Insurance companies offer advice for wildfire season

The Jimmy's Waterhole Fire of 2023.

The increasing cycle of wildfires in New Jersey has caught the attention of the state’s insurance companies.

“As a result of an increase in severe weather events and changing conditions that can cause disasters such as wildfires, insurers writing in New Jersey already provide coverage for wildfires through standard policies,” said Christine O’Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey. “Insurers highly recommend that policyholders take every precaution if they live or work in fire prone areas.”

“I highly encourage everyone to read their policies and contact their agent or insurer directly to confirm the level of coverage they have in the case of a wildfire,” said O’Brien.

To protect against wildfire damage, the Insurance Council of New Jersey recommends that property owners:

  • Clear every roof and deck of flammable materials such as leaves, brush, pine needles and vegetation; airborne burning embers are the main cause of homes and other structures igniting during wildfires.
  • Use Class A roofing materials if your home or building is in a wildfire prone zone.
  • Use asphalt shingles, clay or concrete tiles, metal and/or slate — all are fire-resistant materials that are rated to withstand severe fire exposure.
  • Treat wooden shingles with fire retardant or install a rooftop sprinkler system, although replacing the shingles with fire-resistant materials is preferable.
  • Perform regular roof inspections and maintenance. Embers can enter any rooftop opening, so make sure you repair or replace any broken, loose or missing shingles or tiles and caulk any cracks.
  • Prevent embers from entering your home and burning it from the inside out; box in open eaves, screen and/or seal vents and other openings. If you have a pet door, make sure it has an effective seal and keep it closed during fire season.
  • Install double-pane tempered glass windows that can withstand high temperatures — radiant heat can melt plastic skylights and cause the glass in windows and doors to crack or burst, allowing embers to enter your home.
  • Ensure all windows have screens.
  • Create a defensible space around your home or building by clearing flammables within a 100-foot radius. Radiant heat can ignite your home from up to 100 feet away, and nearby combustible material can serve as a conduit for flames to reach your home.