Published: November 2015
Each year, thousands of homes in woodland areas are damaged or destroyed in wildfires that burn millions of acres across the United States, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
Wildfires usually ignite in hot, dry weather and, most often, during droughts. If you live in the foothills, grasslands or mountains, your home or community may be at risk. While some wildfires, such as the ones that begin with a lightning strike, cannot be prevented, 90 percent of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans, according to the National Park Service.
If your home is at risk, you'll want to make sure you have safeguards in place. Homeowners insurance may help protect your home and belongings in the event that they are damaged by wildfire.
Typically, the answer is yes. Standard homeowners policies generally help protect against specific perils, or certain causes of loss, such as theft and fire, but coverage may vary by geographic location and by policy. You may also find that some insurers do not sell homeowners policies in areas where wildfires are common.
You'll likely find that homeowners insurance offers several different types of protection if your home is damaged by wildfire.
Dwelling: This type of protection helps cover your home and attached structures, such as a garage or deck. If your home is damaged by fire (or another covered peril), dwelling coverage may help pay for repairs or rebuilding — up to the limits of your policy.
Personal property: Belongings — things like furniture, clothing and electronics — are usually covered in a standard homeowners policy. Keep in mind that limits will apply, so you may want to review your policy and determine whether your personal property coverage limits are sufficient. Your local agent can help you make any changes or answer your questions.
Additional living expenses: Homeowners insurance may help cover the cost of reasonable increased living expenses, such as renting a home while your home is being repaired, if a fire leaves it uninhabitable. Check your policy or contact your agent to learn about any terms and coverage limits.
Landscaping: Homeowners insurance may offer limited coverage for plants, shrubs, trees or lawns damaged by a covered peril, such as fire, according to the American Institute of CPAs. Check your policy to learn what kind of protection it may offer for landscaping on your land.
Creating a home inventory may be a good way to keep track of your belongings and their values. Having a record of what you own, along with photos and receipts, may be helpful in the event that you experience a loss.
Having to pick up the pieces after your home and belongings have been damaged or destroyed can be rough. Knowing what your homeowners insurance covers — and what may not be covered — and taking some proactive measures may help you be better prepared, just in case.