Wildfires pose a major threat to California. Please consider the important steps below to protect you, your family, property and neighborhood.
Thank you to CAL FIRE for providing much of the helpful information below. I hope you and your family will review the information and be “Ready—Set—Go.”
Local information also provided below.
Is your home fire-safe? Hardening your home is an important first step. There are many simple and inexpensive things you can do to lower your risk of a fire.
- Create 100 feet of defensible space around your home. Remove dry and/or dead vegetation from around your home.
- Remove piles of lumber and debris to allow better firefighter access and lessen fire damage.
- Remove dead leaves and needles from your roof and gutters.
- Review your insurance policies and take photos on your smartphone or video camera to document your belongings. Keep the video/photos outside the home.
- Create a Wildfire Action Plan that ensures all members of your family understand, especially in more rural areas.
- Put together an emergency supply kit. Include batteries, flashlights, prescriptions, water, and more.
- Have a family communication plan. All members of your family should know where to go if your family is evacuated.
- When you are asked to evacuate – don’t hesitate. Your life and the lives of first responders are put at greater risk when evacuation instructions are not followed.
Find more wildfire preparedness information go to https://www.readyforwildfire.org/.
COVID planning: Ask friends or relatives outside your area if you would be able to stay with them, should the need arise. If you do need to evacuate and plan to stay with friends or relatives, ask first if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have people in their home at higher risk for serious illness. If that is the case, make other arrangements. Check with hotels, motels and campgrounds to learn if they are open. Also get set by learning about your community's response plan for each disaster and determine if these plans have been adapted because of COVID-19.
During a wildfire, it may become difficult to get the information you need. To help prepare, here are some other links you may want to know now:
- If you do not have a land line phone and only use a cell phone, add your cell phone to the reverse 911 dial program in your county. In an emergency, you will receive evacuation notices and instructions on your cell phone.
- CAL FIRE (the state’s fire department)
- California Office of Emergency Services
- Caltrans (check local road conditions)
- California Department of Insurance
- Public Safety Power Shutoff Zip Code Alerts (pdf)
Wildfire Claims and Insurance
Much of California is prone to wildfire, but few years were more devastating than 2018. The most recent estimates of insurance losses from last year’s wildfires in California has topped $12 billion. The un-insured and under-insured residents also suffered tragic losses, and it is an issue that California must work to solve.
Compounding the problem, property owners are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain sufficient insurance to help them rebuild in case of future fires. Many are faced with non-renewal notices from their insurance carriers or increasing rates that are unaffordable.
When voters approved Proposition 103 in 1988, it required insurers to file rate changes with the California Department of Insurance, which must be based on the demonstrated risk of loss. If insurers are denied rate increases, they may have no other option than to abandon high risk areas.
The law also protects homeowners in wildfire disaster areas from non-renewals for one year, and 24 months in the case of a total loss. However, as we’ve seen with some cases in total devastation areas, rebuilding has not even begun six-months after the fire. So, there is no guarantee of protection once a homeowner or business has risen from the ashes.
For those who continue to be denied insurance, one of the last options is the State’s FAIR Plan, which has a $1.5 million maximum for residential property.
We must find creative solutions to these insurance problems so Californians can continue to live in and enjoy the nature our state provides.
If you or someone you know needs assistance with wildfire claims or insurance non-renewal problems, please contact one of my District Offices below.
Granite Bay 916-464-4201
Grass Valley 530-271-0122