Wildfires and homeowner insurance
Important: Due to snowpack at historic lows, dwindling rivers and irrigation districts cut off from water, Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought (www.governor.wa.gov) for all of Washington state. The drought could produce wildfires throughout the state. To see if your home may be affected, go to the Department of Natural Resources' burn risk map (www.fortress.wa.gov) and find out if you're adequately prepared (www.dnr.wa.gov).
Rural homeowners, in particular, need to be aware of potential wildfires. Many homes are isolated and surrounded by forests and brush-covered grasslands. When it's hot and dry, these areas can be a fire threat. Also, firefighters may have a hard time getting to these homes.
Homeowner insurance should cover all fires, including wildfires, unless the policyholder intentionally sets the fire.
Make sure you have adequate insurance to cover your property and possessions.
Review your policy – Check your coverage regularly to make sure it includes adequate replacement coverage, in the event you suffer a loss.
Make sure you have enough insurance coverage.
Buy special coverage to protect specific valuables, such as jewelry, fine art, and other items that may have limited coverage under your homeowner policy.
Insurers may require your home to meet certain criteria - Insurers base homeowner coverage and rates on certain assumptions that include:
- Fire protection available to your home, such as fire hydrants and the location of the fire department nearest to you.
- Whether your home has electricity and running water, etc.
Protect your rural home and limit your home's fire exposure by:
- Clearing a natural firebreak between your home and outbuildings, trees, bushes and uncut fields.
- Installing a water pump or having access to a nearby water source.
- Using fire-resistant roofing or building materials.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.ready.gov) has more information on how to protect yourself and your home from wildfires.