Homeowners Insurance and Wildfires: What You Need to Know

Published:September 26, 2023
Edited:
February 22, 2024

Navigate the complexities of wildfire insurance coverage with expert guidance from WFCA. Ensure your belongings are covered in the event of a catastrophic wildfire.

wildfire and homeowners insurance

In an area prone to wildfires, it’s essential to understand how homeowners insurance can protect you. In this article, we’ll dive into the world of homeowners insurance and wildfires. We’ll explore the coverage you can expect, the procedures for handling claims, and the proactive steps you can take to ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wildfires?

Homeowners insurance plays a crucial role in your financial protection, especially when your home faces potential damage or destruction from covered disasters like wildfires. The coverage typically includes repairs or rebuilding of your home, as well as replacing or repairing damaged personal belongings.

It’s important to note that there is no standalone “wildfire insurance policy.” Instead, coverage for wildfires is typically a built-in component of a standard homeowners insurance policy. Coverage and terms vary, so it’s crucial to review your policy to understand the specific details and limitations.1 If you’re uncertain of your coverage or want to ensure its adequacy, it’s wise to consult with your insurance provider. They can offer the most accurate and personalized information regarding your coverage options.2

When Does Homeowners Insurance Not Cover Wildfire Damage?

Some reasons why homeowners insurance may not cover wildfire damage include:

  • High-Risk Area: If your home is located in an area with a high risk of wildfires, insurance companies may be hesitant to provide coverage or may charge higher premiums. In some cases, insurers may even stop selling policies in these areas altogether.3
  • Policy Exclusions: Homeowners insurance policies may have specific exclusions for certain types of perils, including wildfires. These exclusions can vary depending on the insurance company and policy terms.
  • Insufficient Coverage: Even if your homeowners insurance policy includes coverage for wildfire damage, it may not completely cover the expenses of rebuilding or repairing your home. When reviewing your policy’s dwelling coverage, make sure it adequately reflects the replacement cost of your home.

In situations where obtaining homeowners insurance becomes challenging, homeowners in high-risk areas may need to explore alternative options. One option is to pursue a state-run insurance program called Fair Access to Insurance Requirements plans (FAIR plans). These plans, available in 30 states, aim to provide coverage for homeowners in high-risk areas who may have difficulty obtaining insurance through traditional means.

What Does Wildfire Damage Coverage Typically Include?

Knowing what you’re paying for can help you better prepare for any potential wildfire damage. Here are some key components that wildfire damage coverage may include:

  • Dwelling Coverage: Typically includes the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home.
  • Other Structures Coverage: Extends to structures on your property that are not attached to your main dwelling or house, such as fences, garages, or gazebos.
  • Personal Property Coverage: To protect your personal belongings in your home, such as clothing, furniture art, and electronics.
  • Additional Living Expenses: This coverage can assist with the additional costs you may incur for temporary housing, meals, and other living expenses while your home is being repaired or rebuilt.8
  • Liability Coverage: In the unfortunate event that someone is injured on your property due to a wildfire, liability coverage can help protect you financially by covering legal expenses and medical bills.1

Does Renters Insurance Cover Damage Caused by Wildfires?

When it comes to damage caused by wildfires, your landlord’s insurance policy typically covers the structure itself. However, your personal belongings are not covered by your landlord’s insurance. That’s where renters insurance comes in.

Renters insurance is designed to protect your belongings in the event of damage or loss caused by various perils, including wildfires. It provides coverage for your personal property, such as furniture, electronics, clothing, and more. Renters insurance may also provide liability coverage. This can be beneficial if someone is injured on your rented property due to a wildfire, as it can help cover medical expenses or legal costs if you are found responsible.4

How Are Claims Settled in a Wildfire Insurance Case?

When it comes to settling insurance claims in a wildfire case, there are a few steps involved. Here’s a breakdown of the process:

  1. 1. File a Claim: The insured must promptly file a claim form with their insurance company. It’s important to do this as soon as possible, typically within 15 days of the fire. The claim form will require you to provide details about the incident, such as the date of the fire, location, and a description of the damages.5
  2. 2. Document the Damages: To support your claim, it’s crucial to gather evidence of the damages caused by the wildfire. This can include taking photos or videos of the affected areas, documenting the loss of personal belongings, and keeping any receipts or invoices related to repairs or replacements.
  3. 3. Insurance Adjuster Evaluation: After you file a claim, an insurance adjuster will be assigned to assess the damages. They will typically visit the property to evaluate the extent of the losses and determine the amount of compensation you are entitled to under your policy.
  4. 4. Claim Settlement: Once the insurance adjuster completes their evaluation, they will provide a settlement offer based on the terms of your policy and the damages incurred. This offer may cover the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property, as well as any additional living expenses if you were displaced from your home.6
  5. 5. Negotiation and Resolution: If you believe that the settlement offer is insufficient to cover your losses, you can negotiate with the insurance company to reach a fair resolution. This may involve providing additional evidence or documentation to support your claim. It’s important to carefully review any settlement offers and consult with a professional, such as a public adjuster or attorney if needed.7

Sources

  1. All State, “Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wildfires?” Accessed September 12, 2023.  
  2. Quote Wizard, “Homeowners Insurance and Wildfire Coverage.” Accessed September 12, 2023.
  3. Mercury Insurance “Why is My House Difficult to Insure.” Accessed September 12, 2023.
  4. Progressive, “Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Wildfires?.” Accessed September 12, 2023.
  5. Insurance Information Institute, “Settling Insurance Claims After a Disaster.” Accessed September 13, 2023.
  6. Consumer Reports, “How to File a Homeowners Insurance Claim After a Fire.” Accessed September 13, 2023.
  7. Insurance Claim Consultants, “FAQ’s – Fire Insurance Claim Help.” Accessed September 13, 2023.
  8. Forbes, “What to Know About Wildfire Insurance.” Accessed September 13, 2023.

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