Blog posted On September 08, 2021
Over the past several years, the severity and size of wildfires across the U.S. have increased at an alarming rate. In 2020, nearly 40,000 forest fires destroyed 4 million acres of land. In California alone, almost 500,000 homes are located in wildfire zones – as are millions of other homes across the country. But many homeowners are unaware of their risk – leaving them vulnerable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.
Lack of wildfire disclosures leaves homeowners vulnerable
Several states have wildfire-prone areas, but only two of those states require fire-risk disclosures for home buyers and renters. Additionally, the disclosures in those two states are only a couple of sentences long, buried in hundreds of pages of text. In other words, many homeowners are living in a wildfire-prone area and don’t even know it. Consequently, they don’t have wildfire insurance or a wildfire escape plan.
In contrast, 29 states require flood disclosures for home buyers. Within these disclosures, home buyers also know whether their property sits in a flood plain and how much flood insurance costs. This can help them better prepare for potential flooding by purchasing the necessary insurance to financially protect their home and belongings.
How to determine your home’s wildfire risk
If you live in California or Oregon, your home’s wildfire risk is a required disclosure. However, the necessary and helpful information isn’t always clear in the disclosures. To find more information about your home’s risk, you can explore the risk maps created by the U.S. Forest Service. Certain states such as California, Nevada, and Colorado, have wildfire risk assessments online that allow you to plug in your specific address. The best place to get the most detailed information about your home’s wildfire risk is your insurance company.
What to know about wildfire insurance
Most homeowners insurance policies cover wildfire damages, but if you live in a higher-risk area, you might need to purchase additional coverage. Insurance companies will only pay a certain amount for wildfire damages, so if you need more coverage, you will need to buy it separately. To check your coverage, contact your insurance agent. Make sure that you have a full understanding of your coverage, deductible, and risk. Typical homeowners insurance policies will cover:
Other ways to protect your home from wildfires
Insurance will cover your home financially, but there are certain steps you can take to better protect it physically as well.
Hopefully, you’ll never have to use your evacuation plan or wildfire insurance. But in the chance that you will, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.