Under regulations implemented by the California Department of Insurance in 2022, insurers, when pricing policies, are now required to take into account homeowners’ efforts to harden their properties as well as local communities’ efforts to reduce their overall wildfire threat.

The regulations were implemented to provide rate relief to homeowners who live in wildfire-prone areas and keep their coverage. When quoting policies in high-risk areas, the rules require insurers to provide written notification to policyholders that explains the details of how it rates the property’s wildfire risk, including:

  • The potential range of risk classifications and discounts.
  • How the insurer rates the property’s risk, and why it’s classified that way.
  • Mitigation actions the policyholder can take to improve their wildfire risk and how much the policyholder could save on their insurance premium for implementing each action.


As part of this regulation and to help homeowners improve their property’s wildfire risk ratings, the Department of Insurance created the “Safer from Wildfires” program. It lists all of the

improvements people can make to their properties to qualify for an insurance discount.

This program is a ground-up approach to wildfire resilience focused on three areas of protection:

  • The structure itself,
  • The structure’s immediate surroundings, and
  • Local efforts to harden the community as a whole against wildfires.


Ten ways to reduce your premium

Every action under Safer from Wildfires qualifies property owners for an insurance discount. Here are the main things you can do to earn discounts:

Use a Class-A fire rated roof — Most roofs qualify, including asphalt shingles, concrete, brick or masonry tiles, and metal shingles or sheets. Wood-shake shingles are not Class A fire-resistant rated. The Office of the State Fire Marshal maintains a list of tested and approved materials.

Have a 5-foot ember-resistant zone, including fencing — Removing greenery and replacing wood chips with stone or decomposed granite 5 feet around your home prevents fire from getting a foot in the door. Replacing wood fencing connecting to your home with metal is critical because it can act like a candle wick leading fire straight to your structure.Install ember- and fire-resistant vent — Installing 1/16 to 1/8 inch noncombustible, corrosion-resistant metal mesh screens over exterior vents can keep wind-blown embers out of your house.

Ensure 6 inches of space at the bottom of exterior walls — Having a minimum of 6 vertical inches measured from the ground up and from any attached horizontal surface like a deck can stop embers from accumulating and igniting your walls. Noncombustible materials include brick, stone, fiber-cement siding or concrete.

Use enclosed eaves — Installing soffits under your eaves can prevent heat and embers from getting trapped and igniting. When enclosing eaves, non-combustible or ignition-resistant materials are recommended.

Upgrade the windows — Multi-paned windows are more resistant to breaking during a wildfire, which helps keep flames from entering. Multi-paned glass or added shutters all qualify.

Clear vegetation, weeds and debris from under decks — Clear anything combustible from the area and use noncombustible materials like concrete, gravel or bare soil.

Move combustible sheds and other outbuildings to at least a distance of 30 feet — These include sheds, gazebos, accessory dwelling units, open covered structures with a solid roof, dog houses and playhouses.

Comply with defensible space laws — Follow state and local laws requiring defensible space, including trimming trees and removing brush and debris from the yard. See CAL FIRE’s defensible space page and your local city or county for details.

Work with your community — Discounts are available to homeowners in communities that have taken steps to harden the community. Safer from Wildfires recognizes two community-wide programs: Firewise USA and Fire Risk Reduction Communities.

Both of these programs certify localities that have taken steps to set up committees comprised of locals and their fire departments to identify risks and implement steps to make their communities safer from wildfires.

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