The following information is from Colorado Project Wildfire
Wildfires continue to be a growing threat in the Rocky Mountain Region where population is booming in high-risk wildland-urban interface (WUI) areas. While many people move to Colorado for its forests, mountains and breathtaking views, they don’t always see the potential risk of losing their homes to wildfire–even in suburban neighborhoods. It’s critical that homeowners understand the risks of living in wildfire-prone areas, the potential insurance impacts, and what steps they should take to protect themselves, their property and personal finances.
- Develop your fire evacuation plan and practice family fire drills. Ensure that all family members are aware of two or more escape routes from the neighborhood, meeting points and other emergency details.
- Contact your county sheriff’s office and ensure that your home telephone number and other important phone numbers appear in the county’s emergency notification database.
- Prepare a “grab and go” disaster supply kit that will last at least three days containing your family’s and pet’s necessary items; including cash, water, clothing, food, first aid and prescription medicines.
- Ensure that an outdoor water supply is available. If safe to do so, make a hose and nozzle available for responding firefighters. The hose should be long enough to reach all parts of the house.
- Complete a checklist of fire safety needs inside your home (these should be available at your local fire department). Examples include having an evacuation plan and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers.
Defensible Space Zones
Defensible space is the area around a home or other structure that has been modified to reduce fire hazard. In this area, natural and manmade fuels are treated, cleared or reduced to slow the spread of wildfire. Creating defensible space also works in the reverse, and reduces the chance of a structure fire spreading to neighboring homes or the surrounding forest. Defensible space gives your home a fighting chance against an approaching wildfire. Creating an effective defensible space involves a series of management zones in which different treatment techniques are used.
Creating Defensible Space
Each home and property is located in a dynamic environment that is continually changing. Trees, grasses and shrubs grow, die or are damaged, and drop their leaves and needles each season. Just like your home, the defensible space around it requires regular, ongoing maintenance to be effective. Download these Defensible Space Checklists to help you protect your home and property, as well as neighbors in your community.
Wildfires and Insurance
Homeowners insurance typically covers property losses caused by wildfire and coverage continues to be available in most wildfire prone areas.* However, with increasing risk for devastating wildfires, residents should be aware of some important factors. Many insurance companies require customers to share the wildfire risk by taking precautions to protect their property, requiring on-site inspections and notifying policyholders of necessary mitigation that will reduce risk to their home and keep it insurable.
Examples of additional insurance considerations:
- The type of construction, materials, and features on your home, including the roofing, windows and siding as well as slope and emergency vehicle access.
- Distance to a fire hydrant and a fire station, whether your neighborhood is protected by full-time and/or part-time firefighters, and any factors that affect the time it would take to extinguish a fire in your area. *Ask your local fire department about your area’s ISO Wildfire Protection Classification Rating for potential
safety and insurance impacts.
- Insurers consider many individual and geographical risk factors beyond wildfire that affect premiums and insurability, such as hail proneness and unique construction.
- Do annual policy “checkups” with your insurance professional to keep up with local building costs, home remodeling and inventories of personal belongings.
- Consider replacement cost coverage that provides additional protection and update policy limits to rebuild or repair your home for what it would cost in the
current building market.
- Accurate inventories of personal possessions make for faster and smoother claims’ settlements. Photos and videos offer easy ways to document your possessions. Most insurers and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC.org) offer free home inventory apps.
Contact 360 Insurance or your local 360 agent to find out what prevention steps may be required to help reduce your wildfire risk. State & local fire officials can also help with tips and resources to assist you in mitigating your property. For general insurance information and wildfire property & financial preparedness contact the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association at rmiia.org or the Colorado Division of Insurance at dora.colorado.gov/insurance.
*Individual risk factors affect insurance premiums & availability, so cost and ability will vary based on company policies.
Wildfire Mitigation Resources
Additional resources for homeowners can be found through these organizations:
- Firewise USA®
- The Colorado State Forest Service
- Ready, Set, Go!
- The Fire Adapted Communities Coalition
- Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS)