Does home insurance cover damage caused by forest fires?
If you’re increasingly concerned about the number of wildfires the United States experiences each year, you might be wondering if your home insurance covers wildfire damage should one occur. in your region. Having this knowledge can make a huge difference in the stress you feel during a wildfire season. If you own a home, it’s important to understand the type of coverage your homeowners insurance provides so that you and your family are financially prepared if your home is damaged or destroyed by an unfortunate event, such as a Forest fire.
How does home insurance cover forest fire damage?
Home insurance policies generally cover damage caused by fires, including wildfires. No matter what type of home insurance policy you have, whether it’s a standard HO-3 policy or a more comprehensive HO-5 policy, for example, fire damage is usually covered.
Coverage of dwellings and isolated structures
Your home and detached structures on your property, such as a fence or detached garage, are usually covered for wildfire damage under your homeowners insurance policy. Your home is covered by Coverage A, Dwelling Coverage, while individual structures are covered by Coverage B, Other Structures Coverage. Both of these types of coverage have policy limits associated with them, so it’s important to review your insurance policy with a licensed insurance agent or home insurance company to confirm that your home is adequately covered.
If your personal belongings, such as clothing and furniture, are damaged or destroyed due to a wildfire, they will likely be covered by your home insurance policy. Personal effects are covered by Coverage C, personal property coverage, and this coverage is usually set at 50% – 75% of your home coverage.
If some of your belongings are not stored in the home, such as in a storage unit, your home insurance policy usually provides a small percentage of personal property coverage if those items are damaged as well. However, personal items used for business purposes or items of high value, such as jewelry or fine art, may not qualify for the necessary coverage for damage caused by a wildfire under a standard home insurance policy.
Additional living expenses
Home insurance also helps cover additional living expenses if you are temporarily displaced from your home due to a wildfire. Known as loss of use coverage or additional living expense coverage, this type of coverage can help cover expenses such as hotel expenses, restaurant or grocery expenses, and boarding expenses. for pets while your home is uninhabitable up to your policy limits.
When does home insurance not cover damage caused by a forest fire?
Some areas of the United States where homeowners have a higher risk of wildfire damage, such as California, may have more difficulty obtaining this type of coverage. Home insurance companies may exclude wildfire damage on a standard insurance policy or refuse to underwrite coverage in these high fire risk areas. If this is the case where you live, a Fair Access to Insurance Requirements plan, or FAIR plan, may be needed to have coverage in a wildfire-prone area.
How to prevent home damage from wildfires
Wildfires are commonplace in the United States. It’s important to know what your home insurance covers, but it’s also important to take precautions for the safety of your home.
Here are some tips for keeping your home safe from wildfires and other types of fire damage:
- You must ensure that your home is well equipped with a smoke detector and a fire extinguisher.
- Perform regular maintenance on your wood stove or fireplace.
- Install sprinklers in your home.
- Keep all combustible materials away from open flames, such as a stove or fireplace.
- Clear brush and debris from your home.
- Keep your gutters free of leaves and other debris.
The bottom line
When it comes to your home, you need to be prepared for a wildfire, to minimize the damage and get back on your feet as soon as possible. It’s not just about having a fire extinguisher or knowing how to file an insurance claim. Understanding how your home insurance coverage applies, or does not apply in some cases, can help you prepare if you find out you live in a wildfire area.