Wildfires across the U.S. continue to increase in frequency and severity due to sustained climate change, which creates more favorable conditions for fires to burn. Fueling the fires to burn quicker and spread rapidly are higher temperatures drying out vegetation, higher wind speeds, and reduced precipitation in certain parts of the country.
Overall, climate change is increasing the prevalence of wildfires by creating more favorable conditions for their occurrence. If the world continues to experience warming temperatures and extreme weather, wildfires will continue to be a significant threat to communities and ecosystems across the globe. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that your property and assets are properly covered by your insurance policies.
Ensure You’re Adequately Covered in the Event of a Wildfire
Review these key areas in your policies with your trusted insurance advisor:
This provides protection for the structure of your home, including repairs if your home is damaged or destroyed in a wildfire. Make sure that your dwelling coverage is enough to rebuild your home from the ground up in case of a complete loss.
Tip: Make sure you have up-to-date valuations for your property, so you’re not left underinsured. Take into account the current economic state. For example, in an inflationary environment, consider higher costs for catastrophic loss and debris removal.
Personal property coverage:
This covers the personal contents in the home that are not permanently attached or fixed to the dwelling structure. Be sure to review your home contracts, as many times there are sub-limits for personal property, including jewelry, electronics, and more. Take an inventory of your personal belongings and ensure that your policy provides enough coverage to replace all your items in case of a loss.
Additional living expenses:
If you are forced to evacuate your home due to a wildfire, additional living expenses coverage can help cover the cost of temporary shelter, food, and other expenses while you are away from your home.
This protects you if someone is injured on your property. Make sure your liability limits are enough to protect you from any potential lawsuits or claims. We recommend consulting with your financial advisor and taking into consideration your current assets, invested assets, and future potential earnings when determining the most appropriate amount of coverage.
Note: Nuclear verdicts (jury verdicts over $10 million) are on the rise, so it’s essential to be properly covered.
Depending on where you live, certain policy provisions may be necessary to ensure full coverage. For example, if you live in an area prone to wildfires, you may need additional coverage for smoke damage or debris removal.
Note Possible Exclusions in Your Policies
It’s important to note that some insurance policies may include exclusions related to wildfires. These can vary depending on the policy and the insurance company, but generally, common exclusions may include:
Neglect or failure to maintain the property:
If the insurance company finds that the property owner neglected to trim trees or keep the yard clear of debris, they may deny coverage for damages caused by a wildfire.
If a fire is intentionally set by the policyholder or someone acting on their behalf, coverage may be denied.
If the property is left vacant for an extended period, the insurance company may deny coverage for damages caused by a wildfire.
Some policies may have exclusions for damages caused by specific natural disasters, such as earthquakes or floods, which may be common in wildfire-prone areas.
Take Steps to Help Safeguard Your Personal Property, Assets, and Future
Review and update your policy annually:
It’s essential to review your policy with your advisor annually and update your coverage as necessary to ensure that you always have adequate protection in the event of a wildfire or other disaster.
Prepare your home in wildfire-prone areas:
There are steps you can take to protect your home and assets. Though no building is completely fireproof, taking precautions can help protect your home or business from the worst possible outcome. Read our tips here.
Create an emergency preparedness kit:
You never know when disaster will strike, and this is especially true for wildfires. They provide little warning that they’re coming and can be extremely destructive. It’s crucial to always be prepared for the unexpected with an emergency preparedness kit that includes supplemental items for those in wildfire-prone areas. Read our guide here.
Be sure to review your insurance policies with your trusted advisor to help ensure adequate coverage for any potential disaster scenario. Contact us for a review of your policies, especially if you live in a wildfire-prone area.
Emergency Preparedness Kit
You never know when disaster will strike, and this is especially true for wildfires. They provide little warning that they’re coming and can be extremely destructive. It’s crucial to always be prepared for the unexpected with an emergency preparedness kit that includes supplemental items for those in wildfire-prone areas.
- Water: one gallon per person, per day for 3-7 days
- Food: 3-7-day supply of non-perishable items that are easy to prepare, such as canned foods or snacks. Pack a can opener for canned foods.
- Disposable plates, cups, and utensils
- First aid kit
- Medications: 7-day supply and items needed to administer medication, medication list, pertinent medical information
- Personal hygiene and sanitation items
- Extra batteries
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio, preferably an NOAA weather radio
- Cell phone chargers and backup batteries
- Family and emergency contact information
- Maps of the area
- Full coverage goggles
- Long-sleeve shirt and pants (cotton or wool and bright colors when possible)
- Respirator/face mask (N95 recommended)
- Copies of important documents (birth certificates, passports, etc.)
- Sanitation supplies (toilet paper, feminine Hygiene, baby wipes, etc.)
- Family and emergency contact information
Pets, Babies, & Seniors:
- Pets and livestock: identification, immunization records, carrier, collar, leash, bowl, medications, water, and food
- Babies: bottles, formula, baby food, diapers, wipes, small toys
- Seniors: hearing aids with extra batteries, instructions about how to administer medicine and use lifesaving equipment, contact information for medical personnel who administer treatments
- An ax, a shovel, and a broom
- Rope for towing or rescue
- Sturdy shoes that can protect you from dangerous debris
- Heavy-duty gloves for cleaning up debris
- Dry chemical fire extinguisher
Besides having a wildfire emergency kit, take steps to fire-proof your home and properties and build an emergency action plan. It’s also a good idea to connect with a broker to review your policies and make sure you’ll be covered in case of an emergency.
Contact us for more tips and information about how to stay safe during extreme weather events and natural disasters.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. BRPGroup, Inc. and its affiliates, do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult with your own tax, legal or accounting professionals before engaging in any transaction.