Wildfires & Your Insurance

What Washington needs to know

Wildfires can happen anywhere in the United States, but the western part of the country suffers the most from summer wildfires.  Each year hundreds of homes are destroyed as more people choose to be closer to nature.  Once a wildfire starts in your area, you can’t control it or prevent it from getting close to your home.  But if you prepare in advance, you can minimize the risk of damage by taking steps to better your chances when wildfire strikes.

Know what your insurance covers and how much you need

Your property insurance policy will usually provide coverage for damage due to wildfires for repair or rebuilding costs.  If you can’t live in your home, it will also pay additional living expenses as provided in your policy.  To protect yourself from financial loss, you should be sure to review your insurance policy once a year to make sure you have enough coverage to rebuild your home based on current construction costs. You will want to be sure you have homeowners insurance that provides for the replacement cost of your home rather than cash value-especially if you live in a high risk area.  Carriage Insurance recommends you work with an independent appraiser to get a precise estimate, and make sure you talk to us about your building’s unique features.  You should also check to see what’s covered and the deductible you have chosen.  Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for repair or replacement of your home and personal belongings due to wildfire damage, as well as damage by smoke and soot.

Business owners should also consider business income insurance, which is designed to cover the costs of replacing lost profits, payroll and operating expenses if you are shut down while repairs are being made.

You can reduce the chance of losing to wildfire and taking additional safety measures may earn you a discount on your insurance.  If you live near a fire department or your home is constructed of fire-resistant materials, your insurance rates will be lower.  To save even more money, you can install a fire alarm that alerts an outside service.  Upgrading your home’s wiring and installing smoke detectors and fire extinguishers will also save you money.