after a wildfire claim?