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Always Prepared

A Leading Basalt Agent on Fire Insurance and Protecting the Value of Your Home

Roaring Fork: Is there a difference in fire insurance coverage for damage due to wildfire versus internal home fire?

Derron Cloud: In most cases, fire is a covered peril whether due to wildfire or internal home fire. You should meet at least annually with your insurance agent. You can get the best out of meeting with your agent by asking about your current coverages and understanding any limitations and exclusions to the homeowners policy. You can be better prepared for a loss when you are aware of what is covered and what is not.

RF: What's our general risk level for fire damage here in the valley?

Cloud: As we have seen the last few years with the Grizzly Creek Fire, the Lake Christine Fire, and most recently the Marshall Fire, wildfires can occur anywhere at any time. Because of the risk of wildfires in Roaring Fork Valley, it’s imperative for the community to be as prepared as possible. They can start by talking to their insurance agent to ensure coverage is up-to-date and keeping an updated home inventory accessible.

RF: What's covered if a home is completely lost? Partially lost?

Cloud: Originally, a standard homeowners policy covered only the risk of fire. Today’s homeowners policies provide protection against a number of the “perils” of modern life, in one “package” policy. A typical homeowners policy can provide insurance protection for the following:

  • Home: The physical dwelling structure and other structures attached to it.
  • Other structures: For example, a detached garage, pool house, guesthouse, green house, or tool shed.
  • Personal property: This covers the contents of the home such as furniture, appliances, or clothing. Certain types of property may have specific dollar limits.
  • Loss of use or additional living expense: If a home is damaged by a covered peril, loss-of-use coverage helps meet the costs of hotel bills, apartment or rental home, eating out, and other living expenses while the home is being repaired. This policy section can also reimburse a homeowner for lost income if a room in the home were rented out. This is sometimes insured on an actual-loss-sustained basis.
  • Personal liability: Provides protection against legal liability for bodily injury or property damage if a third party is accidentally injured.
  • Medical payments: Also known as guest-medical payments, this section provides coverage if a third party is accidentally injured and needs medical treatment.

RF: How can homeowners keep up with adequate insurance amidst increasing home values?

Cloud: Meeting with your agent at least annually is the best way to make sure your coverage is up to date. Your insurance needs change over time. Conducting a home insurance review with your agent at least once each year can help you determine if your policies still make sense for your current situation.

RF: Could you offer five tips on simple things residents can do to protect their homes and belongings from fire danger?

  1. Remove or reduce the potential fuel within a 30-foot safety zone around your home. (If you live in a high-risk area, increase the safety zone to 100 feet). 

2. Remove highly flammable and low-branched trees, such as evergreens, eucalyptus and juniper. For remaining trees, remove limbs within 15 feet of the ground.

  1. Move stacked wood and other flammable items outside the safety zone
  2. Maintain a home inventory and review it with your insurance agent yearly to ensure you are properly insured.
  3. Help ensure your family's safety by installing and maintaining smoke alarms and fire extinguishers in your home. Have a wildfire evacuation plan with your family!

Derron Cloud is a State Farm agent in Basalt, and has been an insurance professional with the company for seven years. He has lived in the valley since 2006 and currently resides with his wife Mary in Glenwood Springs. He can be reached at 970.927.0419 or at CoveredByCloud.com.