Do you know what to do to prepare for a wildfire? Do you have proper insurance coverages in place to assure your home will be replaced properly if the worst happens? It is critical to make sure you and your family are prepared if you reside in a wildfire prone area. Each year hundreds of homes are destroyed as more people choose to live closer to nature. Over the last several weeks Colorado has begun to see its share of dangerous wildfires with numerous homes being destroyed. While hopefully the unthinkable doesn’t happen to you, it’s always best to be prepared in advance of a disaster in order to keep your family and hopefully your home safe. It’s important to not only understand your homeowners insurance policy and have proper coverage limits, but to also be prepared before, during and after a wildfire.
Know what your insurance covers and how much you need
Your insurance policy covers repair or rebuilding costs. If you can’t live in your home, your homeowners insurance will typically cover additional living expenses as provided in your policy—typically for up to 12 months. Review your policy for detailed coverage explanations.
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.
It is important that you review your insurance policy once a year to make sure you have enough coverage to rebuild based on current construction costs. We recommend you work with an independent appraiser to get a precise estimate, and make sure you talk to your agent about your building’s unique features.
You can reduce the chance of losing to wildfire
No building is fireproof, but there are steps you can take to better the chances when wildfire strikes.
- Define your defensible space—a 30-foot, non-combustible zone around your home.
- Choose fire-resistant plants and trees.
- Remove or prune low hanging tree branches.
- Cut grass and weeds regularly and keep your roof and yard clean, especially from dry yard debris.
- Stack wood piles or other burnable materials at least 30 feet from your home or other buildings on your property.
- Keep signs and addresses visible so firefighters can easily locate your property.
- Rate your roof—is it fire resistant?
- Recycle yard debris and branches instead of burning.
When a wildfire strikes, protect yourself and your family
If a wildfire starts in your area, monitor local news reports for evacuation procedures. Prepare for evacuation by turning off gas valves and pilot lights, closing all windows and doors and packing your car for quick departure, if there is time and it is safe to do so. Return to a burned area only when local authorities have instructed you to do so. We also suggest you check out Ready.gov as they have many more helpful tips and resources to help you plan and prepare during our dangerous fire weather conditions. Please enjoy your summer and our mountains and stay safe!