With Wildfires on the Rise, Is This the One Insurance You Need?

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  • As of August 14, there have been 56 large wildfires in the U.S. this year.
  • Fire insurance covers property damages and other losses suffered from a fire.
  • Homeowners insurance often includes fire insurance, but you may need additional coverage if you live in an area at high risk for wildfires.

Your current homeowners policy may not provide enough protection.

If it seems like you're seeing more stories on the news about wildfires, there's a reason for that. Wildfires are on the rise in 2022. As of August 14, there have been 56 large wildfires in the U.S. this year, burning over 1.4 million acres. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, current numbers are higher than the 10-year national average. The total number of fires in the U.S. in 2022 sits at 42,104, burning over 5.9 million acres.

Homeowners and renters insurance policies often include fire damage coverage. But does the standard insurance policy cover damage from wildfires? The answer may depend on where you live and the local threat of wildfires. Understanding fire insurance and what it covers will help determine if you need additional coverage to protect your home.

What is fire insurance?

Fire insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for damages to your home and other property due to a fire. Standard homeowners insurance policies include fire insurance. In some cases, though, you may want or need to purchase additional standalone fire insurance coverage, especially if you live in a high-risk area or your policy excludes protection from wildfires.

What does fire insurance cover?

Fire insurance policies can vary, but they typically cover any costs associated with a fire on your property, including damage to your home and personal property within your home. Policies often cover living costs, like meals and lodging, if you have to vacate your home while it's being repaired. Depending on your policy, fire insurance may extend to detached structures on your property, like a shed or detached garage.

Fire insurance doesn't cover everything. It doesn't cover damages due to fire if property is vacant for more than 30 days or is subject to arson. Other restrictions may apply depending on the policy.

How does it work with homeowners or renters insurance?

A standard homeowners policy often includes coverage for damages and losses that occur due to a fire. You need to understand that it may not cover everything, especially if you live somewhere with higher risks of wildfires. It also doesn't cover damages to motor vehicles from a fire, which would fall under your auto insurance policy. Review your policy to determine if there are any exclusions.

If you rent, your landlord's insurance should cover damages to the property. However, it typically does not extend to a tenant's personal property. To cover your possessions from fire damage, you need a separate renters insurance policy.

Do you need fire insurance?

A home is often your most expensive and most important investment. Having the proper insurance coverage isn't just a good idea, but often a necessity, especially if you live in a high-risk area.

Risk assessment company Verisk analyzed housing in the Western U.S. and identified over 4.7 million homes they would categorize as being at a high or extreme risk for wildfire damage. As you might guess, states like California, Texas, and Colorado ranked high with the most at-risk homes. These states are known for frequent wildfires. If you live in a high-risk state, you may want to consider purchasing an additional fire insurance policy for your home.

It's important to make sure your home is covered against fire damage, whether the coverage is part of your homeowners policy or a separate fire insurance policy. You can also protect your home from fires through appropriate safety measures like installing smoke detectors, purchasing a fire extinguisher, and maintaining at least a 30-yard perimeter around your home free from plants that aren't fire-resistant.

Our picks for best homeowners insurance companies

There are many homeowners insurance companies to choose from. We’ve researched dozens of options and short-listed our favorites here. Looking for a green build discount or easy bundle policies? Want an easy-to-use interface? Read our free expert review and get a quote today.

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