It doesn’t matter how close you are to a fire hydrant, the number of local fire stations or if you keep your yard well-manicured, your property may still be classified as a High Brush Zone or Wild Fire Hazard Area; making it difficult to find California Wildfire or High Brush Insurance.
So, how can this be? Most insurance carriers base a home’s eligibility and rates from information collected by a 3rd party known as the ISO (Insurance Services Office). The ISO provides data, underwriting information, risk management statistics to measure how “risky” a home is in relation to wild fires.
Homes that are in designated California high fire zones or wild fire areas are typically located on hillsides, canyons, sloped terrain or high brush areas. Insurance carriers also look at the geography, topography and distance to brush/fuel of each individual home.
What do Insurance Companies use to determine premiums and if your property is in a high fire zone?
PPC Code or Public Protection Class
The PPC code is based on a 1-10 scale (10 = very high fire risk). The PPC takes into consideration the distance to a fire hydrant and the nearest RESPONDING fire station (volunteer stations don’t count). Once your score goes above a 5, there is a premium surcharge.
Insurance carriers prefer your home is within 5 miles of a responding fire station and less than 1000 feet from a fire hydrant.
ARS Score (Also known as a Brushfire Score)
The ARS Score is based on a 1-15 scale (15 = very high fire risk). A home’s ARS score is determined by 3 variables:
– The type/amount of brush or fuel within ¼ mile radius. Many carriers decline a home insurance if they are within 100-2500 feet of brush. Einhorn Insurance will insure homes within 100 feet of brush.
– The slope and terrain
– How easily the dwelling can be accessed by a fire truck (is the road paved and can it be accessed from more than one direction).
Once an insurance company determines the home is difficult to access or can’t be seen from a public road, they often classify the “risk” as ineligible.
Insurance companies prefer your home has an ARS score of 11 or less. If your home has a wood roof and a 6+ ARS score, you may be ineligible with most insurance carriers.
Special Hazard Interface Area (SHIA)
A home is in a Special Hazard Interface Area if it has an unfavorable fuel and slope score. Properties fall under the SHIA parameters may have to follow 8 requirements to be insurable.
1. No fences, playground equipment, trellises or other combustible structures within 30 feet of the home.
2. Brush must be cleared within 100 feet or up to the property line, whichever is less.
3. No vegetation within 10 feet of a propane tank & the tank must be more than 30 feet from the home.
4. No wood roofs.
5. Gutters, soffit vents, chimney and stovepipe non-combustible mesh with opening of no more than one quarter inch.
6. No dead or dying plants, shrubs or bushes within 30 feet of the home.
7. Eaves and overhangs must be boxed or enclosed with non-flammable materials to reduce the surface area and eliminate any edges that can trap burning embers.
8. There must be at least 15 feet of vertical clearance between the home and overhanging tree branches.
Einhorn Insurance understands your frustration with finding the right California home insurance, especially if you are trying to close escrow. We are here to help you find home insurance when your property is located in a high fire are or a brush hazard zone. For more information, visit our wildfire insurance page or call 858-336-4644 or email us at Agent@EinhornInsurance.com.
If you are a San Diego homeowner in a hazardous brush zone and purchase a home insurance policy with Einhorn Insurance, we’ll donate a lunch to your responding fire station in your honor. Einhorn Insurance supports the men and women that risk their lives daily to keep our homes, families and communities safe.