Do You Have Adequate Coverage for a Wildfire?


Destructive wildfires are a tragic reality. This year, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has reported that the Mendocino Complex fire was the largest in the state's history after burning through more than 459,000 acres. If you live in an area that is at risk for wildfires, it is imperative that you take the appropriate measures to protect your home.

Part of that protection is ensuring that you have enough insurance to cover you and your finances in the case of a catastrophic emergency.

Consider these types of insurance coverage when assessing your needs to protect your finances and your property from wildfires.

Homeowners or Renter Policy: This covers destruction and damage caused by fire, which includes wildfires. In the event of a fire, your insurance company will pay to rebuild or repair your home and remediate the smoke damage. This policy, or a renter insurance policy, will cover your belongings present in the damaged home. If your home has been rendered uninhabitable by a wildfire, your homeowners or renter insurance may reimburse you for any additional living expenses (ALE) incurred as a result, such as a hotel room or meals out.

Business Policy: The typical business owner's policy covers fire damage to the building, or office space, equipment, and inventory. Business income, or business interruption, insurance (BI) covers the profits a business would have earned, as well as the additional operating expenses incurred as a result of the disaster (such as the cost of operating out of a temporary location).

According to Insurance Business magazine, "Some neighborhoods in California have yet to bounce back after 2017's destructive blazes. Santa Rosa's Fountaingrove community saw all but some 50 of its 1,685 homes wiped out, while the nearby neighborhood of Coffey Park was likewise leveled with more than 1,200 of the 1,651 homes destroyed, according to Kopperud, and the rebuilding of homes has been slow."

In order to protect your property as much as possible, make certain that you have the proper insurance. And if you must file a claim, be sure to follow these steps:

  • If you live in an area prone to a wildfire, it would be a good idea to keep your insurance information in a secure place with your other important documents. Ideally, you would be able to get to them with little effort if forced to evacuate in a hurry.
  • It is always a good idea for every homeowner to document their personal belongings located inside the home. This can be done with a video camera or a regular camera. You should keep a copy of this documentation in a firebox or offsite in a safety deposit box etc. If you end up filing a claim for a personal property loss, you will be required to produce a list of the damaged items and related information, including a description of the item, the age, value etc.
  • If you have animals, know ahead of time where you might board them if you have to evacuate your property for an extended period of time.
  • While the exact circumstances of a loss will determine whether or not coverage applies, it is always a good idea to keep all of your receipts related to any claim that you might file.
  • In the event that you do suffer a loss, contact our claims departments as soon as it is safe to do so.