Fireline and Your Home

What is a Brushfire Score?  What is a Fireline Score?

Why does it matter?  How we Can Help!

fireline score and home insurance

The Fireline Score

The fireline score is one of numerous metrics used by home insurance companies to assess how likely it is that you home may be burned in a forest fire.  Fireline is a registered Verisk trademark and product.

When evaluating your home for fire danger there are numerous considerations for insurance companies. Some are simple to explain and others are not. Some are obvious, some not so.

In general your insurance company tries to assess how likely your home is to be caught in some sort of fire.  A home based fire and a wildland fire.   A home can be burnt down either from some sort of local fire that either starts in your home (or the home next door.)  It can also be destroyed by a wild fire from across the street.  Insurers also attempt to assess how devastating a fire may be.   Will the home burn to the ground or will the fire department respond quickly enough.

Two Scores:

There are generally two separate fire scores that are considered when evaluating your home.  The Fire Protection Class and a Wildfire Score.   The fire protection class score is a ranking from 1-10 of how able your responding fire department is to put out a fire at your home.  It is really a ranking partially of your home.  Partially of the fire department.  How Fast or How Efficiently.   Full Time, Part Time?  Professionals, Volunteers?  This involves the distance that the fire department responding location is.  How many firefighters.   What are their training level.  It also gets in to the real specifics.   How many trucks they have.  What kinds.  How much water they carry with them.   The volume of water they are able to disperse.  The other score is the Wildfire Score.  The wildfire score relates to the property’s location in relationship to wildfire fuel.  Please do not confuse these two.  They are different.

Assessing Wildfire Danger:

In years past, many insurance companies essentially just wanted to know the distance to unmaintained brush.  That is wild brush that was not regularly groomed and mowed down.  However, things have changed.   The recent drought in California has not helped.  Now Insurance Companies have access to estimates of how likely your home is to be touched by these natural hazards.  One of the scoring methods is known as:  a Fireline score.   Another from Corelogic is the Wildfire Risk Score.  The Fireline is not the only product out there, however it is one of the better known.  It certainly seems to be the most common one that I hear of.  These risk tools basically look and study at aerial maps and take into account many factors.  The major categories that it looks at are: Fuel, Access, and Slope.  These factors include, the amount of live and dead trees, the topography, the yearly temperatures, and past fire history.  There are numerous other things taken into account.   There is really very little as a single consumer can do to change any sort of wildfire score.

Have you been told that you have a high fireline score?

Countless clients have called me having been told that they had a high fire-line score and hence their insurance was non renewed.   Unfortunately they call me with absolutely no idea what this means.  When you are told that your fireline score is too high, it means that your insurance company is no longer interested in covering your home because of the danger of wildfire.  Your past insurance company may have changed what risk homes they are willing to write.  Or your wildfire risk may have changed. Presumably Up.   It is beyond the scope of this blog post to discuss how wildfire hazards have changed.  However, know that in general that the more wood or flammable material that is out there, the worse your score is likely to be.   If you live near parkland or other wild land, you should be aware.

“your insurance company is no longer interested”

What to do when you have a high fireline score:

Shop around.   When  you have been non renewed, you will have to contact a new insurance agent.   If you are calling Captive Insurance Agents, call a few of them.  If you are contacting an Independent Agent, make sure they seem sensible and knowledgeable.   I am an independent agent, so obviously I am partial to this channel.  You do not want your policy to expire before you have a new one in place.   Let me say that again:  DO NOT LET YOUR POLICY EXPIRE before replacing it, please.

What to do with a bad wildfire score:

There is typically very little one individual can do.  You can move.  You can work to make your home more fire resistant.  Certain Roofs, Certain Siding.  You can create a defensible wild fire space around your home.  You can contact your local fire department and inquire.  Perhaps sprinklers could be added, fire alarms, etc.   Perhaps your community can band together to assist and set a different policy.    Maybe your community can work with the fire department.  Some local fire departments have programs.  These programs can range from a simple inspection to a full blown community system.  Mostly though it is something that will be out of your hands.

Wildfire and Fireline Score Conclusions:

There are two scores that properties are assigned for fire danger.   One score is based on your community fire department and your location to that department.  One based on measured wildfire risk.   A popular one that relates to wildfire is called the Fireline Score.  There are others versions.  If your home has a high fireline score, you may have trouble either procuring or renewing home insurance.  Some insurance carriers are more open to properties in higher fire risk.  Some insurance carriers are less interested in a high fireline scores.  Contact multiple captive insurance agents or an independent insurance agent.

What I Offer at Marindependent Insurance Services:

At Marindependent, I will shop your home around with the insurance carriers that I work with.   Sometimes I will engage with a few insurance companies that I have never worked with.  From experience I have a good feel for who will accept which properties.  Once all of the preferred carriers are out of consideration, we will move on to the Non Standard Home Insurers.  From there we can consider the FAIR alternative and Non Admitted Carriers.   Sometimes a Non Admitted Carrier may be your best option.  Other times a Non Standard carrier, likely that you have never heard of, will be your best conclusion.  For more information on hard to place homes consider reading: Non Standard Home Insurance.  California has lots of locations that are challenging for insurers.

Contact Marindependent for an Insurance Quote today

Marindependent Insurance Services LLC – California License 0K10734 -415-294-5454

Independent Insurance in and around Marin County
Insurance in the state of California is ruled and regulated by the California Department of Insurance.   Please speak with a licensed agent or broker in all circumstances regarding insurance. Reading about home insurance solely online is not a proper substitute.  Rules and regulations about insurance at liable to change at a moments notice.