Wildfire insurance

Protect your home from wildfire damage. Get a home insurance quote today.

What is wildfire insurance?

Wildfire insurance isn't actually a policy you can buy, but people may use that term to describe coverage for damage caused by an uncontrolled and unplanned fire that burns in a natural area. When you have wildfire coverage, your insurance company typically helps pay the cost of repairing your home or remediating smoke damage after a wildfire.

Most people have coverage for wildfires in their home insurance, but that’s not always the case – especially if you live in a fire-prone area.

One second can make all the difference between keeping all that you have or losing everything in a fire. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have the coverage you need so that you’re prepared and can get back on your feet quickly.

It's always wildfire season now.
Vicki Christiansen, Former Chief of the US Forest Service

Does homeowners insurance cover wildfires?

Standard homeowners insurance usually covers fire damage – and that includes damage caused by wildfires. However, it’s becoming more common in wildfire-prone areas for insurance companies to exclude wildfire coverage or significantly raise rates for this basic protection. Some may even refuse to cover a home based on its wildfire risk.

Worse? Wildfires often compromise your home’s foundation – and that can add up to big repair bills. As a result, you may actually be underinsured even if you have wildfire coverage in your homeowners policy.

Considering wildfires are nearly impossible to predict – 90% are caused by human activity and the other 10% are caused by lightning strikes – it’s important for homeowners to check their coverage and make sure they are protected.

What's covered?

  • The structure of your home and belongings

    Wildfire damage such as fire, smoke, and soot.

  • Other structures

    Wildfire damage such as fire, smoke, and soot.

  • Trees and shrubs

    Wildfire damage such as fire.

  • Additional living expenses

    Your policy can also help pay for additional living expenses if a wildfire forces your family to temporarily live somewhere else while your home is being repaired

  • Fire department services

    If charged, your homeowners insurance may help cover those fees up to a certain amount

How much does wildfire insurance cost?

Because wildfire insurance is included in most homeowners insurance, it’s not a separate cost from your policy. You can read more about what premiums look like in your state in our article about homeowners insurance costs.

You should note, however, that homeowners in areas with greater wildfire risk (think: canyons or places with a lot of trees or brush) may pay more for their home insurance.

Even at a higher rate, the cost of home insurance pales in comparison to the sweeping cost of wildfire damage. Take California wildfire insurance claims from 2018 as an example. They reached a staggering $12 billion. Across the US, fire claims related to lightning strikes reached a staggering average of $28,885 per incident.

Imagine paying that out of pocket.

Get a quote

Home insurance with wildfire

coverage averages


per year

US Wildfire Damage by Year

Year Acres Burned Number of Fires
2017 10 million 71.499
2018 8.7 million 58,083
2019 4.6 million 50,477
2020 10.1 million 58,950
2021 7.1 million 58,985

Is wildfire insurance required?

No state-level law requires you to take out a wildfire policy. Nor have we heard of lenders requiring wildfire home insurance to grant a mortgage. However, the data shows that wildfires are becoming more common. That growing risk makes it even more important to have wildfire insurance coverage – especially if you live in a fire-prone area like California.

But it’s not just California homeowners who face wildfire risk. Many western states saw extraordinary wildfire seasons in 2020 and 2021. Florida also has a long history of wildfires, and climate change appears to be bringing more.

All in all, it just makes sense to talk to insurers about wildfire coverage. A homeowners insurance wildfire policy offers you additional peace of mind that your home and belongings are protected.

Wildfire facts

  • 90% of US wildfires are caused by people.
  • In the US, wildfires cause over $1 billion in property damage each year.
  • When a wildfire starts and is not put out quickly, it will continue to spread until all of the fuel within its area has been consumed.
  • In some cases, wildfires have been known to get so large that they create their own weather patterns, generating winds of 70 mph as well as air temperatures hovering around 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wildfires burn approximately 7,000,000 acres of land each year in the US and claim over 500 lives.
  • More than 30% of the total land in the US is currently at risk of significant wildfire damage.
  • A single wildfire can burn up to 12,000 acres in as little as 6 hours.
  • Wildfires have been known to travel at speeds up to 200 miles per hour and to burn for up to 40 hour.

Why you need wildfire insurance

Fire claims are some of the costliest home insurance claims no matter the cause. The reason wildfires are so devastating is because they can impact thousands of homeowners in a single incident.

Unlike fires that start in the home and may stay relatively contained to that household, wildfires can cause widespread destruction. They usually begin in areas with plenty of dry brush that act as fuel and winds to carry the flames (FYI: wildfires can travel up to 14 miles per hour).

The Camp Fire is a good example of just how destructive wildfires can be. During it, California lost 1.8 million acres of land to 8,054 wildfires and destroyed 14,000 residences.

And worst of all? Wildfire season is worsening with climate change.

Traditionally, California has two fire seasons: summer wildfires fueled by heat and fall wildfires fueled by high winds. But fire season is starting earlier and ending later each year, thanks to warmer spring and summer temperatures, reduced snowpack, and earlier spring snowmelt. This creates longer and drier seasons that increase moisture stress on vegetation and make forests more susceptible to severe wildfire.

These conditions created the perfect combination for the unprecedented 2018 wildfires: abundant fuel sources (a record-setting 129 million dead trees at the end of 2017), dry conditions, and high wind speeds. Homes that were previously thought to not be exposed to wildfire risk were lost in record numbers because of the intensity of the fires and high winds.

Moral of the story? Don’t assume your home is free from wildfire risk. Take precautions, plan ahead, and make sure your homeowners insurance can cover the damage.

Related Posts:Keeping exploring