How To Protect Your Home From Wildfires With Insurance

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Standard homeowners insurance will typically insure your home and personal property from a wildfire, but not always. Insurers may exclude wildfire damage in your policy or deny your application entirely if your home is located in a wildfire-prone area. If you’re unable to qualify for homeowners insurance, your state may offer alternative coverage solutions.

An average of nearly 59,000 wildfires burned each year from 2019 to 2023. Read on to learn about insuring your home and protecting it against wildfires.[1]

Key Takeaways

  • Standard home insurance will typically insure your home for fire and smoke damage from a wildfire.
  • Some insurers may deny coverage if your home is located in a high-risk area for wildfires.
  • Insurance rates are generally higher in wildfire-prone areas or in communities ill-equipped to extinguish or mitigate fires.
  • If you’re unable to find wildfire coverage in the private marketplace, reach out to your state’s insurance commissioner for alternative insurance options.

What Type of Insurance Covers Homes From Wildfires?

For most people who already have homeowners insurance, their policy will already include insurance for wildfires. However, if you live in an area with a high risk of suffering a wildfire, then you may find that your current insurer is nonrenewing your policy and other insurers are hesitant about insuring you. In this case, you may need to turn to your state-run home insurance program to secure coverage against wildfires (more on this later).

What Is Wildfire Insurance?

A wildfire insurance policy provides coverage for your home and personal property in case they are damaged or destroyed in a wildfire. A standard home policy covers both fire and smoke damage and your home insurer should reimburse your losses up to the policy limits.

How Do Wildfires and Insurance Work?

Keep in mind that some insurers will conduct an inspection before they decide to insure you or renew your policy, especially if you live in a high-risk zone. They may check for things like whether your roof is fire-resistant and if you’ve been clearing excess overbrush and may require you to complete repairs or maintenance before you can qualify for coverage.[2]

What Is Covered?

Homeowners have several types of protections if their insurer covers fire damage from wildfires:

  • Dwelling and other structures: This coverage will insure your home’s structure plus external structures (e.g., sheds, fences, detached garages) if they catch fire. You may also want to look into buying extended replacement cost coverage, which increases your dwelling coverage and can help cover a catastrophic loss.
  • Personal property: Electronics, clothes, furniture and other belongings are covered but typically only up to 50% to 75% of your dwelling coverage limit.[3]
  • Loss of use: Also called additional living expenses coverage, loss of use coverage pays for expenses that exceed your daily living costs (e.g., renting a hotel, meals) if your home is temporarily unlivable due to a wildfire.
  • Landscaping: Some home policies will have endorsements to insure trees, shrubs and plants if burned in the wildfire.

What Isn’t Covered?

Certain valuables, like jewelry, furs and antiques are reimbursable only up to the item’s sublimit even if your personal property coverage limit is higher.

Example: Say you have $100,000 in personal contents coverage, a $2,000 sublimit for jewelry and a $1,000 deductible. A wildfire completely devastates your home, including your $5,000 wedding ring. After paying your deductible, your insurer reimburses you for only $2,000 (your sublimit).


Adding scheduled property coverage to your policy can increase those limits to ensure your wedding ring is reimbursed at its replacement cost value. For homes with high-value contents, scheduled property coverage can be a good investment.

Who Should Consider Wildfire Insurance?

If your homeowners insurance policy doesn’t include coverage for wildfires, you likely live in a moderate- to high-risk zone, and you should strongly consider getting dedicated wildfire coverage. Your lender will likely even require it.

Some states offer Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) Plans to help homeowners who are denied coverage by insurance companies.

For example, the California FAIR Plan is a last-resort home insurance alternative for those who do not qualify with traditional insurers because of their property’s high vulnerability to wildfires. The FAIR Plan is a named peril policy that insures the property specifically for fires, wildfires, lightning, smoke and internal explosions. Coverage for additional perils is available but at an additional cost. Unfortunately, personal liability insurance is not available in a FAIR plan.

Does It Cost More To Live in Wildfire-Prone Areas?

Home insurance companies will likely increase your insurance premiums if you live in a wildfire-prone area. Expect even higher premiums if you live in an area with a poor fire protection class. Communities are ranked from one to 10 — one being the best score — and a superior score signals that well-trained, well-equipped and experienced firefighters are on standby with a generous water supply to combat wildfires. A high-ranking community may therefore have lower home insurance premiums.

In 2023, California had the most homes at risk of wildfires at 1,279,214 homes, followed by Colorado (332,716 homes) and Texas (233,434 homes). If you live in any of these states or the other states highlighted in the map below, then you are more likely to face higher insurance premiums due to wildfire risk and you should take extra precautions against wildfires.[4]

states with most homes at risk for extreme wildfires

How Can I Protect My Home From Wildfires?

Wildfire season generally occurs in the hotter summer months. The tips below can help you, your family and home stay safe:

  • Make firefighting tools accessible: Fire extinguishers, hoses and buckets should be easily reachable. Also learn how to safely operate these tools.
  • Keep your trees and shrubs trimmed: Culling excess foliage and overhanging tree branches can help mitigate the spread of wildfire.
  • Clear a safety zone around your home: Removing trees, leaves, pine needles and other foliage can help prevent the fire from reaching your home’s structure.
  • Install smoke detectors: If you already have smoke detectors, ensure they are working properly.
  • Clear debris: Clear dead leaves, sticks and other debris from your roof and rain gutters.
  • Invest in fire-resistant roofing: Using a roof with fire-resistant materials can help mitigate damage to your home.
  • Install dual-paned tempered glass windows: This investment can help prevent your windows from breaking from high heat, which may help prevent the wildfire from entering your home.
  • Create a home inventoryWildfires can cause significant damage to your home and belongings, making it difficult to quantify your actual losses. Itemizing all your belongings with pictures and receipts can save you tons of time when filing a claim for your damaged property.

Insurance Companies Are Helping Homeowners Protect Their Homes

Some insurance companies are helping their customers respond to fires more effectively. For example, State Farm has partnered with Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc., a wildfire risk mitigation company, to provide a completely free wildfire response endorsement to California homeowners. During a wildfire outbreak, Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc. will deploy a team to help mitigate the fire.[5]

How To Get Wildfire Coverage in My State

Shopping around is the best way to affordably insure your home against wildfires and other perils. You should compare quotes from at least three to five insurance companies but providing details about your home, insurance history and personal information can be tedious. Instead, you can get a quote within minutes by letting SmartFinancial do the shopping for you.

If you find that you’re getting rejected continuously in the private insurance marketplace, you may want to look to your state’s FAIR plan. However, it’s always recommended that you shop around before buying a FAIR plan because it is usually costlier. See below for a list of states that offer FAIR plans and their respective websites.

Find Cheap Home Insurance Quotes


Is wildfire insurance required in my state?

There is no law requiring wildfire/homeowners insurance but your mortgage lender may require you to maintain this coverage until you fully repay your loan.

Does home insurance cover brush fires?

A standard home policy typically covers losses from brush fires.

What if a wildfire damages my car?

If you have comprehensive coverage in your auto insurance policy, your insurer should cover your car if it is lost in a wildfire.

What can I do if my home insurance company nonrenewed my policy?

You can buy new coverage either through consulting an insurance agent, calling companies yourself or by turning to your state’s FAIR plan if one is available. You should also look into whether your state prohibits insurance companies from canceling or nonrenewing your coverage due to recent wildfire activity in your area, which may allow you to retain coverage from your current carrier.[6]


  1. National Interagency Fire Center. “Wildfires and Acres.” Accessed May 21, 2024.
  2. Fire Safe Marin. “Wildfire Insurance.” Accessed May 21, 2024.
  3. Lemonade. “Dwelling Coverage.” Accessed May 21, 2024.
  4. Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Wildfires.” Accessed May 21, 2024.
  5. State Farm. “State Farm Now Offering Added Wildfire Protection in California, Arizona and Washington.” Accessed May 21, 2024.
  6. California Department of Insurance. “Mandatory One Year Moratorium on Non-Renewals.” Accessed May 21, 2024.

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