Is Your Home in a High-Risk Fire or Brush Area? Some Tips on How to Insure it
Many homeowners are finding that their current insurance company is not offering renewals because their home is located in a fire or brush area. New home buyers in those areas are finding that getting adequate coverage can be tough.
Companies are using more underwriting information to better access potential risks. Your home location is listed in an “ISO Public Protection Class”. This rating measures the fire departments ability to suppress a fire at your home. Ratings are listed from 1-10. A rating of 1 is listed as “superior” and a 10 would not meet ISO’s minimum rating. Companies may also use other tools to identify homes in high risk areas.
No matter how severe the fire area, there are options to get the proper coverage to meet your needs.
What an insurance company will consider…
- distant from the responding fire station (less than 5 is good, over 10 is higher risk)
- distance to fire hydrants or water storage tanks
- clearance from brush
- home construction type and roof type
- wildfire history in the area
Specific Area Concerns
Slight Fire and Brush Areas (Outer Areas of Tehachapi, Bear Valley, Hart Flat near Highway 58)
If you own a home in these areas, many companies may not be willing to write coverage for you. There are plenty of companies available including preferred companies like Travelers Insurance. Travelers offers a “tiered” program for homes in brush areas starting with “Eligible” being no brush risk to “Eligible 3″ being the highest brush risk they are willing to consider.
The benefit of a company like Travelers considering higher risk homes is that you can still qualify for a multi-policy discount and get a great value on your insurance.
Properties that are ineligible for Travelers tiered policy can still be placed with companies such as Foremost, American Reliable or American Modern.
Things that are considered are; road access, slope and elevation of the property, possible smoke drift from a large forest fire, construction type and roof type.
High Fire and Brush Risk (upper Bear Valley, unprotected areas of Tehachapi, areas of Hart Flat, Shaver Lake, Alta Sierra)
If your home is classified as being in a severe fire area and other companies are unwilling to write a policy for you, you should consider the California Fair Plan. The Fair Plan is a syndicate of all property insurers licensed to do business in California and was established in 1968. The California Fair Plan is intended to be the “insurer of last resort” for hard to place policies.
The California Fair Plan has major gaps in coverage that make it unsuitable for most needs without a “wrap-around” policy. A “wrap-around” policy helps to fill coverage gaps such as liability coverage, loss of use coverage and extended perils such as theft or burglary.
“Wrap-around” policies are offered by many major carriers and may qualify you for a multi-policy discount. A Fair Plan policy with a “Wrap-around” may offer you an economical policy to help insure your home in a high-risk area.
Need more info?
If you have specific questions about your homes wildfire or brush risk, we would be glad to talk with you. You can get an instant quote here. You can call us at 661-327-5531, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by 111 “H” Street in Bakersfield.