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 o16wildfire_600ffering 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 or stop by 111 “H” Street in Bakersfield.



8 Responses to “Is Your Home in a High-Risk Fire or Brush Area? Some Tips on How to Insure it”

  1. John Gordanier says:

    Looking for home insurance for an investment property located in Bear Valley Springs, CA: 21821 Horizon Ct, Tehachapi, 93561. Property description: site-built, single story ranch style house, 2136 square feet, composite shingle roof in good condition, wood exterior siding, large wooden deck, raised concrete foundation, LPG gas heating, city water (BVS CSD), fire hydrant on the boundary of 15 acre lot, Kern county fire department ~4 miles away, two-car garage with small hobby shop is detached from house. Home will be lived in part-time (weekends only, not primary residence). A separate California earthquake policy is desired, by please quote the policy with & without the quake coverage. Please email me at if additional information is necessary. Home phone is 661-821-2652

  2. תאורה says:

    Hello there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Looking at this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I’ll forward this information to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good read. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Paul Tucker says:

    Looking for fire insurance on my cabin in San Clemente Rancho in Carmel Valley, CA. The address is 36865 Dormody Rd, Cabin #1, Carmel, CA 93923. I own the cabin but not the land…the cabin is a 600 square foot cedar log kit home with metal roof….the area is considered a High Fire or Brush Area.

  4. Ryan says:

    Paul- Thank you for your commment. I have taken down your information and Ryan Crosby will be contacting you shortly via email. Have a great day!

  5. Localbard says:

    Our insurance doubled under Foremost Ins. and they own Farmes Ins. we have a 4,000 square foot log home now 23 years old. Basically no options for home insurance.

  6. Ryan says:

    We have a lot of people that are having issues with log homes right now. Several companies recently changed their guidelines to make all log construction homes inelgible. Many others have significantly raised rates. Please let us know if we can help provide some different options that we have.

    Ryan Crosby

  7. Tim says:

    After being with American Reliable for 10 years just received notice our policy will not be renewed because we are located in a fire zone, which they knew when we bought the policy to begin with. Our property has always passed surprise inspection by the local fire department and American Reliable has always sent someone to photograph our property which has always been cleared on time for the summer fire season. We have never filed a claim and are feeling very unappreciated by this company.
    Am thinking about getting a quote from Farmers; any other ideas?

  8. Ryan says:

    Tim, a lot of companies, such as American Reliable, are tightening their underwriting guidelines for home what they consider “brush areas”. We know it is very frustrating when you have been a good client and have been able to not have any claims to have to deal with a company cancelling you. Most companies are using their own mapping systems to qualify homes and acceptable or unacceptable. We would be glad to let you know what companies we have available. Feel free to give us a call, 661-327-5531. – Ryan

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