According to Insurance Journal, 2012’s Colorado wildfires totaled around $450 million in insured losses. A substantial insurance loss of this magnitude will have repercussions for insurance consumers in the coming year as insurance companies adjust their rates. However, even more concerning than the increase in cost for home insurance is the outlook for wildfires in 2013. With current weather patterns, experts are predicting another severe wildfire season. Being prepared with more than just insurance can help protect you, your family, and your home.
Insurance News Net reports that 2013 will likely be another high-risk year for wildfires. Many factors contribute to the fire risk and among those, the drought conditions of 2012 are significant as they lead to more dry vegetation that serves as fuel for growing fires. Knowing that the possibility of wildfires will remain at a high level in the coming year should lead you to take the necessary precautions. There are three different aspects that you should consider in your preparations. First, consider what you can do to prevent a fire from damaging your property. Next, what can you do to prepare in the event a fire has taken hold and you must leave your home? Lastly, what insurance is necessary to help you recover from a fire loss?
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety provides some guidelines for preventing damage to your home from a wildfire. One of the key points they illustrate is the idea of a defensible space around your home. Proximity to other structures or vegetation will greatly increase your risk while a separation will reduce your risk. Fire needs fuel to burn and the closer buildings are to each other, the more likely that the fire will continue to spread. However, if you are able to create a space around your entire property, you have removed some of the fire’s ability to easily move from structure to structure. Another key area of weakness or strength is your home’s roof. Flying embers are a common way fires spread and your roof’s ability to resist fire can mean the difference between some minor damage and total destruction.
If your home is threatened by a fire, you may be required by the local authorities to evacuate. In such a situation, it’s best to be prepared to leave on short notice and only take what is absolutely necessary. Of course, many of the absolutely necessary items such as documents (including your insurance policy), can be stored offsite in advance so that you don’t have to waste precious time and space gathering them. Once you are required to evacuate, there is a very real possibility that you will not be able to return for an extended period of time and, even when you return, it’s possible that your home will be destroyed. As a result, you will want to take what’s most important and necessary in the brief time you have after being issued an evacuation notice. Important documents can now be stored digitally such that they are in a hard drive that is easily portable. You can even store things in the cloud and not worry about looking for them when evacuating.
Once you have returned to a destroyed house, your first thought is likely how to recover from your insurance. Therefore, it’s important to have the proper insurance in place before you do anything else. Your home insurance needs to always be current and up to the proper limit required to repair or rebuild your home to the condition it was in prior to any damage. Additionally, you need to have coverage for additional living expenses while repairs are ongoing. Lastly, to recover your personal property, you will need to have prepared a comprehensive home inventory that can be used to substantiate your claim.