Firewise USA Program Benefits
Your Neighborhood can benfit from Firewise USA Recognition!
There are numerous tangible and intangible benefits for residents who live is a recognized Firewise USA site or neighborhood. Here are a few of the more important benefits:
framework for action
The Firewise USA program provides your neighbors with a framework for reducing the risk of wildfire. Meeting the criteria for becoming a Firewise USA™ site helps communities get organized and find direction for their wildfire safety efforts. Like the first rungs on a ladder, the criteria help get a community started toward annual, systematic action to reduce their risks from wildfires.
Learn about wildfire
As neighbors go through the process, they learn about wildfire risks in the community and the simple things they can do to reduce them. They connect with experts – local fire fighters, state forestry professionals, and national researchers – to continue to learn about fire and find resources to accomplish fire-safe actions.
peace of mind
People who work with experts to learn about wildfire and take action start to see results quickly. Knowing that they are using the best information available and actually taking steps to reduce the risk of damage from fire helps people start to feel safer in their environment and in their homes. Having a plan for what to do in the event of a fire helps people become calmer and more prepared to act quickly.
As neighbors get together to do work, often meeting one another for the first time, they build a stronger bond with each other. Activity can help rally people to a common cause for the good of the neighborhood. This strengthening of community ties can benefit residents in many ways, and is especially helpful during an emergency.
Build citizen pride
While the work can be fun, it isn’t always easy. Neighbors work very hard in communities to remove brush and debris, clean up common areas, and dispose of green waste. They are rightly proud when they achieve national recognition for their efforts.
The program provides communities with metal signs, a plaque and other materials that can be presented publicly to honor their status as a Firewise USA recognition site. These recognition ceremonies are great ways to shine the spotlight on community efforts. News media find this to be a great story to cover, and the national program features community stories regularly on the website and in its publications. All this publicity results not only in satisfaction for the residents involved, but also provides one more way to reach large numbers of people with information about wildfire safety.
Access to funding and assistance
Preference is sometimes given to Firewise USA sites over other candidates when allocations of grant money are made for wildfire safety or fuel mitigation. The reason is that there are invariably more requests than available funds when grants are available through state or federal agencies. If requests are equally worthy, some officials tend to have more confidence in communities that have demonstrated the foresight of becoming a recognized Firewise USA site.
Homeowners insured by USAA and the California FAIR Plan may be eligible for insurance discounts if they live in a recognized Firewise USA site. These discounts are not guaranteed, and are not administered by FIRESafe MARIN or the NFPA/Firewise USA program. Other insurers may offer these discouts as well. Contact your agent for questions.
The Departments of Insurance in seven states have approved filings by USAA to give homeowners insurance discounts to USAA members living in communities recognized by the Firewise USA™ program. This discount applies to policies issuing or renewing on the following dates in the states listed below.
- California - Policies effective on or after 10/1/2014
- Colorado - Policies effective on or after 5/30/2015
- Texas - Policies effective on or after 6/30/2015
- Arizona - Policies effective on or after 2/15/2016
- Oregon – Policies effective on or after 6/30/2016
- New Mexico - Policies effective on or after 1/1/2017
- Utah - Policies effective on or after 1/5/2017
What is USAA?
The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to more than 10 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.
What is the discount?
To reward USAA members and encourage more residents of wildfire risk areas to take safety steps, USAA is providing a discount on the homeowner’s insurance premium for its members who live in communities recognized by the Firewise USA program – in states that USAA is approved to offer the discount.
How do I become eligible for the discount?
If you are a current USAA member living in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas or Utah, you must reside within the boundaries of a recognized Firewise USA site to qualify for the discount. In these states that have approved USAA’s discount, USAA homeowners policy holders living in a recognized Firewise USA community will automatically receive the discount at their first renewal following the discount’s effective date. New USAA policies for homes in recognized communities also qualify for the discount, but homes must meet USAA’s underwriting standards before a new USAA policy can be issued. USAA has partnered with Firewise USA to automatically determine if a home is located in a recognized community. The website has a list of the recognized communities or you may speak to a USAA representative to find out if you qualify. Residents need to know the name of their subdivision or community. If your community is not a recognized community, the website also provides information on how to start the recognition process.
I’m not a USAA member. Does my insurance company provide this discount?
To date, USAA is the first large insurance company to provide a specific discount to residents of Firewise USA sites. You can speak with your insurance agent to find out if your insurer offers any discounts or other incentives for wildfire safety. Residents of these states who are not USAA members should contact their insurance company regarding any wildfire discounts or other safety programs.
Is USAA going to make this discount available to its members who live in other states?
USAA intends to pursue this discount for its members living in states with significant wildfire risks. To do so, the company must file for a rate change with each state’s Department of Insurance for approval or notification. When those filings take place they are typically a matter of public record and NFPA will be keeping its website up to date on this topic.
I’ve done Firewise mitigation work on my home, does that make me eligible for a discount?
Congratulations on taking steps to better protect your home. USAA believes community-level action is important and provides the discount to members in participating communities to reward actions taken at the community level, rather than singling out individual properties. USAA offers other wildfire related products and services to its members; please contact USAA for more information. If you have done work on your property, and would like to significantly reduce the risk of wildfire loss in your community, please talk to your neighbors about joining with you to start the Firewise USA recognition process.
Why is the discount for Firewise USA instead of other programs?
The Firewise USA program has national scope and consistent criteria for recognition. NFPA has collected and maintained data on all participating communities since 2002, including data that specifies the exact location boundaries for each community. USAA’s research also found a favorable difference in loss experience for members who live in Firewise USA communities. USAA chose Firewise USA based on NFPA’s expertise and experience in the community wildfire prevention and feels this program best aligns with its wildfire strategy.