Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wildfires and homeowners insurance: Five things you need to know

As wildfire season approaches, here are five important things to know about fire danger and your homeowners insurance:

1) Homeowners insurance generally covers all fires, including wildfires, unless the policyholder intentionally set the fire. Outbuildings and unattached structures are also generally covered.

2) If possible, review your policy to make sure you have enough coverage. Things like fine art and jewelry may have limited coverage under a standard policy. But you can buy special coverage that gives you more protection. Here's information to help determine how much

3) Prepare a household inventory, which will help a lot if you have to file a claim. You can do it with these easy-to-use paper forms, or you can try free iPhone/iPad or Android apps that do the same thing.

4) You can help protect a rural home and limit the danger by clearing a natural firebreak between your home and surrounding trees, brush and uncut fields. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has much more information on how to protect yourself and your home, before, during and even after a wildfire.

5) Have an emergency kit and a family communication plan. Know where your valuable papers (including insurance policy and contact info), mementos and anything you can't live without are, so that you can evacuate with them if needed. Here's a list of recommended emergency supplies. And if you're advised to evacuate, do so immediately. Don't be the person in the photo above.