Wildfire mitigation efforts not only can save a business owner’s property, they can lower their insurance costs.
“[Mitigation efforts] can absolutely help lower insurance premiums,” said Bobbie Baca, director of consumer affairs property and casualty for the Colorado Division of Insurance.
Each insurance company has its own wildfire mitigation perimeters, which should be outlined for customers in their policy.
“It depends on which company — they are all a little different — but typically they want about 100 feet cleared from the house or property,” said Sharanne Rothenbucher, the marketing and education coordinator for ALINK Insurance Services. “No wood piles can be within 25 feet of a building. You can’t have hay bails laying around the house and no [tree] limbs going over buildings at all.”
Colorado State Wildfire Services defines mitigation measures as “on-the-ground treatments of forested properties implemented to reduce the threat of wildfire.”
It’s the state’s head agency in fuels mitigation expertise in addition to acting as a resource for residents seeking more information to decrease the threat of wildfire to their property.
According to the agency, more than 2 million Coloradans live in the wildland-urban interface, which “is any area where man-made improvements are built close to, or within, natural terrain and flammable vegetation, and where high potential for wildland fire exists.”
Detailed wildfire mitigation actions are available at csfs.colostate.edu/wildfire-mitigation.
In April, the Colorado Division of Insurance issued a wildfire consumer advisory, said Vincent Plymell, communications manager for the agency.
“We knew it had been a dry winter and the predictions were for a dry, hot summer,” he said. “We sent out some information about mitigation with some tips residents can do, but we also recommended they look to their local officials for specific information to their area.”
Plymell said Boulder County leads the nation in developing a municipality-wide wildfire mitigation certification program.
“A number of communities in Colorado and in the U.S. are looking at that county in terms of a certification for mitigation initiative,” he said. “Part of what it does is works with insurance companies to develop signs that allows firefighters to know which properties have been mitigated and where they should focus their efforts.”
Meanwhile, the state also allows “individuals, estates and trusts” to claim a subtraction on their Colorado income tax return for costs incurred doing wildfire mitigation measures.
Depending on the tax year, the subtraction is equal to 50 percent or 100 percent of the “qualifying costs” for performing wildfire mitigation with an annual maximum subtraction of $2,500.
Visit the Colorado Department of Revenue’s website at colorado.gov/revenue for more information on tax subtractions.