The idea of losing your home to a wildfire is a terrifying thought to think about. Fire season can be scary, but it’s important to be prepared. A small bit of comfort can come from knowing whether or not your insurance covers home fires and how one can prepare for this type of ordeal.
When is Fire Season?
California’s fire season is the most prevalent through the autumn months. Fire season spans from July to October. In total, there have been over 4,100 wildfires in the state of California in 2023. These fires have collectively burned a total of 112,000 acres. Fires are the most common throughout September and October, as these months tend to be the driest of the year. The dryer the land, the more it’s susceptible to catching fire.
In addition to California’s dry plant life, Santa Ana winds are also a main factor in why California is so prone to wildfires. These strong winds can end up blowing small embers from cigarettes into dry shrubbery, or even knock down power lines in extreme conditions.
Insured Against Wildfire
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as “fire insurance.” However, that does not mean your home isn’t insured from fire. What you need is homeowners insurance. This will cover damage from fire as well as wildfires. Under this type of insurance, there are a few main categories to pay attention to when it comes to “fire insurance.”
The first, and most important type of coverage to pay attention to is dwelling coverage. This type of insurance is used to help rebuild the main home if a fire has damaged your house. However, depending on policy limits, this will not be the only type of insurance you will need to help rebuild your house. Oftentimes, if you live in a place with higher likelihood of wildfire, this insurance will require a higher rate and separate deductibles. It’s always a good idea to check your homeowner's insurance to see how much your insurance covers.
Personal property coverage covers everything that is inside a house. This consists of furniture, appliances, or clothing that may be expensive to replace. Depending on what percentage of your dwelling coverage is dedicated to personal property, you can receive a large sum of money for personal damage. For example, let’s say you dedicate 50% of your dwelling coverage to personal property. If you lose $200,000 worth of personal property in a fire, then you could receive up to $100,000 back with this kind of coverage.
The final 2 types of coverage that are also important to consider are other structures coverage and additional living expenses. Other structures coverage will help you repair any type of structure that is not connected to your house. These could be structures like a casita or a detached garage. Additional living expenses will cover most of your day-to-day expenses. Transportation and food are two of the most common examples this type of insurance covers.
U.S. News listed their top 10 homeowners insurance companies of 2023; these companies can be found here. If you’re having trouble finding an international homeowners plan that will cover wildfire expenses, do not fear! You may qualify for California’s FAIR Plan. This state-mandated program was designed to help cover certain costs for high-risk homes within the state when homeowners were denied traditional insurance coverage.
Creating Your “Firewall”
The best way to fight fire is… not with fire. It’s crucial to take preventative measures before a fire starts entirely! Readyforwildfire.org has multiple different resources for those who are susceptible to wildfires. They have an app that allows you to custom create an evacuation checklist (home hardening steps) designed to make your house more fireproof. These preventative steps will help keep you and loved ones safe and prepared if a wildfire were to occur.
Moreover, you can sign up to receive wildfire text messages that are prevalent to your area. It may also be beneficial to remove flammables (like wooden logs) from outside areas or places these objects may easily catch fire. Climate change is causing fire season to extend further into October every year. Remember to take preventative measures and keep our planet safe!