Friday, March 1, 2024

Homeowners Insurance Getting Complicated

In the aftermath of a series of really bad claims cycles insurance companies have tightened their belts in the Western US. The biggest claim culprit has been wildfires particularly in California. Insurance companies are now using fire line data to determine eligibly and/or cost for insurance. Most of California, Eastern Washington, and Easter Oregon have high fire line scores that affect insurability of homes in the area. Generally homes in cities and suburbia have manageable fire scores but once you venture out in the countryside things can get dicey. 

If you are buying a home with a bank loan you will be required to have adequate homeowners insurance. This can get very expensive and your qualifying for the loan includes the cost of insurance. Flood zones will require additional flood insurance which can be expensive. If you are buying a home along a creek or river be prepared to encounter more expensive insurance and keep in mind it could affect your ability to qualify for financing.

As for the fire line ratings you can go to risk and enter your address or an address you are interested in to see the rick factors from flood, pollution, fire, etc. Fortunately here in Clark County the vast majority of homes even in the mountains are below fire rating of 6 which is the number that starts making insurance companies nervous. The scale is 1-10 with ten being severe. Here in Western Washington we have a long wet season that provides for a lot of fuel for fires, but the dry season is short enough that our fire season is pretty short. We tend to stay green for most of the year and that provides some protection from major out of control wildfires. We are by no means immune but I have't yet found an address with a rating above 5 in Clark County, let's be clear I have only run a couple of doezen dresses through the system. Up high on Rawson Road in the cascade foothills was brings 4's and 5's where as my suburban Vancouver home is a 3. Washougal River Road address were also bringing 4-5's. 

I'm not saying there are not any high risk addresses because there probably are some. But I would recommend looking into this when you are deciding to write an offer. You don't want to be blindsided by an insurance problem after you have paid for an inspection, appraisal, etc only to have to kill the deal over insurance.

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