In California alone, there are more than 2 million homes at high or extreme risk of wildfires, the highest amount in the U.S. While California is notorious for wildfires, especially in recent years, there are many other areas in the United States also at high risk for wildfires.
The 2018 fires in California resulted in more than $13 billion in insured losses. Safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to wildfires, but it's also critical to ensure you're properly covered in the event your home and belongings are damaged by a wildfire.
Below is a table showing the states with the most homes at risk of being damaged by a wildfire, based on data from the Insurance Information Institute. In the top 10 states combined, there's more than 4 million homes at risk.
|Rank||State||Estimated number of properties at risk|
- In 2018, there were 58,083 wildfires in the United States. The fires in 2018 resulted in a total of 8,767,492 being burned.
- The November 2018 wildfires in California (the Camp Fire in Paradise and Butte County and the Woolsey and Hill Fires in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties) resulted in more than $11 billion in insured losses.
- Wildfires generally occur in forested areas or grasslands, and homeowners who live in the mountains or foothills are particularly at risk.
- Drought conditions and high temperatures contribute significantly to increased risk of wildfires.
- Although some wildfires are caused by nature, such as lightning strikes, the National Park Service estimates that 90 percent of the wildfires in the United States are caused by humans.
Will my homeowners insurance policy cover a loss due to a wildfire?
Generally, the answer is yes, but check your homeowners insurance policy. Some insurers might not include wildfires as a “covered peril” in areas that are prone to repeated wildfires. If you live in a state where wildfires are more common, your homeowners premium will most likely reflect that increased risk.
If you do experience a loss due to a wildfire, your homeowners insurance policy will most likely cover the cost of repairing your damaged home or rebuilding it, up to the limits outlined in your policy. It will also likely cover the cost of your belongings inside your house.
If you live in an area or state that is at a higher risk for wildfires, it’s important to make sure that your home inventory is kept up to date, and is stored in a safe location — consider keeping a copy in a secure digital location “in the cloud” so that even if your computer or laptop are damaged, you’ll still be able to access a copy. A safe deposit box or a fire-resistant safe are two options for physical copies.
Your homeowners insurance policy might also help pay for temporary housing or living expenses if you need to live elsewhere while your home is being repaired or rebuilt. Check your policy or talk to your agent to learn about any possible coverage limits and exclusions.
Losing a home to a wildfire can be a frightening and emotional experience. Knowing what your homeowners insurance policy covers and being prepared with a home inventory can help with your peace of mind, particularly if you live in an area that is at a higher risk.
If you haven't shopped for homeowners insurance recently or are looking for a new company, see which insurers other homeowners have had the best experieces with by checking out the top-ranked homeowners insurance companies.
The content on this site is offered only as a public service to the web community and does not constitute solicitation or provision of legal advice. This site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an insurance company or an attorney licensed or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. You should always consult a suitably qualified attorney regarding any specific legal problem or matter. The comments and opinions expressed on this site are of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the insurance company or any individual attorney.