Wildfire Home Hardening Efforts to be Reflected in Insurance Costs

Homeowners in California and throughout the West live with fire danger every day, especially if they live in the Wildland Urban Interface (WUI), urban areas encroaching on wild spaces that are riskier for wildfire devastation. Many of these homeowners take it upon themselves to make updates on their homes to make them safer in the line of fire. 

Called home hardening, these updates include adding fire-safe vents, gutter guards, installing roof sprinklers, and spraying long-term fire retardant around their properties. These actions have been proven to help a home stay standing in the event of a fire but they are often at the homeowner’s expense. 

What’s more frustrating is that a homeowner can invest thousands of dollars into their home to prepare it for wildfire but the rest of the homes in their neighborhood do not have the same updates which leaves the hardened home more vulnerable. Community fire spread is a dangerous reality but it can be hard to convince some homeowners to make the updates due to the initial costs.

California Department of Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is trying to change that. 

Safer from Wildfires

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara and emergency management leaders in Governor Gavin Newsom’s Administration announced in February that homeowners can expect a discount from insurance companies if they take the necessary steps to reduce wildfire risk. 

While California already has wildfire building standards in place, they are typically for new construction. This program brings together California fire officials and the California Insurance Department in a new and advantageous partnership and “provides a list of achievable, effective actions that will help reduce risk for property owners, including community-wide safety recommendations to prevent the spread of wildfire to other properties.”

The program provides a framework to retrofit the updates on older homes in order for them to be covered by insurance companies, many of which have seen non-renewals in recent years.   

Here’s how it works: 

Safer from Wildfires

A full list of mitigation measures can be found here and a list of participating insurance agencies can be found here

The “Safer from Wildfires” program now must be used to evaluate homes for insurance. In another announcement, Lara is requiring insurance companies “to factor consumers’ and businesses’ wildfire safety actions into their pricing of residential and commercial coverage.”

“With more Californians rolling up their sleeves and reaching into their own pockets to protect their homes and businesses, insurance pricing must reflect their efforts,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “Holding insurance companies accountable for accurately rating wildfire risk in the premiums they charge Californians will help save lives and reduce losses. My new regulations will help encourage a competitive insurance market for all by putting safety first and driving down costs for consumers.”

Ember Defense

So what does all of this mean for you as a homeowner? It means that starting as early as this summer, you can benefit financially from wildfire updates on your home. In fact, your whole neighborhood can enjoy discounts from insurance agencies by hardening your homes. 

Not only is a hardened community a safer community that minimizes the risk of wildfire spreading from home to home, but everyone can save a little money on their insurance premiums as well. 

Ember Defense specializes in home hardening updates like retrofitting fire-safe vents, adding gutter guards, and installing wildfire sprinklers. We also spray long-term fire retardant (LTR) around properties to render the vegetation, decks, and fences non-flammable. The LTR services can be done at the start of fire season or when a fire is burning nearby (Rapid Response).  

Reach out to request a home evaluation today and see how we can make your home safer.

(415) 573-2400