QBE and Westwood Insurance Agency Outline Wildfire Safety Strategies to Protect Property and Mitigate Losses
Wildfire season is increasing in intensity and duration in North America each year, with more than 792,000 estimated acres burned throughout the country as of June. As we reach the peak of the season this summer, QBE and Westwood Insurance Agency are with those who have experienced hardship and are sharing ways to help prepare and protect property before or during a loss event.
When it comes to insurance, most homeowner policies cover damage from fire. However, it's the details within the coverages that can make a big difference.
"If your home has been damaged by a wildfire, it can be emotionally devastating. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you are covered can be a true comfort during a difficult time, so it's important to plan ahead to avoid surprises," said Alan Umaly, President, Westwood Insurance Agency. "When shopping for insurance, you need to take a look at your coverage limits. You'll want to factor in any home updates, additions or new outside structures that should be added to the policy. Your insurance coverage should keep up with what would be the current cost to rebuild everything on your property."
Consider Your Coverage
Westwood Insurance Agency suggests several things to consider when it comes to making sure your property is adequately insured:
- Your home should be covered for its estimated replacement cost. This is generally determined by the average cost contractors in your area would charge to rebuild your specific home.
- With the current boom in the construction market, your property's replacement cost has likely increased. At a minimum, review your estimated replacement cost annually with your agent.
- Avoid trying to save money by insuring your home for less than replacement cost — your agent can help you find better ways to save.
Take an inventory of your personal items. Typically, a percentage of your dwelling amount is used to set your personal property coverage, and you'll want to pay attention to limitations on items such as jewelry, furs and guns. Your agent can walk you through specialized policies based on your specific needs.
Protecting Your Property and Family
If a wildfire does strike, evacuate immediately if advised to do so. Take a disaster kit and your insurance contact information with you, close home windows and vents, lock your home, and choose an evacuation route away from the path of the fire. Be sure to tell someone when you left and where you are headed. For more information on what to do if a fire threatens your area, visit QBE's Risk Solutions Center.
"We're in the midst of wildfire season, and if a fire strikes your area it's scary and leaves little time to think," said Mark McCormick, Vice President, Risk Solutions at QBE.
"There are still steps you can take to protect property, and having a plan in place for what to do and where to go if you must evacuate can make all the difference."
- Remove all debris (leaves, pine needles, etc.) from roofs, decks, fence lines, and patios.
- Cull trees to keep at least a 10-foot separation from the building, maintain tree branches and shrubs 5 feet from the building and trim branches to a height of 6 feet above the ground.
- Be sure to trim trees and plants of dead branches, mow lawns regularly and rake leaves, needles, and other plant debris.
- Remove mulch and combustible ground cover within 5 feet of a building.
- Use ember resistant vents on roofs, eaves, and foundation vents. This will help prevent ember penetration into attics and crawlspaces.
- Remove outside furniture and highly flammable plants/trees, such as eucalyptus.
- Move grills with propane tanks away from the home.
- Have an emergency kit prepared with things such as medications, flashlights, pet food, blankets, contact numbers and insurance documents.
QBE Risk Solutions offers a variety of tools and tips to help QBE customers plan for disasters. QBE Claims maintains an online Catastrophe Center with instructions on how to quickly and easily report claims to help expedite a response, as well as links to preparation and safety materials for a variety of natural disasters.