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wildfire mitigation discount

Wildfire damage to homes has resulted in billions of dollars in insurance claims in recent years, and California has been the hardest hit, causing a home insurance crisis. Reducing the risk of wildfire damage to your home can prevent a major loss and save you money on insurance.

“Mitigation is crucial to lessening the risk of loss from wildfire. Individual home hardening, land clearing and community wildfire mitigation go a long way to keeping communities safe and resilient. Programs such as Wildfire Prepared Home and Firewise USA offer homeowners and communities excellent resources,” says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communications for the Insurance Information Institute in California.

In 2022, the California Department of Insurance required California home insurance companies to provide discounts for wildfire mitigation efforts. Currently, it’s the only state where wildfire mitigation discounts are required; options are limited in other states.

Fire mitigation around your home includes clearing brush and upgrading your roof to fire-resistant materials. Which actions will earn you a discount depends on the company, although some discounts are required by California law.

Key takeaways

  • Insurance companies in California are required by law to provide wildfire mitigation discounts to homeowners.
  • Wildfire mitigation discounts are available for mitigation measures on your property and upgrades to your home.
  • Community-level discounts are available for homes in Firewise USA sites outside of California, but only from USAA.

What are wildfire mitigation discounts?

Home insurance companies provide wildfire mitigation discounts to homeowners who make changes or upgrades that reduce the risk of wildfire damage. They are also available to homes in communities that have certain designations.

Discounts for wildfire mitigation are mainly found in California, where wildfires have had a major impact on home insurance rates. Currently, they have limited availability in other states.

How can you get a discount for wildfire mitigation?

Contact your insurance company to have wildfire mitigation discounts added to your policy. You will likely be required to provide evidence of the completed work. If you live in California, discounts are required by law for certain types of mitigation. In other states, options are limited.

“I am not aware of any states other than California that mandate insurer wildfire mitigation discounts, but instead are working with insurers on WUI building codes, mitigation grant funding and community-wide mitigation initiatives.,” says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association (RMIA), which represents Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

Currently, the only company known to offer discounts outside of California is USAA, which offers discounts to homes in Firewise USA communities in the following 10 states:

  • California
  • Colorado
  • Texas
  • Arizona
  • Oregon
  • New Mexico
  • Utah
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Idaho

What wildfire mitigation strategies earn a home insurance discount?

You can do a few different things to get a home insurance discount for wildfire mitigation, although what qualifies for a discount differs from company to company.

Some of the things that can earn you a wildfire mitigation discount are:

  • Upgrading your roof to fire-resistant materials
  • Creating defensible space on the property around the home by clearing vegetation and combustible debris
  • Installing enclosed eaves and ember/fire-resistant vents to prevent sparks and embers from igniting the house
  • Installing multi-pane windows or deployable non-combustible shutters
  • Community-level wildfire mitigation

What are the required wildfire mitigation discounts in California? 

In California, all home insurance companies must offer some type of wildfire mitigation discount, either at the community level, such as Firewise communities or for specific mitigation on the property itself.

Per the California law, insurance companies must offer discounts for the items listed in the table below. Insurance companies can add further discounts to this list.

Community levelImmediate surroundingsBuilding hardening
Fire Risk Reduction CommunityClear debris and vegetation under decksClass-A fire-rated roof
Firewise USA site Clear debris, vegetation, mulch, combustible materials and objects within five feet of the buildingEnclosed eaves
Have only noncombustible materials within five feet of the buildingFire-resistant vents
Have no combustible structures within 30 feet of the buildingMulti-pane windows
Create a defensible space around the buildingAt least six inches of noncombustible vertical clearance at the bottom of the exterior

How much is the wildfire mitigation discount?

The amount of the discount varies by company and also by the type of wildfire mitigation. It may also depend on where you live. Different parts of California have different wildfire risk levels, affecting discounts.

According to Ruiz, State Farm offers a 2% discount for community mitigation and 5% for home mitigation. Discounts from other insurance companies will vary.

Contact your insurance company to find out how much the available discount is for your home.

Sources:

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