Fire, especially in California, is a natural disaster that commercial property owners must factor into their insurance costs. In fact, research shows that “California is the most wildfire-prone state in the United States… account[ing] for roughly 31% of all acres burned due to wildland fires in the U.S.”
This considered, it’s important to discuss California’s fire zones and what they mean for commercial insurance. Let’s dive in.
what are fire zones?
First off, what is a fire zone? According to the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM), “California law requires CAL FIRE to identify areas [fire zones] based on the severity of fire hazard that is expected to prevail there.”
These fire zones are ranked based on increasing fire hazard as either:
- Or, very high
The way in which each area is ranked is based on a number of factors, including fire history, vegetation, flame length, blowing embers, terrain, and weather.
california fire zones
California is known for being prone to fire, which is not good if you’re a commercial property owner.
Luckily, you can assess your risk by using the California Fire Hazard Zones map, courtesy of OSFM.
when is fire season?
Peak fire season in California differs based on your location, for example, if you’re in NorCal or SoCal.
Northern California: Peak fire season begins in the early summer (June to July) and ends in late fall.
Southern California: Peak fire season begins in late spring (May to June) and ends in fall.
fire season is getting longer
Fire season is typically deemed “over” after the first rainfall of fall or winter. Interestingly, however, the season is longer than it used to be due to rising global temperatures. In fact, the United States Forest Service (USFS) estimated in 2015 that fire season had already gotten about two-and-a-half months longer than in the 1970s due to climate change.
what do I need to look at to stay protected?
There are two things you need to take a look at to ensure your commercial property is protected during fire season.
your fire insurance policy!
Fire insurance is very important for any commercial property owner or investor—especially considering the consequences of not having adequate coverage.
Fire insurance is “a form of property insurance that covers damage and losses caused by fire.” While most homeowners’ policies come with some form of fire protection, additional coverage is often required. You must be sure these investments are fully insured without umbrellas so that the total limits of liability exceed your property assets.
Fire insurance is especially important for individuals who own investment properties. The number of investment properties you own could determine whether or not you’re able to use personal lines of insurance to cover fire-related issues.
your risk mitigation strategy
Today, insurers are sticklers about whom they will cover (and rightfully so considering the damage fire can have on commercial property).
Underwriters often now require businesses in high-risk areas to take certain measures to protect their property against fire. These measures might include:
- Creating defensible space by carefully selecting your landscaping vegetation
- Building with only non-combustible building materials
- Routine cleaning and maintenance of dried vegetation
- Ensuring you have clear access to a reliable water supply
For business owners who are interested, read on to find out how much you should pay to insure your business.