Phoenix, AZ, (March 31st, 2015) – The US Forest Service has declared March 29thth – April 3rd Southwest Wildfire Awareness Week. Earlier than normal high temperatures coupled with a warm, dry winter has created a year round threat of wildfires throughout Arizona and its neighboring states.
“Arizonan’s are advised to make preparations and create defensible space around their homes and owned buildings now,” says Nicole Farr of the Arizona Insurance Council (AIC). “Arizona’s continued drought conditions increase the risk of wildfire reaching more homes and more businesses statewide.” Farr says “Including autos, boats and other personal property, wildfire caused losses could be millions of dollars this year alone.”
Arizona property owners can access wildfire safety and property saving tips on AIC’s website, http://www.azinsurance.org, Arizona Wildfire & Forest Information.
Arizona Firewise, a cooperative effort of state and federal forest, wildfire and wildlife organizations, has published a booklet – “Living With Wildfire: Homeowner’s Firewise Guide for Arizona.” The book, free online at the AIC website, is a comprehensive review of wildfire behavior, survivable space and Firewise techniques, checklists for various landscaping and housing materials, and emergency guidelines.
Among the tips to protect property from wildfire are:
• If the home is on flat land surrounded by grassland, create a 30-foot defensible space zone around the home. If the home sits on a slope with adjacent vegetation that is dense or has tall brush, create defensible space of at least 200 feet.
• Prune trees near structures and remove excess ground fuels such as fallen needles, cones and branches,
• Pile firewood and other flammables well away from home and other structures,
• Keep access roads free of debris and vegetation to improve access and escape in case of fire,
• Clean debris from roofs and gutters, and
• Consider constructing or renovating with fire resistant building materials.
In addition, the property and casualty insurers of Arizona, represented by AIC, suggest thoroughly reviewing your homeowner’s policy.
“An annual insurance policy check-up is an essential factor in protecting your home and belongings any time of year,” says Farr. “Home and business owners should contact their agent or insurance company to make certain they have the proper level of coverage.”
Key points to go over with your insurance agent or company include:
• Does the policy cover the current costs of rebuilding your house? The increases in cost for lumber, steel, concrete and copper have significantly outpaced other products. Those price increases affect what insurers pay to repair and rebuild homes and the costs of satisfying those claims is shared by all homeowner insurance consumers.
• Does your policy provide coverage for additional living expenses, such as hotel bills and restaurant meals for the time you are evacuated from your home and/or while your home is being rebuilt?
• Is your insurance company or agent aware of any improvements you have made on your home or business? Updating a kitchen, new carpeting or installing a swimming pool adds to the value of your home. The same applies to business improvements.
• Have you upgraded your home electrical system or plumbing system, or installed anti-theft alarms or fire sprinklers? These improvements could help reduce your insurance premium, depending on your insurance company’s business practices.
These and other safety and insurance tips are available at AIC’s website at http://www.azinsurance.org.
The Arizona Insurance Council is a non-profit organization supported by member companies in the property-casualty insurance business.