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Home Insurance and Wildfires: Protecting your Santa Cruz Real Estate

See a bigger version of this map here.


As reported in 2007 by CalFire, a majority of Santa Cruz county is in a moderate to high fire zone (source).


With wildfires rearing up in Northern California, including in our beloved Santa Cruz County, we know that many of our homeowner clients and future homeowner friends are asking “What can I do to protect my Santa Cruz Real Estate?”.


This guide gives an extensive list of things you can do to prevent your home from catching fire. This Santa Cruz County resident serves as a good example of someone who has taken fire-safety very seriously. These kinds of preventative measure may become the norm in the near future. According to Nasa Scientist, Mika Tosca, with just a 1ºC change in global temperatures fires are predicted to increase from 100 to 600 percent, and according to projects the earth is poised to warm another 1 to 6ºC. Unfortunately, no one can be 100% sure that his/her home is safe, but we can push the odds in our favor by taking steps to reduce the likelihood that our homes will catch fire.


Should a disaster strike your home, a key to fire-preparedness is to ensure that you have adequate home insurance. The typical homeowners policy* covers destruction and damage caused by a fire, including wildfires. This means that the insurance company will pay to rebuild or repair your home and remediate smoke damage. Quoted in this article, Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders suggests doing the following to calculate the right amount of coverage for your home:


“You can take your policy limit and divide it by your home’s square footage to get a rough estimate. If the number is less than $200 per square foot, you’re probably underinsured and should consider purchasing more coverage”. Additionally, “make sure and have ‘code upgrade’ coverage, which helps cover the cost of bringing your new home up to the latest building standards”.


Essentially, you want to estimate what a contractor would charge to rebuild your home from the ground up.


Additionally, this standard policy will usually cover the loss of belongings in a fire. How much insurance is enough when it comes to your personal things? Knowing the answer to this question entails taking and regularly updating an inventory of your present-day belongings and ensuring that your policy covers at least that amount. Taking an inventory will not only help you pick out the right policy, but should a natural disaster strike, it will enable you to prove the value of what you owned, and could speed up the processing of your claim. Furthermore, it will provide documentation for tax deductions that you can claim on your losses.


In today’s world, taking an inventory is relatively easy. You can use your smartphone, camera, or video-recorder to record your possessions. In addition, be sure to write down descriptions of the items recorded, including year, make, and model numbers, when appropriate. For valuable items, you may want to have an appraisal to determine the item’s worth. Don’t forget to store your inventory somewhere where it can be easily accessed and will not be destroyed by a disaster. There are even home-inventory apps available, which, if synced with the cloud, will give you peace of mind knowing that your inventory is safe no matter what happens.


Finally, an important question to ask about your insurance company: how will my claim be processed? It’s important to know how long you have to file a claim post-fire, the amount of time it will take to process the claim, and what information will be expected of you when you file. Read more about settling insurance claims after a disaster here.

We believe in helping you not only buy and sell real estate, but helping you to be a responsible and satisfied homeowner. If you like this blog post, and would like to see more, please sign up for our monthly newslsetter.


*Be sure and check with your insurance provider to verify your coverage. We do not guarantee that these types of coverage are included in all homeowner insurance policies.


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