Westwood President Discusses Wildfire Preparation


“With an office in Los Angeles County, many Westwood team members have had to evacuate at some point due to wildfires. So, we understand firsthand the concern many of our policyholders face, and are here to help” said Alan Umaly, President of Westwood Insurance Agency.

Through early August, there were nearly 40,000 wildfires, compared to 34,000 in the same period in 2020, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. About 3.6 million acres were burned, up from 2.3 million in 2020. Weather conditions are also elongating the wildfire season. What was once a four-month fire season now lasts six to eight months.

“Our customers often ask how to protect their home and property from wildfires,” said Umaly. “My advice is always to have a plan and take action early.”

Tips for wildfire preparation


  • Regularly remove all debris (leaves, pine needles, etc.) from roofs, decks, fence lines and patios.
  • Cull trees to keep at least a 10-foot separation from the building.


  • Trim trees and plants of dead branches.
  • Maintain tree branches and shrubs so they are 5 feet from the building.
  • Trim branches so they are 6 feet above the ground.
  • Keep lawns mowed.


  • Remove mulch and combustible ground cover within 5 feet of the building.
  • Rake leaves, needles and other plant debris

Screen and seal:

  • Use ember resistant vents on roofs, eaves and foundation vents to help prevent ember penetration into attics and crawlspaces.
  • Have spark arrestors on chimneys.

Store away:

  • Remove outside furniture and highly flammable plants, such as eucalyptus.
  • Store propane tanks in protected locations.


  • Have an emergency kit prepared with things such as medications, flashlights, pet food, blankets, contact numbers and insurance documents.

Wildfires and home insurance

“Damage from wildfires is usually covered in your home insurance,” said Umaly. “I recommend reviewing your policy with your agent annually to make sure you’re adequately protected.”

Regularly check your coverage limits to factor in any home updates, additions or new outside structures. Also, be sure your home is covered for the estimated replacement cost. This is generally determined by the average cost contractors in your area would charge to rebuild your specific home. With the construction market booming, your property’s replacement cost has likely increased.

Finally, take an inventory of your personal items. Typically, a percentage of your dwelling amount is used for your personal property coverage and you’ll want to pay attention to limitations on items such as jewelry and electronics.

Contact a Westwood agent to review your policy details.