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.
- 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.