Insuring and Protecting your Home for the Colorado Fire Season
It’s gettin’ hot in here, so let's bring out the hose!
As we all know, the 2020 Colorado fire season was not one for the books, although it did make history as being the most active fire season in Colorado’s existence. Summer 2020 encountered three of Colorado’s largest wildfires to date, and 100 days of fire. This resulted in evacuations of hundreds of homes – hundreds of which were destroyed.
Included in those 100 days of fire, was a 13-day closure of Insterstate 70 due to the Grizzly Creek Fire in Glenwood Canyon – hitting us way too close for comfort. With a lack of rainfall and snowfall in the western states this year and last, some areas are two months ahead of schedule in terms of water levels. Officials are giving notice to what could possibly be another catastrophic 2021 wildfire season.
Living in the mountains calls for thoughtful and strategic plans during the fire season. “We’re having fire years, not fire seasons,” said Mike Morgan (Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control). This only gives us more reason to proactively seek ways in which we can protect our assets.
The Colorado fire season has officially arrived, and we are here to help you create your fire safety plan in light of protecting your beloved home and property.
Knowing The Benefits Of Your Home Insurance Policy
With a hot and dry season ahead of us, homeowners must do their part to prepare for the 2021 Colorado fire season. Tim Morgan, founder of Roaring Fork Insurance, has shared with us his insight and knowledge about the world of home insurance and fire safety.
Morgan and his team have created insurance plans that cater to the “unique exposures” real estate in the Roaring Fork Valley faces year-round. At Engel and Völkers, our advisors are constantly representing properties with unique characteristics, all of which call for different types of coverage.
Because of the topography in the valley, and the location of many homes and ranches, some properties are much harder to access and protect than others. Morgan explains the importance of knowing what your insurance plan consists of.
“There are many benefits to fire insurance that some policyholders are unaware of. Because of this, they do not utilize their resources and are not always prepared for possible situations.” – Tim Morgan
“There are many benefits to fire insurance that some policyholders are unaware of. Because of this, they do not utilize their resources and are not always prepared for possible situations.” - Tim Morgan
Impacts Of Increased Fire Risks
Morgan touches on the impacts of the increased fire risks. Due to an increasing length of Colorado fire season, certain parts of insurance plans have changed. In some cases, home insurance is much less accessible; in others, prices have skyrocketed due to the particular risks homes may be facing. Understanding the details of your individual policy is a very important part of securing your home.
“In relation to wildfires, the proximity to the local fire station has a big impact on the cost of insurance,” says Morgan. “If your home is secluded and far from the station, or if it has a wood shake shingle roof, your provider may deny your insurance request. This is because they are simply not comfortable with your given situation, and may deny coverage. That being said, you will still be able to find other markets. However, it will only be provided at a much greater cost.”
Because the Colorado fire season gets longer each year, insurance companies have had to modify their plans to account for new liabilities.
Every company has reacted differently to the increased risk of wildfires. Some companies have increased their prices by over 25%, while others have maintained their costs. However, many companies that have increased their rates have also worked to develop systems and plans that provide better protection when it comes to wildfires. This includes purchasing more equipment in preparation for dispatching multiple crews at once, along with the need to hire more crew members – which means educating a larger team.
Finding The Right Plan
When speaking with Morgan, he put a lot of stress on the fact that many policyholders do not actually know what access they have to management services when it comes to wildfire defense. Because homeowners are not fully aware of the benefits they have, they do not incorporate these benefits into their fire safety plan. Collaboration with Wildfire Defense Systems is one of the biggest benefits offered, and should be utilized for Colorado fire season.
Including Roaring Fork insurance, many insurance agencies partner with Wildfire Defense Systems. Based out of Bozeman, Montana, this company employs private wildfire crews who are dispatched to your property as soon as it is at risk.
During the 2018 Lake Christine Fire in between El Jebel and Basalt, Colorado, Wildfire Defense Systems had fire trucks stationed all over Missouri Heights. They came to ensure all boots were on the ground, while monitoring the fire and protecting all insured homes.
When a wildfire arises, crews are immediately dispatched. Upon arrival, the wildfire crews go to each of their clients’ properties and begin to remove woodpiles and flammable materials – utilizing the practice of small-scale brush mitigation. In extreme cases, they then proceed to take preventative measures which include relocating outdoor furniture, and spraying fire-retardant gel to fight off the fire.
To some, these practices may seem severe. However, these techniques have proven to be the most effective strategies when securing your property in the presence of a wildfire.
When giving his advice to residents in the Roaring Fork Valley, Morgan stresses, “The most effective and easiest way to reduce risk is through creating what is known as ‘defensible space.’ Defensible space is created by removing any dead or dried-out vegetation within thirty feet of your home. This includes pruning the lower limbs of your trees, and relocating any firewood.”
Protect Yourself & Those Around You
The Colorado fire season is upon us; although it may seem out of our control, we must act before it is too late. It is our responsibility to protect our environment and the wildlife in surrounding areas. Please protect your home, and create an effective plan to deploy in the face of a wildfire.
There are many vital steps homeowners must take to prepare their home for the Colorado fire season. Smaller steps are the most important steps, and every step counts.
DIY Preventative Measures
Create Defensible Space
Clear out all dead brush or vegetation within thirty feet of your home or property.
All firewood should be stored away from your home, along with any other extremely flammable materials.
Clean Your Roof
Cleaning the gutters and the roof of your home is an imperative step in securing the property.
Coordinate With Your Neighbors
Communicating with surrounding home and property owners in regards to planning and cleaning will likely create a community effort.
Knowing the benefits of your home insurance can save you lots of time and money. Why waste resources when you’re at risk during the Colorado fire season?
Make a Plan
The most important step to protecting your real estate is educating all people that live in the your home and community. In the case of an emergency, all residents should feel confident in the plan that you have created.