It doesn’t seem like long ago we were hit with one of the most devastating droughts in North Texas history. Lakes were squeezed nearly dry, the landscape was singed from the relentless sun, and ranchers in Palo Pinto County and rural North Texas had to spend their days hauling drinking water around for all of their cattle. The harsh conditions created a dangerous environment for the entire area, and with little irrigation, fires were bound to happen. We will never forget the Possum Kingdom Lake fires of 2011, which tore through more than 126,000 acres and caused damage or total loss to 168 homes.
Though the conditions seemed dire, it’s amazing to see how the area has recovered since then. Our lakes are now full, and our landscape has returned to the lush, green pastures that we’ve all grown to love as our water tables continue to rise. But, with these thick green fields come potential risks.
This year we have experienced exceptional rainfall totals. This is beneficial in countless ways, but also creates a danger with dense vegetation. Whether the grass reaches dormancy from hotter and drier conditions later this summer, or this fall when it cools, the fire exposure remains. Last year our county experienced another large fire, The Surprise Fire, which damaged over 5,000 acres. Though the grass seems greener this year, things can turn very quickly. Are you prepared?
Is my insurance protecting my assets?
Are all insurance policies the same when it comes to protecting your property from wildfires? The rural properties in our Palo Pinto County and surrounding areas present a much higher risk of loss, because our area consists of countless farm and ranch properties, recreational properties, and homeowners enjoying the beauty our area offers. Most insurance policies are going to protect your home from fire damage, but what about all of your other assets?
If you’re not sure, then it’s time to have a conversation with your insurance agent to make sure that everything which is valuable to you is covered in your policies. When talking to your agent, here are four points you will want to address.
- Separate Structures
All policies are not the same when it comes to insuring your barns, well houses, fences, and other detached structures on your property. If you have structures on your property, make sure that they are all covered from fire damage. In case of a disaster, you’ll want to make sure that not only do you have a roof over your head, but your animals do too. Policy coverages range from actual cash value to replacement cost, the type of peril insured against, cosmetic damage exclusions, and more.
- Your machinery and recreational vehicles
Typically, these exposures need to be scheduled or have their own standalone policy — but, when adding coverage, make sure you understand how your policy works. Is your new Kubota Tractor insured through a home endorsement? If you have a $700,000 home with a 1% deductible and your tractor is in a pasture that burns, you may be shocked to find yourself hit with a $7,000 deductible if you file a claim. All policies are different regarding their structure and deductibles, so make sure you have a thorough talk with your agent so that you understand how your policy is set up.
- Horses and Livestock
If you are a cattle rancher, your livestock is your livelihood. Let’s say you are running 30 pairs and two bulls on your 380-acre pasture, and a fire breaks out. Fire moves as quickly as the wind can take it, so a 30 or 40 mile an hour wind is likely to spread the fire faster than your livestock can run. The risk of losing $54,000 is very real. Thankfully, insuring your livestock is less expensive than you may think, and the coverage options are broad. In addition to livestock, horses are another investment one may consider insuring. Many farm and ranch policies offer beneficial coverages to protect our friends in the agriculture industry.
- Loss of Income
What happens after a large loss when your business, machinery, livestock, and structures are in ashes? Who pays the bills while you begin to rebuild your life? A great Farm and Ranch policy will have your back. If built correctly, you will have instant funds to rent the equipment and storage needed to begin working again. You will also be made whole again with business interruption insurance.
Other special programs that can assist
There are many other points to consider when insuring your rural property, so don’t try to figure it out on your own. Having an experienced, trained agent that has access to multiple insurance companies will provide you with a tailored product to protect you, your family, and agribusiness.
Insurance companies are also advancing regarding the value they bring to their clients. At Trophy Insurance Solutions, one of our favorite companies when insuring homeowners in rural areas is Safeco, a Liberty Mutual company. If you are one of their policyholders, you can sign up for wildfire protection services. Safeco’s Wildfire Defense Team is not a public fire department, but a team of firefighters whose purpose is to protect their policyholder’s property in the event of a wildfire.
How it works
The Wildfire Defense Program can provide crews to remove overgrown vegetation, fuel tanks or trash from the property. They may also use temporary sprinkler systems or fire engines and, in some situations, will apply fire-blocking gel to protect homes.
To offer this program, Safeco is contracted with Wildfire Defense Systems, Inc., which maintains a map of Safeco’s policies-in-force within the program footprint and provides Safeco with reports and recommendations during a wildfire. If Safeco makes a decision to trigger the response service for a particular event, Wildfire Defense Systems crews will work with government responders to provide extra mitigation support for eligible Safeco policyholders.
Availability and eligibility
The Wildfire Defense Program is available only to Safeco customers with homeowners or Landlord Protection® policies in designated high-risk wildfire locations in Arizona. Renters and condo policies are not included in the program.
When the wildfire response service is triggered, Safeco’s “Callout Team” from the Claims Service Center will contact eligible policyholders to explain the program and offer enrollment. Each time Safeco’s Callout Team contacts one of your policyholders about enrollment, we will also notify you.
More information and resources
The Wildfire Defense Program Agent FAQ can help you answer questions from your customers. If you have questions, please contact Safeco’s Callout Team at:
Note: Due to the unpredictable nature of wildfire, limitations of resources, safety considerations and instructions from federal, state and local fire officials, there may be instances in which Safeco and Wildfire Defense Systems may not be able to provide these services. Safeco Insurance and its representatives will use commercially reasonable efforts to provide these services. If services are provided, there is no guarantee that these services will prevent damage.
We can help you
Trophy Insurance Solutions in Mineral Wells represents several great carriers that specialize in farm and ranch properties and rural homes. A couple of our favorites are Chubb Agribusiness, Safeco, and Nationwide Farm and Ranch, the nation’s #1 insurer in the agriculture industry. Not only do we have a number of carriers to help ensure you have the correct policy, but we can offer experience and advice which comes from being locals to Mineral Wells and North Texas.
When looking to make sure your livelihood is protected, make sure you have an agent who understands the risks you face, has the expertise to create a custom policy, and options to make sure you get coverage that fits your needs. Trophy Insurance Solutions specializes in protecting landowners across Texas and Oklahoma, both large and small. Tailored coverage, options, value, and impeccable service is what you will find when doing business with Trophy Insurance Solutions.