Kevin Says Insurance Insider Blog

Wildfire Zone? See How Close You are to One

See How Close You are to a Wildfire Zone
Bay Area Fire Hazard Severity Zones

Wildfire zone risk has become a huge concern for all of us, whether we are homeowners, Association members, or Insurance companies. For safety and insurance reasons It’s important to know your proximity to the higher risk wildfire zones.

This post answers 3 key questions:

  1. How can you see and understand your wildfire risk level?
  2. What are the top tips on creating defensible space? 
  3. What does the future hold for Single Family Owners and Association Homeowners in Wildfire Areas?

1. Understand Your Wildfire Risk Level – See Your Proximity to Wildfire Zones

One way is to look at your proximity to a wildfire zone in publicly available data. The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Fire and Resource Assessment Program (FRAP) assesses the amount and extent of California’s forests and rangelands, analyzes their conditions and identifies alternative management and policy guidelines.  Click on the Fire Hazard Severity Zones map. The viewer will display the California Fire Zone Hazard Map in a new browser tab. You can zoom and pan to any location you are interested in. Or if you click on the ‘binoculars’ icon, you can enter your full address (e.g., 455 10th St. Davis, CA 95121) to see if you are in or near a fire hazard severity area. As you might expect they are working on new fire hazard zone maps and a new version is expected in the Fall.

Instructions to Use the Map

  1. Click on the above Link for Fire Hazard Severity Zones
  2. Click on the tiny Binocular Icon on the upper left side of page
  3. Enter your property address into the small box on the upper right side of page
  4. Enter your full address, city, state, and zip code
  5. Red means Very High Risk.  Brown means High Risk.  Yellow means Moderate Risk. Areas outside these wildfire zones aren’t colored.

2. What Are the Top Tips on Creating Defensible Space? 

Living with Wildfire
Living with Wildfire

One of the best guides we’ve seen is this one, available for download here.

3.  What Does the Future Hold for Single Family Owners and Association Homeowners in or near a Wildfire Zone?

Will insurance rates get worse, better, or stay the same? As well as the maps above, insurance companies procure regularly updated fire risk maps from specialist suppliers. Those aren’t publicly available. Different insurance companies evaluate their individual risks. Competition between insurance companies helps ensure the wildfire risk is priced appropriately. Sometimes, a non-renewal by one company can be acceptable to another company! For example, I have found Travelers says one area is high wildfire risk, and Farmers says it is moderate wildfire risk. The continuing drought has increased wildfire risks, but, on the other hand, the systems that have caused wildfires are being hardened and vegetation better managed.

Call me if you’d like to discuss your wildfire risk level and coverage. Also see this blog post: Home Reconstruction Cost: How Much Coverage Do You Need?