Here's how 'fire scores' can impact your homeowner's insurance

Tuesday, September 1, 2020
'Fire scores' play role in insurance coverage, rates
Fire scores are similar to credit scores, but measure the likelihood of fire danger for your home.

GROVELAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The Moc fire forced more than a thousand households to evacuate from Groveland near Yosemite.

Among them Susie Williams who is now safe and back in her home.

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"Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. we were allowed to return," she tells me. "So it was about five days."

On this day Williams and I are talking about the always hot topic in Groveland: fire insurance.

"My neighbors all have the same problem I do," Williams says. "In that every year people go through the same dance."

That "dance" is finding an insurance company that will cover their homes for fire. When Williams bought her home six years ago, she says, the original owners were paying $1,100 a year. Williams is now paying around $3,000, a near-tripling of her rate.

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"It was not a gradual climb," Williams says. "It was very steep. All of a sudden, yes, you have got to pay a lot more for your insurance."

The area is seen as more likely to burn. Insurance companies subscribe to services that create "wildfire scores."

Amy Bach heads up the consumer group United Policy Holders. "There is something called a fire line score. (It) is similar to a credit score. So a private company developed this tool and they are selling it to insurance companies," she says.

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Following the LNU Lightning Complex fires, a sign reading "Vaca Strong" adorns a charred hillside in Vacaville, Calif., on Monday, Aug. 24, 2020.
AP Photo/Noah Berger

Two of the big players in this space are Verisk and CoreLogic, both look at the fire danger facing the home.

"What it does is score a house by slope, fuels and access to a fire station," Bach explains.

Is it on a hillside? What could burn next to the home, and how far away are firefighters?

How do you find out your score? Ask your insurance agent.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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