Protecting Your Home From Wildfires
As Florida's population has continued to increase, so have developments stretching into areas that were once a part of the Everglades. Fires in these areas are natural to Florida's ecosystem and have occurred seasonally for hundreds of years. Since the 1950s, the National Park Service along with Florida Fish and Wildlife services have engaged in controlled burns throughout the state in an effort to limit the amount of wildfires in Florida affecting homes, while also encouraging the growth of native plant and wildlife species. However, controlled burns are not always effective in reducing the risk of fire, and wildfire still presents a risk to many Floridian's homes. As of March 2022, there have already been nearly 50,000 wildfires throughout the state, some destroying homes in their path. As a homeowner, there are a few steps you can take to protect your home and increase your chances of having a wildfire property insurance claim covered.
- Read your policy
Reviewing your policy each time you renew is typically a good idea. There are some policies which do not cover wildfire damage or limit their coverage. Figuring out if you need to increase policy coverages or inquire with a licensed insurance agent to ensure your property is covered under your policy if it were to be damaged by a fire.
- Prepare your property if it is in the path of a wildfire
Insurance companies will often deny claims if homeowners failed to take adequate precautions to prevent damages. In the case of wildfires, you should trim landscaping to prevent fires, close exterior vents, and perform other attempted mitigation techniques.
- Photograph the damages and account for all losses
Fires can destroy entire homes or result in severe damages. It is important to photograph all visible damages to your property and make use of a home inventory to ensure every loss is accounted for.
- Have your property inspected by a licensed professional
Insurance companies will typically insist on having an inspection of the property done by one of their agents, but it is important to remember that the insurance company is rarely working in your best interest. Hiring your own independent inspector to guarantee all damages are accounted for and properly repaired may be an important step, especially because fires can cause structural damages.
- Contact an attorney
If the insurance company has denied your claim, it may be time to contact an attorney to see how you can be further assisted.
This article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship nor constitute legal advice.