New Mexico wildfires highlight need for preparedness

Most of the southwestern states of the United States as well as the northern California are expected to have significant above normal fire potential in May and June, with wildfire potential increasing in Colorado and the southern parts of the Great Basin (for example, Utah and Nevada) this month and the next before returning to normal in July, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). The NIFC predicts that the risk of wildfires will increase in July and August in Oregon and Washington.

Triple-I’s four key wildfire preparedness tips include:

Review your insurance coverage. Make sure you have the right type – and the right amount – of property insurance. Triple-I recommends that you conduct an annual review of your policy(ies) with your insurance professional.

“With most of the United States experiencing double-digit increases in home replacement costs this year due to higher prices for building materials and labor, ask your insurance professional whether you have the right amount of insurance coverage to rebuild or repair your home, to replace its contents and to cover temporary living expenses if your property is uninhabitable,” Kevelighan said.

The best place to start the review process is by reading an insurance policy’s declarations page. It provides details of your coverage amount, deductibles and how a claim will be paid.

Fire and smoke damage is covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. A standard home insurance policy covers property damage caused by a wildfire to the structure of a house and its appurtenances (for example, a garage) as well as personal belongings housed on the premises. A rental insurance policy covers the personal effects of the tenant. Water damage caused by firefighters putting out a fire is covered by homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies.

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies also provide additional living expenses (ALE), sometimes referred to as loss of use, to policyholders who have moved due to a mandatory evacuation order or whose residence has been rendered uninhabitable due to forest fire damage.

Additionally, the Triple-I offers online claims filing advice for homeowners and renters insurance policyholders.

Protect your vehicles. Comprehensive auto insurance, which is optional coverage, protects your vehicle

against damage caused by an incident other than a collision, including fire, flood, theft, vandalism, hail, falling rocks or trees and other dangers. Nearly 80% of US drivers choose to purchase comprehensive coverage.

Make sure your assets are properly protected. Residents should estimate the direct cost of buying back their damaged furniture, electronics, clothing and other personal effects after a wildfire. Whether you have homeowners insurance, condominium insurance, or tenants insurance, your policy provides protection against loss or damage to personal property due to a wildfire.

Creating an inventory of your belongings and their value will make it easier for you to determine if you are sufficiently insured for the replacement cost or the actual cash value of the belongings located in your home. When you create a photo or video of your home’s possessions, it speeds up the insurance claim process if you suffer damage from a wildfire.

Make your property more resilient. Invest in items that will strengthen your property by using the Insurance Institute for Business and Safety (IBHS) ready-to-use guide to making your home wildfire resistant, such as vents, roofs and Windows. Triple-I also recommends those who live and work in wildfire-prone communities follow Firewise’s advice. UNITED STATES.

Research shows that risks can be mitigated when residents invest time in preparing their homes and landscaping to reduce damage from embers during a wildfire. Projects can range from a short-term engagement to those requiring an entire day and include:

  • Rake and remove pine needles and dry leaves within three to five feet of a home’s foundation, continue up to 30 feet around the home, and dispose of collected debris in appropriate trash cans
  • Clear roofs and gutters of dead leaves, debris and pine needles that could catch embers
  • Pick up fallen tree limbs and broken branches and bring them to a disposal site
  • Protective or recessed areas under patios and decks with wire mesh to prevent debris and combustible materials from accumulating

Additionally, Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator uses advanced data analytics to create tools that empower residents, businesses, and decision makers to build more resilient communities. It also demonstrates the power of insurance as a force for resilience by telling how insurance coverage helps communities recover faster and more completely after a natural disaster.

RELATED LINKS
FACTS AND STATISTICS
Facts and Stats: Wildfires

CONSUMER INFORMATION
A wildfire not just a problem in the western US: Triple-I Blog
In the event of a disaster: preparedness, response and recovery
Insurance for forest fires
Five steps to prepare an effective evacuation plan
Settlement of insurance claims after a loss

VIDEOS
Building for Wildfire Resilience
Create a home inventory
Wildfire Evacuation Tips
Wildfire Reality Check: Insuring Your Home

EXTERNAL RESOURCES
FEMA Disaster Assistance Frequently Asked Questions
Small Business Administration (SBA) Disaster Loan Assistance
Insurance Institute for Business and Home Security (IBHS)
Red Cross: forest fire safety
fire sage UNITED STATES: Residents reducing wildfire risk

Readyforwildire.org

The Triple-I has an extensive library of educational videos on its YouTube channel.

SOURCE Insurance Information Institute