Do you need Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone Insurance?
From San Diego to Siskiyou, CAL FIRE has identified very high fire hazard severity zones (VHFHSZ): areas at extreme risk for wildfire.
- Every county in the entire Golden state has - at the bare minimum - moderate fire hazard severity zones.
- Many CA counties consist almost entirely of high or very-high fire hazard severity zone areas.
In other words, if you live in California, there’s a good chance that you could need VHFHSZ insurance.
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California Wildfire Risks
Wildfires are a risk that come along with California living.
While wildfires have always been present in California, these disasters have been becoming more frequent, destructive, and deadly in recent years.
In 2017, 9.6 million California acres were destroyed by wildfires; in 2018, wildfires consumed 8.6 million acres.
Two 2018 wildfires, the Carr Fire and the Mendocino Complex Fire, resulted in the loss of 8,900 homes, 329 businesses, and 800 autos. The Mendocino Complex Fire turned out to be the largest in state history, burning 459,123 acres.
Yet another 2018 wildfire, the Camp Fire, earned the horrible distinction of being the deadliest on record - 88 people perished.
Not Just a California Problem
According to Verisk’s 2017 Wildfire Risk Analysis, 2 million Californians are at high or extreme risk for wildfire. But California isn’t the only state facing wildfire danger.
The top 10 most wildfire prone states (by number of households at risk) are:
While California may have the highest number of households at risk, Montana has the highest percentage of household at risk: a whooping 28% of Montana households are at risk for wildfire, compared to only 15% of California households. However you calculate the risks, by number of households or percentage, residents of these 10 states all have to worry about wildfires.
Insuring Very High Fire Hazard Homes
Living in a VHFHSV area brings unique challenges to homeowners.
The largest challenge is often obtaining and keeping affordable insurance.
Unlike car insurance, there’s no law stating that you need to carry homeowners insurance. However, it is common practice for lenders to require proof of homeowners insurance if you want to obtain a home loan.
Even if you aren’t required to carry homeowners insurance to obtain funding for a new home purchase or refinance, insuring your California home is simply a good idea.
- Homeowner’s insurance can help you repair, rebuild, or replace a damaged or destroyed home structure.
- Homeowner’s insurance can protect your personal property: furnishings, clothing, electronics, collectibles, and sporting goods.
- Fire damage is typically included on a standard homeowner’s insurance policy.
Because of the extreme losses that many insurance carriers have had to absorb due to wildfire damage in recent years, more and more Californian homeowners are struggling to keep their insurance.
- Many insurers are refusing to write new policies in high-risk fire areas in California.
- Others are steeply increasing premium amounts for new and existing customers.
- And some have gone out of business entirely due to insurmountable wildfire losses.
How do you insure your high-risk home - without overpaying for insurance?
It’s simple: seek out the specialists.
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High-Risk Fire Insurance Specialists
Typically, independent insurance brokers specialize in a few different types of insurance products.
And – for some – that includes high-risk fire insurance.
Independent insurance brokers typically represent a number of insurance carriers. They’re not required to place your business through one particular carrier; they have the freedom (independence) to “shop” your policy around until they find you the best quality insurance at the best premium rates.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), there were 5,977 insurance companies in 2016 in the United States. Even if a portion of those insurance companies went out of business because of fire losses in the last few years, it is very safe to say that there are thousands of different companies offering insurance products.
Naturally, not all independent insurance brokers have relationships with every insurance carrier in the US.
Instead, independent brokers typically have a group of insurance carriers that they prefer to work with: companies that have been reliable, are in good financial standing, and that offer good premium rates and service for their customers.
These preferred carrier relationships is one of the reasons independent brokers begin to specialize in certain niche insurance products. Just like some brokers specialize in contractor insurance, life insurance, or health insurance, others specialize in high-risk fire insurance.
Truckee-based Aegis Insurance Markets is one of these independent insurance brokers with a high-risk fire niche.
Because Aegis is located in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas in a city designated as VHFHSZ, specializing in high-risk fire insurance comes with the territory.
For nearly two decades, Aegis Insurance Markets has been insuring VHFHSZ homes. Over that time, Aegis’ insurance agents have developed relationships with carriers who don’t shy away from high-risk properties, who have the financial solvency to survive a devastating fire season, and who’re able to keep premium payments reasonable for homeowners.
Because of their experience with high-risk homes in wildfire prone areas of California, Aegis’ agents also know how to respond when a fire does strike.
When catastrophic fires break out, Aegis proactively reaches out to affected clients.
“When it was clear there was major losses as a result of the Camp Fire, as we have done with other massive catastrophic losses like this, we proactively reached out to the clients we had in the area (identified by zip code mainly) to check in and see if they were ok and what help we could provide.” - John Bills, Aegis Insurance Markets
If you need very high hazard severity zone insurance (otherwise known as high-risk fire insurance), don’t waste precious time going to insurance brokers who don’t specialize in it. Instead, contact an independent insurance broker who has experience insuring high-risk homes. Your home deserves protection, no matter what your fire severity rating is. Let Aegis get you covered.