How to find affordable homeowners insurance in a high-risk fire zone – Bankrate.com

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The month of May is National Wildfire Awareness Month — and it’s also the start of wildfire season — which serves as a reminder that finding adequate home insurance may need to be a priority for homeowners who live in many areas of the U.S. at risk for wildfires. Nearly 4.5 million homes are at risk of wildfire damage throughout the nation, with droughts and other environmental issues causing the likelihood of fire damage to increase significantly year by year.
According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 50,477 fires affected 4,664,364 acres in 2019, and that number increased to 58,950 fires affecting 10,122,336 acres in 2020. Although this number decreased slightly in 2021, there were still 58,985 fires affecting 7,100,000 acres in that year. Homeowners insurance can be expensive in these areas due to the wildfire risk, while some carriers may choose to nonrenew or deny coverage completely to new customers in high-risk zones. Still, there are ways to find homeowners insurance coverage if you live in an area with a higher risk for wildfires. You just need to know where to look and how to shop around with different carriers.

When determining home insurance rates, most insurance companies will review the location of the home and the features of the surrounding area. Neighborhoods that are close to wildfire zones are more at risk of damage or total loss, which would, in turn, require insurance companies to pay out huge sums to cover the losses should this type of natural disaster occur.
The more likely it is that a covered disaster will happen, the higher the rate will likely be for a home insurance policy. This is particularly concerning due to the fact that the wildfire risk continues to spread to new areas of the country, which in turn is causing areas that were once unaffected by wildfires to be at a high-risk for this type of natural disaster.

The higher chance of losses in fire-prone areas can make it more difficult for homeowners to secure property insurance coverage. Insurance companies may be concerned about whether it’s possible to manage the risk and pay for losses in these areas, as insured wildfire losses topped $13 billion in three of the last four years, according to S&P Global. For example, Farmers Insurance paid out almost $2.1 billion for wildfire-related losses in 2018.
Because of this high volume of losses, many insurance companies are implementing stricter policies on where homeowners insurance is offered. Some companies may deny coverage to certain ZIP codes entirely, or may opt to cancel or non-renew policies on homes located in high-risk areas in order to manage their own risk and financial solvency.

Insuring yourself against wildfires can be done with a standard homeowners insurance policy, but taking some of these mitigation steps could further reduce your risk, especially if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Tips for reducing the risk to a home in a fire-prone area include:

While it can be more difficult to find homeowners insurance if you live in a high-risk fire zone, it is not impossible. If you’re struggling to find affordable homeowners insurance in a high-risk fire area, or are having trouble finding insurance entirely, these tips may help:


Fire is one of the covered perils in a standard homeowners insurance policy, and this includes wildland fires. This means that you don’t need a separate wildfire insurance for your home, as it will already be covered. However, not all insurers will issue home insurance policies to homeowners in high-risk or fire-prone areas, so you may have to take extra steps to secure a policy if you live in these locations.

If you need to obtain a homeowners insurance policy, it can be helpful to start by getting a quote. Many companies allow you to start or complete the quote process online, but you can also call a local agent to get started on a personalized quote for your property. If you live in a wildfire-prone area, a local agent may be the ideal place to start, as they may be more familiar with your area and can provide unique solutions that can meet your coverage and financial needs.

Homeowners insurance companies are required to send out non-renewal notices before your policy term ends and explain why they are not renewing your coverage. The actual timeframe in which this notice is required may differ depending on your state regulations. Also, depending on the reason for the non-renewal, you may be able resolve any concerns the insurer has in order to continue your coverage. If not, you can use the time between receiving the non-renewal notice and the termination date of your current policy to shop around for new home insurance coverage.

Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. Bankrate is compensated in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. This compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear. Bankrate.com does not include all companies or all available products.
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