Lately, many insurance companies have been reluctant to cover wildfires for homeowners because of the year-round risks involved. When available, the coverage is often quite expensive, temporary, or limited, especially in risk-prone areas like California.
What Does Coverage for Wildfires Look Like?
If your homeowners’ insurance covers wildfire damage, here are the protections it’ll typically provide:
- Primary dwelling and detached structures coverage: Your policy limits should match your home’s replacement cost to guarantee complete coverage. The coverage would include your house and detached structures like a fence or garage.
- Personal belongings coverage: This coverage includes personal property in your homes, such as appliances, valuables, clothing, food, and furniture.
- Loss of use coverage: If a wildfire damages your home and forces you to relocate, you are covered for the interim living costs over and above your usual and customary expenses.
- Liability coverage: This applies when other people are injured or their property is damaged on your insured property.
Homeowners Insurance in Fire-Prone Regions
As a homeowner in a fire-prone area, you may be able to find other coverage options if wildfire insurance is out of your price range. These include:
- Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plans: FAIR Plans provide protection against risks like vandalism, fire, and windstorms and are available in all states. However, these policies are often expensive, provide temporary coverage, and do not cover medical payments and liabilities. Due to their limited coverage, FAIR Plans are probably not a good option for a high-end property.
- Surplus Lines Carriers: These insurers sell policies (at a higher price) for risks that standard policies coverages often exclude. Consider buying from them if you’re unable to find homeowners insurance from traditional providers due to living in a fire-prone area.
- Premier Insurers: You may be a good fit for a premier home insurance policy if you own a high-end property in a high-risk area. These policies may include extra insurance coverage, such as fire prevention and firefighting services.
What to Do If Your Provider Doesn’t Renew Your Homeowners Insurance?
If you live in a fire-prone state like California, you face a higher risk of homeowner insurance cancellation or non-renewal. In that case, you should research and keep a list of potential carriers that could provide alternative coverage. In case of non-renewal, you can quickly purchase a home insurance policy and avoid exposing your assets to unnecessary risk.
Steps for Filing a Wildfire Insurance Claim
- Call your insurance agent right away to start the claim process.
- Document the damage: Once you can safely return home, take photos and videos to document the damage.
- Record all expenses: If the wildfire destroyed your home, track your temporary living expenses. Remember to file all your hotel/meals receipts as your insurer will require that evidence to compensate you accordingly.
Wildfire coverage for homeowners in fire-prone zones is hard to come by these days. Most private insurers have shunned this coverage because of the all-year risk involved. If you’re unable to find affordable homeowners insurance for your property, contact us at Hoffman Brown Company for a cost-effective solution.