Over the past five years, California has witnessed the devastating impact of wildfires, with approximately 10 million acres of forest burned and 39,000 destroyed. In 2022 alone, Cal Fire reports 7,490 wildfires consumed 362,455 aces, resulting in 9 deaths and 876 structure damages. These numbers provide a glimpse into the severity of the state’s climate crisis.
Unfortunately, while it is critical for homeowners to have sufficient insurance coverage to protect their properties, in May, 2023, StateFarm -a major home insurance firm in California- announced they will stop writing policies in fire-prone areas due to “historic increases in construction costs outpacing inflation, rapidly growing catastrophe exposure, and a challenging reinsurance market.” Shortly after that, Allstate -another insurance firm- followed suit. According to a statement made by the company, “The cost to insure new home customers in California is far higher than the price they would pay for policies due to wildfires, higher costs for repairing homes and higher reinsurance premiums.” The withdrawal of two major firms leave many homeowners in vulnerable and uncertain positions.
What Are Alternatives for California Homeowners?
Amidst the current climate and insurance crisis, there exists a few alternatives for homeowners. According to Bankrate, these options include a state-mandated program called Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plan, surplus or excess line, or premier carriers. Additionally, to help reduce cost of insurance, homeowners and businesses can leverage a regulation enforced by Commissioner Lara in 2022 that mandates insurance companies offer discounts to homeowners and businesses who take proactive measures for wildfire safety and mitigation.
Best Practices for Fire Mitigation
As mentioned above, wildfire mitigation is vital for homeowners in California to not only help drive down insurance costs but also protect themselves from devastating damages. The following list suggests a few practices that residents can consider if they live in or adjacent to fire-prone areas:
- Clear vegetation: Remove dry grass, leaves, branches, and other flammable materials from your property. Maintain a clear space around your home by regularly mowing lawns, trimming trees, and clearing debris.
- Create defensible space: Create a buffer zone around your home known as a “defensible space.” This area should be free from highly flammable materials and vegetation. The size of the defensible space may vary depending on your location and local regulations.
- Use fire-resistant materials: When constructing or renovating your home, opt for fire-resistant materials. These include fire-resistant roofing materials (e.g., metal, clay, or asphalt shingles with a Class A fire rating), fire-resistant siding, and non-combustible decking.
- Maintain gutters and roofs: Regularly clean your gutters, as dry leaves and debris can ignite easily. Keep your roof in good condition, repairing any damaged or loose shingles that could allow embers to penetrate your home.
- Create an emergency plan: Develop an emergency plan for your family, including evacuation routes and a communication strategy. Keep important documents, medications, and emergency supplies in a readily accessible location.
Another Option: AI Wildfire Detection
While the list above is extremely helpful, a major part of protecting a home from wildfire is paying attention to the surroundings. In the effort of monitoring fire early, RoboticsCats offers an innovative cloud-based AI wildfire detection systems: LookOut Wildfire Detection SaaS (software-as-a-service).
Why LookOut and ReportFires?
One of the primary advantages of LookOut Wildfire detection SaaS, lies in its cost-effectiveness. Unlike many other options on the market that require new hardware installations and dedicated manpower, LookOut utilizes existing surveillance cameras, live-updated web photos, and personal smartphones. New hardware investment is optional.
Alongside LookOut, ReportFires –a crowdsourcing application that provides homeowners with real-time wildfire outbreak locations reported by other ReportFires users, enabling homeowners to take immediate action upon detecting wildfire activity. This timely information empowers homeowners to contact emergency services, implement measures to safeguard their property, and evacuate if necessary, thus mitigating the potential for costly damages.
In summary, LookOut and ReportFires together help homeowners detect fire early with lower prices and minimum hardware installation. This early wildfire detection potentially shields homeowners from damages and drives down the cost of home insurance, especially during the current crisis in California.
Please register your 30-day free LookOut Wildfire Detection SaaS trial account at https://lookout.roboticscats.com