Wildfire prep means buying the right insurance

Posted at 6:00 AM, Oct 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-13 10:03:55-04

Wildfires destroying homes in Northern California are providing key reminder to San Diegans - be prepared.

A large part of that is having the correct homeowner's insurance policy. Still, that's no sure thing, even though fire coverage is a basic part of homeowner's insurance.  

Nancy Kincaid, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Insurance, says not everyone has enough coverage to rebuild their home in case it burns down.

It takes some research to figure out the right amount.


Kincaid says a good start is to ask a local builder or contractor for your neighborhood's average construction cost per square foot. Multiply that by the number of square feet in your home. Then, add 10 percent to pay for a premium in labor costs if a lot of nearby homes need to be rebuilt.


A Rancho Bernardo said who declined to give his name said he lived in what amounted to a construction zone years after the 2007 wildfires.


John Kunigonis's home was one of those being rebuilt - this time with extra safety features.


"Some of the big changes (are) tempered glass in the house so the windows don't break, " he said, "and vents... we have vents that basically are stuffed with steel wool so there's something to keep the embers from coming into the house."


Some insurers don't offer coverage in high wildfire risk areas. The state, however, has its own insurance program called FAIR, which will sell you a policy. 


Renters can insure their belongings through renters insurance policies. 


Kincaid said both homeowners and renters should use their smartphones to take videos of their belongings and important documents in case they need to evacuate quickly. Those videos can help with claims.