U.S. West Consumer Survey: 4-in-10 Policyholders Don’t Talk to Insurer About Wildfire Risks

August 5, 2021

Most residents of the wildfire-plagued Western U.S. believe in mitigation efforts, but fewer are actually taking such steps – while more than 40% have never spoken to their insurer about wildfire risk, according to a survey out on Thursday.

Zesty.ai, a property risk analytics firm, released the results of a new survey exploring how prepared residents of Western states are for wildfire season.

The season so far has gotten off to a bad start. The Dixie Fire, the state’s largest ongoing blaze, has so far burned 274 acres, and is only 35% contained, according to the latest data from CalFire late Wednesday.

The Zesty.ai survey found that 89% of all respondents said they believe mitigation efforts like clearing vegetation and installing screens on windows to keep embers out can have an impact in protecting property from wildfires, but only 66% reported taking steps on these efforts. For those that are, roughly a quarter take action all-year round.

Just over half of survey respondents said the best way to get fire information would be through a letter from local fire officials, followed by 40% who think it’d be best to get this information when renewing or applying for homeowners insurance, and 9% who would like to get this information from a real estate website like Zillow.

Despite the fact that 40% of respondents would like to get this information through their insurance provider, 58% have never spoken to their carrier about wildfire risk.

It also found that the majority of all respondents (55%) don’t know if they live in a high-risk area, despite 87% saying they are either concerned or very concerned about this year’s wildfire season.

Several insurance providers are currently using Zesty.ai’s Z-FIRE model to measure wildfire risk at the individual property level. Farmers Insurance filed to use Z-FIRE for underwriting in California and that filing was approved by the California Department of Insurance in mid-June. With Z-FIRE, Farmers estimates it will now be able to offer coverage for at least 30,000 homes that legacy models deemed too high risk.

Related:

Topics Carriers Catastrophe Natural Disasters USA Trends Wildfire

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