The following list identifies effective means for protecting a dwelling from wildfire loss. The list is not an exhaustive catalogue but is a focused compilation, created through United Policyholders
“WRAP” initiative, of the key recommendations from an array of experts in residential wildfire risk reduction.
United Policyholders is encouraging all insurers to expand eligibility for coverage and to offer discounts in recognition of the reduced risk presented by homes that have incorporated these mitigation measures.
- The dwelling has a well-maintained Class A roof. Where gutters are present, the roof includes a metal drip edge.
- For homes with metal or tile roofs, gaps greater than 1/8 inch between roofing and sheathing have been blocked to prevent debris accumulation and ember entry.
- Exterior vents (e.g., foundation, gable, under eave, and roof vents) incorporate a 1/8 inch metal mesh or are designed for flame and ember resistance (Wildland Flame and Ember Resistant (WUI) vents approved and listed by the California State Fire Marshall or WUI vents listed to ASTM E2886).
- Any wooden fences that attach to the dwelling structure shall incorporate only noncombustible materials (fencing or gating) in the last 5 feet before the attachment point(s) to the structure.
- combustible materials (e.g., grass, shrubs, or stored materials) must be removed from underneath attached wooden decks or stairways and maintained at least 5 feet away from the decks’ or stairways’ perimeters.
Other Attached Structures (arbors, pergolas, trellis)
- Any other structure that is attached to the dwelling structure must be made of noncombustible materials.
Buildings less than 25 feet from the Dwelling Structure or Attached Decking
- If another structure (e.g., a dwelling, garage, barn, shed or commercial building) is within 25 feet of the dwelling, the dwelling’s exterior wall that faces the nearby structure meets a one hour fire rating and includes noncombustible cladding.
- Where windows face the nearby structure, the windows either include dual-paned glass with at least the exterior pane is tempered glass or the windows have deployable metal shutters.
Defensible Space and Landscape
- There is at least 6 inches of noncombustible clearance between the ground and the exterior siding of the dwelling.
- Within the first 5 feet of any dwelling or attached decks, no combustible materials (e.g., woody plants, combustible mulch, stored items) are present around the building or deck(s)or below the deck(s).
- For the landscape from 5-30 feet from structure (or property line if closer), the connectivity of vegetation leading to the dwelling structure has been eliminated. The lower branches of trees have been limbed up at least 6 feet above underlying or adjacent shrubs to eliminate fuel ladder connectivity. The landscaping is irrigated and maintained. Vegetation may be grouped and surrounded by areas of irrigated and mowed grass or hardscaping.
- For the landscape from 30-100 feet from the structure (or property line if closer), there is separation between shrubs and trees, dead branches and leaves have been removed, lower branches of trees are pruned to curtail the spread of fire and to eliminate fuel ladders.
- For dwellings on or adjacent to steep slopes (e.g., slopes greater than 35 degrees), landscape mitigation has been extended downslope and beyond the 100 feet perimeter, where possible, to reduce direct flame contact with or preheating of the dwelling or the underside of any decking.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently published the following helpful information for homeowners regarding homeowners insurance.
It’s important to review your homeowners insurance coverage every year. Make sure it includes any remodeling, the addition of expensive new personal property (such as jewelry or electronics), the installation of security equipment or other changes that might impact your policy.
Price: The price of homeowners insurance depends on a number of things.
- Your home — the cost to rebuild it, whether it’s made of brick or wood, how far it is to the fire department or a water source, its age and condition, and the home’s claims history.
- About you — coverage and deductible, length of coverage, insurance-based credit history, claims history, and whether you insure multiple properties or personal properties such as a car with the same insurer.
- Other characteristics — other factors may impact the price: smoke detectors; a swimming pool or trampoline; pets; or running a business in your home all factor in.
Coverage: Different types of homeowners policies protect your home and personal property in different ways. Insurers describe coverage by the cause of a loss - a peril is the cause of a loss. Comprehensive policies insure against all perils except ones the policy explicitly excludes. The most basic policy insures only against the perils named in the policy, such as fire and theft. You can add riders to cover a risk a policy doesn’t cover. Examples include damage due to sewer or drain backup, and sump pump overflow.
Most homeowners policies don’t cover earthquakes or floods, but you can buy separate policies to cover those risks. In coastal areas, windstorm damage may need to be purchased separately or may require separate percentage deductibles.
Policies typically insure not only the home but also other structures – such as garages. Most policies cover belongings in the home up to the amount stated in the policy and personal liability if you’re sued.
Most policies reimburse some of your expenses if you have to live somewhere else while your home’s under repair.
There are specific policies for condos, mobile homes, and older homes.
Claims: It’s a good idea to review what you’d need to know if you need to file a claim.
- A deductible is the money you have to pay out-of-pocket on a claim before the policy pays the loss. For example, assume you have a $1,000 deductible and the total claim is $5,000. You’d pay $1,000 and collect $4,000 from the insurer. A deductible also may be a percentage of the home’s insured value, not a fixed dollar amount.
- Actual Cash Value coverage pays the repair or replacement costs – after the insurer subtracts an amount based on the home’s or personal property’s age and the wear and tear (depreciation).
- Replacement Cost Coverage pays the full repair or replacement cost, without subtracting for depreciation, for materials of like kind and quality.
How to Protect Yourself
Shop around: The premiums insurance companies charge for homeowners insurance vary widely. It pays to take time to shop around to get the best value. Be sure to ask if you qualify for any discounts. Examples are discounts to protect your home (for example, add storm shutters), update the home’s electrical or plumbing systems, get a new roof, or add home security devices (for example, a burglar alarm). Memberships in certain organizations may also provide a discount (AARP, AAA, even a fraternity or sorority).
Bundle your insurance with one company: Some companies offer multi-policy discounts. For example, if you buy homeowners and auto policies from the same insurer, you may get a discount.
Choose your deductible: A higher deductible may help you save money on your homeowners insurance premium. Just be sure you can afford the deductible if you have a loss.
Understand the trade-offs: Know the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost coverage. The premiums probably are lower for actual cash value coverage. But replacement cost coverage pays more if you have a claim.
Top Things to Remember
- Know the risks to your home and take actions to reduce those risks.
- Know important policy terms. If you don’t understand, ask.
- Compare insurers. Shop around to find the best price and coverage for you, including discounts.
- Choose the deductible and policy that meets both your need for coverage and ability to pay for insurance.
Get more information: For more in-depth information about homeowners insurance, order a copy of the “Consumer Guide to Home Insurance” and “A Shopping Tool for Homeowners Insurance” from NAIC or visit naic.org for more information.
About the NAIC
As part of our state-based system of insurance regulation in the United States, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) provides expertise, data, and analysis for insurance commissioners to effectively regulate the industry and protect consumers. The U.S. standard-setting organization is governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer reviews, and coordinate regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. For more information, visit www.naic.org.
Sacramento, CA – Al Bottalico, Executive Director of the Pacific Association of Domestic Insurance Companies (PADIC), an association of small to mid-sized property and casualty insurance companies based in California, announced today that PADIC is donating $5000 to the Redwood Credit Union’s North Bay Fire Relief Fund. Redwood Credit Union is covering all of the administrative costs of this funds fire relief efforts so 100% of this donation will go to the fire victims and relief efforts.
“PADIC expresses its deepest sympathies to those impacted by the recent devastating fires and we offer our sincere best wishes for a speedy recovery. We expect monies collected by this fund will help the insured and uninsured California residents impacted by this tragedy.” said Mr. Bottalico.
Collectively PADIC members will be paying millions of dollars to California home owners and drivers to cover insured losses from these recent fires. The PADIC member companies stand ready to assist policyholders through this difficult time.
PADIC is headquartered in Sacramento, CA and has been an Association since 2004. PADIC works with regulators, legislators, consumers and policyholders to improve understanding of insurance issues, to keep costs and prices at reasonable levels, to promote healthy and competitive agency-based insurance marketplace and to recognize the economic contributions made to California by domestic insurers. To learn more about PADIC and its members, please visit our website at PADIC.org.
Article from Business Wire.