Wildfires: How to Protect Your Rental Property and Weather Market Impact

Discover how wildfires impact rental property values and how wildfire insurance offers a safety net for real estate investors in high-risk zones.

Gemma Smith
Last Updated
June 23, 2023
Wildfires: How to Protect Your Rental Property and Weather Market Impact

Wildfires have become a recurring menace, their increasing frequency and intensity posing significant risks to people and properties across the globe. The escalating threat is not limited to homeowners, but also extends to rental property owners and real estate investors. Fueled by a changing climate and years of fire suppression practices, the ferocity of these fires can result in severe physical damage, displacement of tenants, and in some instances, total property loss.

The potential impact of wildfires on the rental market is substantial, from a significant change in rental prices in fire-prone regions to temporary market destabilization due to displaced tenants. Investors must adapt their strategies to incorporate a nuanced understanding of these risks and the protective measures to mitigate them.

In the upcoming sections, we will delve deeper into the impacts of wildfires on the rental market and how Azibo can help you protect your properties effectively.

The impact of wildfires on the rental market

The last decade has seen a sharp increase in the frequency and intensity of wildfires globally. This rise has been especially noticeable in regions with a Mediterranean climate, such as California, Oregon, and Washington — where extended dry seasons coupled with high winds create ideal conditions for wildfires. According to data from CalFire, the total number of wildfires in California alone has been consistently high in the past years, with a marked increase in size and severity.

The repercussions on property values and rental rates

Wildfires can drastically affect property values and rental rates. Properties in high-risk areas may see a dip in value due to the increased risk of damage or total loss. Simultaneously, rental rates can surge in the aftermath of a major wildfire event due to an acute shortage of habitable properties. This was evident in the wake of the 2018 Camp Fire in California, where the scarcity of livable housing led to a steep rent rise, as Zillow reported.

Impact on insurance premiums for property owners

The growing threat of wildfires has had a noticeable impact on insurance premiums for real estate investors. Insurers are increasingly wary of providing coverage in fire-prone regions, leading to higher premium rates. In some extreme cases, insurers have even declined to renew or write policies in high-risk areas. This makes finding affordable coverage for rental properties a significant challenge. However, Azibo's innovative insurance solutions can help property owners find comprehensive coverage that fits within their budget, ensuring your investment is protected.

Influence of wildfires on tenant behavior and rental demand

The increased frequency of wildfires can influence tenant behavior and rental demand. Tenants may become more selective, preferring properties that demonstrate robust fire protection measures. At the same time, rental demand can fluctuate following major wildfire events. In the short term, demand can increase due to displaced persons seeking temporary housing. However, in the long term, repeated wildfires could lead to a population exodus from high-risk areas, potentially reducing rental demand.

Various areas in the US have seen dramatic impacts from wildfires on their rental markets. One prime example is the wildfires of 2020 in Oregon, which caused a surge in rental rates. This was triggered by an uptick in demand from residents displaced by the fires, as documented by CoreLogic, a property data and analytics company. This underscores the need for landlords to ensure sufficient property protection and adjust their strategies in response to shifts in the market landscape.

Protecting your rental property from wildfires

Understanding the wildfire risk for your property is the first step in safeguarding your investment. Numerous online resources, such as the Fire Hazard Severity Zone Maps provided by CalFire, can help you assess your property's risk level. These resources offer insights into the history of wildfires in the area, the vegetation density, and the regional weather patterns — all crucial factors influencing wildfire risk.

Ensuring the safety of your property in the face of a wildfire involves proactive steps. Here are three key steps to consider:

1. Designing defensible space around the property

Creating a defensible space around your property is an essential preventive measure. This involves clearing away dead vegetation and spacing trees and shrubs at safe intervals to slow fire spread. For more detailed guidelines, refer to CalFire's recommendations on creating defensible space.

2. Utilizing fire-resistant materials for construction and landscaping

Investing in fire-resistant construction materials and landscaping can significantly enhance your property's resilience against wildfires. This can involve using fire-resistant roofing materials, installing dual-paned windows, or choosing fire-resistant plants for your landscaping. The University of California's guide on fire-resistant landscaping provides an excellent starting point.

3. Regular property maintenance to mitigate fire risk

Regular property maintenance is essential for minimizing fire risk. This includes tasks such as regularly cleaning roof gutters, maintaining a safe distance between trees and power lines, and keeping lawns watered and mowed.

4. Communicate evacuation plans with tenants

A clear evacuation plan is vital to ensuring tenant safety in the event of a wildfire. This involves mapping out multiple exit routes, establishing a safe meeting point, and keeping an updated list of emergency contact numbers. Regular communication with tenants about these plans is essential. Real estate investors should also provide tenants information on the Ready, Set, Go! program by CalFire, which offers comprehensive guidelines on wildfire preparedness and evacuation.

For more tips on protecting your real estate investments during wildfire season, read our Guide to Wildfire Insurance for Rental Properties.

Wildfire insurance: An essential safeguard for landlords

In an era of intensifying wildfires, securing robust wildfire insurance coverage is increasingly essential for real estate investors. This kind of coverage provides a financial safety net if a rental property suffers damage or destruction from wildfire. Property owners may face massive out-of-pocket expenses for repairs and replacements without adequate coverage, potentially disrupting their rental business.

Understanding the scope of typical policies

While many homeowner insurance policies offer some level of wildfire coverage, it's important for investors to thoroughly understand what their policy includes and excludes. Standard policies typically cover the home's structure, personal property, and liability. However, they may not cover additional structures like sheds or detached garages. There might also be limits on coverage for expensive items. Certain damages, like those from smoke or ash, may only be partially covered. Always read the fine print and consider consulting with an insurance professional to grasp your coverage fully.

Special considerations for properties in high-risk areas

Properties located in high-risk wildfire zones may face additional challenges when securing insurance coverage. Some insurance companies may decline coverage entirely, while others may charge higher premiums. Property investors in these areas may need to explore options like the California FAIR Plan, which provides basic fire insurance coverage for high-risk properties.

Why real estate investors should consider additional coverage

Aside from standard coverage, landlords should consider additional coverage to ensure their rental business remains financially stable after a wildfire. For instance, Loss of rent coverage can compensate landlords for lost rental income during covered repairs. Umbrella insurance provides additional liability coverage beyond the limits of a standard policy, protecting real estate investors from major legal claims or lawsuits.

Navigating wildfire insurance with Azibo

Azibo offers comprehensive and tailored wildfire insurance that specifically caters to landlords' needs. Recognizing that each property and market carries unique risks and requirements, we provide customized insurance solutions that match real estate investors’ specific circumstances. Our insurance offerings are designed to address the varying degrees of wildfire risk, allowing you to feel secure even in the face of increasing wildfire threats.

Securing the right policy at the right price

Price is a key consideration when choosing an insurance policy, and Azibo balances affordability with comprehensive coverage. We leverage our vast network of insurance providers and in-depth understanding of the insurance landscape to secure competitive rates, so investors get maximum protection without breaking the bank. Furthermore, our dedicated customer support team is always on hand to assist with your queries and concerns, providing guidance every step of the way. 

The importance of wildfire risk mitigation

As wildfires become increasingly common in the US, understanding and mitigating their risks is a top priority for real estate investors. The impact on the rental market is significant, influencing property values, rental rates, insurance premiums, and tenant behaviors. But with due diligence and proactive measures, landlords can protect their rental properties from devastating losses.

The importance of insurance can't be overstated. A carefully chosen insurance policy can offer a financial safety net, compensating for property damage and potential loss of rent in the event of a wildfire. For properties in high-risk areas, having robust insurance coverage is a cornerstone of a sound risk management strategy.

Azibo is a valuable ally in navigating the complex world of wildfire insurance. Our comprehensive insurance offerings are designed to provide optimal coverage at competitive prices. We are here to ensure that your investments remain secure and profitable, no matter what challenges nature throws your way.

If you're a landlord looking for the right wildfire insurance coverage at the right price, contact Azibo today at (855) 920-5152 or
click here to request a free quote and learn more about how we can help you.

Azibo Insurance Services LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Azibo Inc, is a licensed insurance producer. Contact us to discuss your specific insurance needs.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this post does not, and is not intended to, constitute insurance advice; instead, all information, content, and materials are for general informational purposes only. This content may not constitute the most up-to-date insurance information. Readers must contact a licensed insurance agent or company to obtain quotes, advice, and guidance with respect to any insurance matter. No reader, user, or browser of this article should act or refrain from acting on the basis of information herein without first seeking the advice of a licensed insurance producer.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Gemma Smith

With 7 years in property management, Gemma serves as a key content strategist at Azibo.com. While excelling in writing, editing, and SEO, she also enhances Azibo's social media presence. Passionately, Gemma educates others to make informed real estate investment decisions in the ever-changing market.

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