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7/16/2012 - Wildfire frequency serves as wake-up call

Wildfires are becoming a more visible threat to property.

With thousands of acres in the West scorched from wildfire damage, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America recently indicated that it is time for businesses and homeowners to ensure they are protected financially should they be impacted.

Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, told PCI that the prevalence of wildfire activity this year serves as a reminder of a significant incident in 2002 that left thousands of acres marred by fire damage, forcing some out of their homes.

"The Hayman Fire represented a significant turning point in the way fire risk was viewed in the Rocky Mountains," said Walker. "Property insurance companies consider wildfire risk a shared responsibility with homeowners and now commonly require property mitigation steps to get and keep affordable insurance if they live in a fire-prone area."

Among the things property and businessowners should do to prepare themselves is to review their insurance policy regularly, keep an updated inventory of their possessions and create a defensive space surrounding their home, which involves clearing the land of shrubbery or vegetation that's between 30 and 100 feet of their home or business.

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