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Does homeowners insurance cover wildfire damage?

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If you’re becoming increasingly concerned about the number of wildfires the U.S. experiences each year, you may be wondering if your homeowners insurance covers wildfire damage should one occur in your area. Having this knowledge can make a huge difference in the stress you experience during a wildfire season. If you own a home, it’s important to understand what kind of coverage your homeowner’s insurance provides so that you and your family are financially prepared should your home become damaged or destroyed from an unfortunate event, such as a wildfire.

How does homeowners insurance cover wildfire damage?

Homeowners insurance policies usually cover damage caused by fires, including wildfires. Regardless of the type of homeowners policy you have, whether it is a standard HO-3 policy or a more comprehensive HO-5 policy, for example, damage caused by fire is typically covered.

Dwelling coverage and detached structures

Your home and detached structures on your property, such as a fence or detached garage, are usually covered for wildfire damage under your homeowners insurance policy. Your home is covered under Coverage A, dwelling coverage, while detached structures are covered under Coverage B, other structures coverage. Both of these coverage types have policy limits associated with them, so it’s important to review your insurance policy with a licensed insurance agent or homeowners insurance company to confirm your home is sufficiently covered.

Personal property

If your personal property, such as clothing and furniture, are damaged or destroyed due to a wildfire, it will likely be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Personal belongings are covered under Coverage C, personal property coverage, and this coverage is usually set at 50% – 75% of your dwelling coverage.

If some of your belongings are not stored within the home, such as in a storage unit, your homeowners insurance policy usually offers a small percentage of personal property coverage if these items are also damaged. However, personal items used for business purposes or high-value items, such as jewelry or fine art, may not have the needed coverage for wildfire damage under a standard homeowners insurance policy.

Additional living expenses

Homeowners insurance also helps cover additional living costs if you are temporarily displaced from your home because of a wildfire. Known as loss of use coverage, or additional living expenses coverage, this coverage type can help cover expenses like hotel costs, restaurant or grocery expenses and pet boarding fees while your home is uninhabitable up to your policy limits.

When does homeowners insurance not cover wildfire damage?

Certain areas within the U.S. where homeowners have a higher chance of wildfire damage, such as California, may find it more difficult to get this type of coverage. Homeowners insurance companies may exclude wildfire damage on a standard insurance policy or be unwilling to write coverage at all in these high fire risk areas. If that is the case where you live, a Fair Access To Insurance Requirements plan, or FAIR plan, may be needed to have coverage in a wildfire-prone area.

How to prevent home damage from wildfires

Wildfires are a common occurrence in the United States. It’s important to know what your homeowner’s insurance covers, but it’s also important to take precautions for your home’s safety.

Here are some tips for keeping your home safe from wildfires and other types of fire damage:

  1. You should make sure that your home is properly equipped with a smoke detector and an extinguisher.
  2. Perform regular maintenance on your wood-burning stove or fireplace.
  3. Install sprinklers within your home.
  4. Keep all combustible materials away from open flames, such as a stovetop or fireplace.
  5. Clear brush and debris away from your home.
  6. Keep your gutters clear of leaves and other debris.

The bottom line

When it comes to your home, you need to be prepared for a wildfire, so you can minimize the damage and get back on your feet as soon as possible. It’s not just about having a fire extinguisher or knowing how to file an insurance claim. Understanding how your homeowners insurance coverage applies, or does not apply in some cases, can help you prepare should you find that you live in a wildfire area.

Written by
Cate Deventer
Insurance Writer & Editor
Cate Deventer is a writer, editor and insurance professional with over a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent.
Edited by
Managing Editor