Wildfire Series Part 1: Proactive Protection

At Lockton, our goal is to help you reduce the likelihood of a loss caused by wildfires or smoke damage. By implementing some - or all - of our recommended strategies, you may be able to minimize the scope of damage to your luxury home and all the cherished belongings inside, as well as keeping premium costs under control. And rest assured we’re here for you if you need us.

As we are seeing in Lahaina, wildfires can rapidly spread with few firefighting resources to go around. Sometimes roads become impassable, and firefighters can’t get to you quickly or at all. The severity of these disasters is not only having a dramatic influence on premiums, but it also negatively impacts the ability to obtain coverage at all. Here are some ways you can lessen your risk:

1. Build a defensible zone around the perimeter of your property. This zone should be at least 30 feet away from any structure and kept free of combustible items. These items include woodpiles, wooden patio furniture with cloth cushions, or flammable garden sheds. Make sure to clear your roof and gutters of debris, too.

2. Create 100 feet of brush clearance and keep tree branches trimmed and maintained to a minimum of three yards away from your roof or structure.

3. Switch to fire resistant roofing and siding material. The common asphalt shingle is vulnerable to embers and glowing brands during a wildfire, so consider upgrading to metal roofs, fire-rated shingles, or fire-retardant siding as safer alternatives.

4. Install automatic sprinkler systems outside, as well as inside, your home. This is a great extra precaution that can reduce areas of vulnerability.

5. Mount central station fire and burglar alarms if you haven’t already done so.

6. Cover exterior vents with 1/8” wire mesh (or smaller) to reduce the risk of live embers entering the interior of your dwelling.

7. Permanently install a back-up generator.

8. Consider removing fine art and collectibles from your home prior to fire season. Many areas have weatherproof vaults where precious belongings can be safely stored during times of high risk.

9. Review your evacuation plan with your family and refresh “bug out” bags with new protein bars and bottles of water. Make sure to include a first aid kit, medications, and anything special needed for babies and toddlers.

10. Don’t forget your pets. Ensure that you have a way to transport them to safety, as well as packing medications, food, and treats.

You’ve worked hard to select impeccable furnishings, purchase your dream cars, and even find the perfect pair of jeans. Yet sometimes it’s not a question of “if” but “when,” and these strategies may help you minimize the extent of any fire or smoke damage.

Parts 2 and 3 of this series will focus on additional steps you can take to proactively protect your belongings and ease the burden of rising homeowners’ insurance premiums.