‘Wildfire Response Service’ benefit added to all homeowners policies in the three states
State Farm Now Offering Added Wildfire Protection in California, Arizona and Washington
The threat of wildfires is constant and growing in the United States. In 2020, there were approximately 57,000 wildfires, about 7,000 more than in 2019 (National Interagency Fire Center). They burned 10 million acres, more than double than in 2019. Just in California alone, 2 million homes are considered to be at high risk of wildfire (Verisk), a peril that is advancing on areas where we had not seen it, affecting thousands of State Farm® customers. However, this year there’s a difference. State Farm policyholders in California, Arizona and Washington now enjoy an additional benefit, the Wildfire Response Endorsement, which is included in their policy automatically providing an extra layer of protection at no additional cost.
How it works
Policyholders don’t have to do anything to activate this benefit because the Wildfire Response Endorsement has been added to all non-tenant homeowner and farm owner policies in these states. To provide it, State Farm has teamed up with vendor Wildfire Defense Systems Inc., an industry leader in wildfire risk mitigation services. It is estimated that in 2020, their services saved over 70 homes in Colorado and Oregon, two states where this benefit piloted last year.
During an active wildfire, if Wildfire Defense Systems Inc. detects that a home insured by State Farm is at risk, they will deploy a mitigation team that will check in with Incident Command to gain access to the incident and carry out the mission of mitigating wildfire risk at the policyholder’s property. This team will determine appropriate suppression and mitigation methods which may include:
- Installing temporary sprinkler systems
- Monitoring and extinguishing hotspots
- Removal of brush, combustible vegetation and debris
- Closing of doors and windows.
“The recent wildfire seasons have been so destructive that wildfire mitigation has clearly become an urgent priority. Our policyholders are not alone in that mission, though," said Andy Rader, Vice president of Operations - P&C Underwriting at State Farm. "This year, State Farm policyholders in three more states have an added layer of protection. Teams of professional wildfire management experts will be deployed in real time to protect properties in the path of active wildfires. We hope that this new benefit, together with our insistence in reminding residents to prepare beforehand, will help turn the tables this wildfire season,” .
Time to prepare is now
The recent wildfire statistics show us that proactive mitigation efforts prior to a fire event are critical before evacuation warnings or orders are issued by the authorities. This is why, even with the new benefit in place, State Farm reminds residents to be proactive, to adopt mitigation measures in their properties, and to always be prepared for the possibility of an emergency or catastrophe. As the weather becomes hot and dry, this is what you can do to create a defensible space around your property, easily and inexpensively:
- Remove dead shrubs, dried grass, fallen branches and dried leaves 5-100 feet around your property.
- Keep your roof and gutters clear of debris and remove overhanging branches.
- Keep grass and weeds mowed.
- Fill five feet around the base of the structure(s) with fire resistant plants or materials, such as gravel.
There’s even more that you can do to prepare on the financial side of things.
Financial action items
- Talk to your agent: review together your homeowners insurance policy and discuss your coverage needs to protect your home and its contents in case of wildfire damage.
- Understand the deductible: higher deductibles lower your premium, but increase the amount you must pay out of your own pocket if a covered loss occurs.
- Understand Market Value vs. Replacement Cost: market value is the amount a buyer would pay for a home, including the land. Replacement cost for this purpose is the rebuilding cost necessary to repair or replace the home.
- Home Inventory: an effective home inventory includes a list and a visual record. With a smartphone, take video or photos and move from room to room, listing items as you go. Keep a copy of it in a safe location away from your property.
- Evacuation plan: make, discuss and practice an evacuation plan. Plan for your pets too. Having it can save valuable time during an emergency, when you have to act quickly.
- Evacuation package: it should be in one place, ready to go in minutes, and everyone should know where it is. It must contain vital documents, medications, key financial information and irreplaceable Items (e.g.: paper photos, family heirlooms, etc).