Protecting Your Home and Family from Wildfires: Expert Advice and Insurance Tips

This wildfire season has destroyed many homes and businesses, leaving homeowners in disarray.

Wildfires are a growing threat to homeowners across Canada. Due to the effects of climate change, the likelihood of wildfires is progressively escalating as extreme weather conditions become more frequent. As a homeowner, it’s essential to take steps to protect your home and family from the devastating effects of a wildfire. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with expert advice on how to safeguard your home and property from wildfires. So, let’s get started and learn how to safeguard your home from wildfires!

What are the causes behind a wildfire spread?

It is important to note that preventing wildfires is a shared responsibility. By being aware of the causes and taking preventative measures, we can work together to reduce the risk and impact of wildfires. There are several causes behind the spread of wildfires. These include:

  • Lightning: Lightning strikes can ignite dry vegetation and start a wildfire. This is a natural cause of wildfires and is beyond human control.
  • Climate conditions: Hot, dry, and windy weather conditions increase the risk of wildfires. Drought conditions also contribute to the spread of wildfires.
  • Topography: The terrain of an area can affect the spread of wildfires. Steep slopes, canyons, and ridges can cause fires to spread more quickly and unpredictably.
  • Vegetation: The type and density of vegetation in an area can also contribute to the spread of wildfires. Dry, dead, or overgrown vegetation can fuel a fire and cause it to spread more rapidly.
  • Human activity: The majority of wildfires are caused by human activity, such as campfires, cigarettes, fireworks, and equipment usage. Negligence and carelessness are major factors in human-caused wildfires.

What do home and business insurance policies cover?

Maintaining your current insurance coverage is one of the best ways to safeguard your house against wildfires. Consistently pay your premiums on time and ensure you have enough home insurance fire coverage to rebuild or replace your house and its contents after a fire.

Homeowners at risk of Wildfire are encouraged to take proactive measures and purchase insurance before their home is threatened. Insurers typically renew home insurance policies during a wildfire threat, but substantial changes may not be possible.

As per the policy purchased by the insured, the insurance company will cover the following costs in case of damages caused by a Wildfire:

  • Cost of rebuilding the property: The cost of rebuilding the property damaged by the Wildfire will be covered by the insurance company. This cost will depend on the extent of the damage and the policy purchased by the insured.
  • Costs of the items damaged by Wildfire: The insurance company will also cover the cost of the items that have been damaged by Wildfire. This includes personal belongings, furniture, appliances, and other items that were inside the property at the time of the fire.
  • Additional living expenses if your home is totally destroyed: In case the insured’s home is totally destroyed by the Wildfire, the insurance company will cover the additional living expenses incurred by the insured. This includes the cost of temporary accommodation, food, and other necessary expenses until the insured’s home is rebuilt.

It is important to note that the coverage and extent of the insurance policy will vary depending on the policy purchased by the insured. It is recommended that the insured carefully reviews their policy and speaks to their insurance agent to understand the coverage and limitations of their policy. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with your insurance representative to address any questions or concerns about your policy. Trust in your ability to take proactive steps to protect your home and assets during a wildfire threat.

NOTE: If you want to purchase a property during an active wildfire season, including a condition on insurability in your offer is crucial. If insurance cannot be obtained, the closure may be delayed or cancelled. Additionally, if you are selling a property during this period, it is important to keep your existing coverage until after closing.

When insured and affected by a wildfire, the following steps shall be followed

  • Analyze and record the damages. Taking pictures may prove beneficial.
  • Contact your insurance provider or organization.
  • Make a list of all the damaged items.
  • If you are ordered to vacate your home, preserve all the documents and receipts of your living expenses. Also, ask your insurance representative beforehand about the expense claims you are entitled to.
  • Once the loss is reported, you will be assigned a claims adjuster.
  • The claims adjuster will look into the details of your damage, go through the supporting documentation, and walk you through the procedure. Be bold and ask questions and take notes throughout the talks.
  • Your insurance provider will require you to fill out a Proof of Loss form listing the things which have been burned or damaged, along with the associated worth or cost of the loss. It would be best if you attested in writing that the claims you make on the Proof of Loss form are accurate.

Some Important Facts to Consider for Protection Against Wildfires

Every home should have a protective perimeter that reaches a minimum distance of 30 feet and preferably 100 feet from the residence, subject to fire danger. The trees of the nearby region have to be cleaned up so that there is less possibility of a wildfire advancing to the home and other buildings. This entails keeping landscaping and buildings, such as the home, barn, and garage, away from trees and plants. Grass should also be clear of waste, like dead leaves and branches that might catch fire.
Please ensure that you have an emergency kit ready for any unforeseen situations. This kit should include an emergency battery kit, non-perishable food, a battery-powered radio, and a medical kit.
Trees, garbage, shrubs, wood mulch, barbeque pits, and grills should all be completely removed from the vicinity of a house—in other words, everything that may catch fire from flames or be heated by radiation. Consider constructing decks, fences, and other projects with fire-retardant material or wood treated with a fireproofing agent.
The majority of laws and insurance companies advise using Grade A fireproof roofing materials like shingles made of asphalt or tiles of concrete. To have better fire resistance consider using materials like gypsum board, wood studs, and other insulation materials that have passed approved testing. These material assemblies are graded according to how long they can survive the fire.
Metal instead of vinyl must be used for gutters and downspouts, which must be cleaned as well often or protected with a metallic leaf guard. If feasible, gutter installation should be avoided in favor of an underground drainage system diverting water from the wall and foundation.
Keep your home inventory prepared: If anything is destroyed, taking a record of your belongings would be helpful. (You may make sure that a video of your house and belongings is available in the case of a claim by uploading the film to the cloud.)

The Bottom Line

Protecting your home from wildfires is crucial for homeowners who live in areas prone to such disasters. Following the information provided, you can take proactive measures to safeguard your property and family from the devastating effects of wildfires. From creating a defensible space around your home to using fire-resistant materials and maintaining your landscape, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risk of wildfire damage. Remember, the key is to be well-prepared and stay informed about your area’s latest wildfire safety guidelines. We can all contribute to a safer and more resilient community by working together.

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