Does home insurance cover damage caused by forest fires?

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  • Home insurance covers damage to your property caused by fire and smoke.
  • But if you live in an area where wildfires are common, consider increasing your home and personal property coverage.
  • If your home is uninhabitable due to fire or smoke damage, your insurance policy may help you move.
  • See Insider’s Picks for the Best Home Insurance Companies.

Wildfire season has arrived, and with droughts and increasing wildfires, some California homeowner insurance companies are losing customers.

However, California provides insurance for homeowners unable to obtain coverage through the California Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan Association.

While home insurance covers fire damage, if you live in areas prone to forest fires, you may need to increase your coverage limits for your home and personal belongings.

Does home insurance cover damage caused by forest fires?

Home insurance covers your home and personal property against damage, called insurance risks. A peril is an event that can damage your home or property, such as theft, fire, or storm. Common insurance risks include fire, lightning, theft, ice, snow, sleet, wind, hail, smoke, vandalism and freezing.

Home insurance covers damage caused by fire. However, if you live in areas where wildfires are common, Steve Wilson, Senior Underwriting Manager at Hippo Insurance, recommends getting a rider for extended replacement cost coverage as part of your insurance coverage. housing, because the costs of materials to rebuild increase after a forest fire.

Home coverage is the part of a home insurance policy that can help cover the costs of repairing or rebuilding your home if it is damaged.

It is also important to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for personal property. There are limits to standard personal property coverage depending on your policy and insurance company, typically $ 100,000.

Additionally, if you have extensive landscaping, contact your home insurance provider, as some companies have limited coverage for shrubs, according to Allstate.

Specialty items may be excluded or require additional coverage

Additionally, specialty items such as high-end electronics, specialty jewelry, furs, fine art, guns, and cash may not be covered against forest fire damage. . Wilson said these items may require a “personal item” approval or supplemental endorsement.

For specialized jewelry, you can take out a floating policy in addition to your home insurance. Another option is to purchase self-contained personal jewelry insurance. Your jewelry and art objects should be appraised before purchasing a floating or standalone font.

It is a good idea to take an inventory of your furniture and personal effects. Some home insurance companies will have inventory lists to fill out. If you have riders for art and specialty jewelry, you will need to catalog them and provide ratings for them.

Top 10 States for Forest Fires

In 2020, these states saw the most wildfires, according to the Insurance Information Institute:

About 90% of forest fires are caused by people and the remaining 10% by lightning or lava, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Will home insurance cover the move?

“Loss of Use” coverage, also known as “Additional Living Expenses” or ALE, is included in most home and tenant insurance policies and provides reimbursement for temporary accommodation when a peril occurs. damage to your property or to your possessions that make up your house or rental unit. habitable.

For “loss of use” and “additional living expenses” it depends a lot on your insurance company and it varies by provider. Some carriers will reimburse you for temporary accommodation. Others may have a list of housing alternatives.

Ashlee Tilford, editor-in-chief of Insurance.com, told Insider that most homeowners have a misconception about what constitutes “habitable.” Do not assume that your insurer will pay additional living expenses, as the definition of habitable varies by company.

If you are planning to leave your home due to forest fire damage, first contact your home or tenant insurance provider and take detailed photos of the damage. Also make sure to lock down and secure the premises.

What to do if you suffer damage from a forest fire

After a disaster, Wilson recommends staying in touch with your home insurance company to let them know what’s going on with you and taking the following steps when submitting insurance claims:

  1. Contact the insurance company to file a claim as soon as possible. For homeowners, your operator can provide a list of contractors and offer advice on DIY tips to avoid further damage. If you are a tenant, you should also notify your landlord or property management company.
  2. Take photos of the damage before disposal and cleaning.
  3. Beware of price gouging contractors and door-to-door scammers. Ask contractors for their license and insurance credentials to avoid fraud. If you are a tenant, your landlord is responsible for the building and the structure.
  4. Prevent further damage to your property.
  5. Don’t do something that you are not comfortable with / that does not seem safe. Home insurance has a condition to avoid further losses. Focus on a temporary solution rather than a long term solution so that insurance can properly access a permanent solution by a professional.

Tips for preparing your home for a forest fire

Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Assocation (RMIIA) and Hippo Insurance’s Wilson recommend taking the following steps to ensure you are prepared in the event of a wildfire.

  1. Review your home insurance each year with your insurer to make sure you have appropriate coverage for your home and personal property in your area.
  2. Have an evacuation plan indicating where to meet and what time before a disaster and communicate it to family members.
  3. Carry a small bag with medicine, a flashlight and batteries for three days. Include copies of important documents such as: birth certificates, ID cards, passports, car title, pet tags and a USB drive with documents.
  4. Have temporary repair material such as a tarp available.
  5. Contact your home insurance company if an announcement of natural disaster is declared. If you have time, turn off the gas at the meter and the butane tank.
  6. Prevent damage by creating a 30-foot defense around your home by removing flammable materials, like woodpiles and propane tanks.
  7. Replace flammable landscaping with fire-resistant plants.
  8. Prune branches and remove leaves from the roof, gutters and shingles.
  9. Have an emergency water supply.
  10. Have firefighting tools – such as a garden hose, rake, ladder, shovel, and buckets of water – in an accessible location.


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