As an ex-firefighter, wildfire season has always been a particularly precarious time of year for the men and women trained to respond. Traditionally, dry summers and Santa Ana wind conditions have been the recipe for numerous wildfire outbreaks from June to October. This year, however, with extreme drought conditions, wildfires pose a year-round threat to residents and businesses. Homeowners who live in or are building a home in remote or rural areas need to be particularly diligent in ensuring their home and assets are protected. If you own a residence in California, it’s time to consider wildfire protection.
As large developments move further East in search of land and privacy, wildfire breakouts pose an exponentially higher threat. These areas are typically less convenient for fire fighters and flammable brush is naturally more abundant.
Removing brush to avoid catastrophic loss, however, is simply not enough. Luckily, a handful of insurance providers now provide complete wildfire protection services. Chubb, AIG, ACE and Fireman’s Fund are among these few carriers who offer comprehensive in-home consulting before a wildfire event and emergency response services to mitigate losses during a wildfire event when a threat is imminent. All of these carriers operate command centers to monitor wildfire conditions throughout the United States. These centers can plot individual insured homes and monitor fire line activity in real time so response crews can be dispatched to the most threatened homes.
One San Diego homeowner and Marsh & McLennan Agency client recently experienced the benefits of the Fireman’s Fund Wildfire Defense Program firsthand during the May Carlsbad outbreak. A Risk Services Consultant reached out to the homeowner to alert him they were monitoring the threat and were sending a contracted vendor service to his property to remove combustible material, apply a flame retardant spray to the home and remain on site until the threat had passed. Despite evacuating, the carrier’s services not only helped protect the family’s home and contents, but provided the homeowner with peace of mind during an incredibly stressful period.
As with all insurance, focusing on prevention instead of dealing with losses is key. For homes especially, repairing or rebuilding damaged or destroyed property can be a months-long, emotional process. If you live in a high risk area, wildfire protection is an essential coverage that can provide additional defense against wildfires and much needed peace of mind. Contact your broker today to make sure your homeowners insurance policy includes wildfire protection.