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  • What is prescribed fire liability insurance?
    Prescribed Fire Liability Insurance is a type of General Liability policy, which protects the owner of the policy from claims for bodily injury or property damage to a third party that are a direct result of a prescribed fire that escapes due to adverse conditions or due to smoke that could cause impaired visibility on a road.
  • Are defense costs covered?
    Yes. This type of Commercial General Liability coverage has a duty to defend against claims unless or until it is clear that coverage does not apply. As an insurer, we know skilled claims professionals and attorneys in your area who would be assigned in your defense to handle such a matter.
  • Who needs prescribed fire liability insurance?
    If you are an employee of the Federal government, you are not likely to need this coverage. If you are not an employee of the Federal government and are operating as a sole practitioner or privately held corporation, you are not immune to the legal costs associated with claims or lawsuits. You should have coverage, even if only for the defense provisions.
  • Why, as a prescribed fire contractor, would I need liability insurance?"
    If you are a Prescribed Fire Contractor, the people who you perform burns for will want or may require you to carry insurance against claims for injury or property damage arising from escapes and smoke at the minimum. The fact that many contractors have apparently operated in the past without insurance is a surprise, particularly when you measure the potential financial risks associated with uninsured bodily injury or property damage claims.
  • I have not previously purchased liability insurance, why should I now?"
    As a general statement, insurance companies in the past have not raced into the market to offer prescribed fire liability insurance. Their hesitation is likely due to the nature of the exposure, the class of business or the risk of potential claims, all of which are exactly the same reasons why you should seek out such coverage written by a financially strong carrier.
  • What coverages are provided by your program?
    Prescribed Fire Liability coverage responds to claims due to third party bodily injury, property damage, personal injury and advertising injury. Also, there is a special grant of coverage for escaped fire suppression expenses incurred by others to suppress the escape, up to $10,000 per day, $100,000 aggregate.
  • What policy limits are available?
    Currently limits of up to $1,000,000 each occurrence, $2,000,000 aggregate are available.
  • Are independent contractors covered?
    Independent contractors are covered for injury or damage they may cause to a third party while they are operating under your direct supervision, but not for injury or damage which may occur to them.
  • Who is eligible to receive quotes in this program?
    Eligible applicants include experienced prescribed fire contractors with credentials such as S-190, S-290, or S-390, and qualifying conservators, landowner co-ops, nature preserves or private landowners who use prescribed fire. Also, if you are a conservator, co-op, or landowner who hires a skilled prescribed fire contractor to perform a prescribed burn for you, you are also eligible.
  • How difficult is the process to apply for the insurance?
    All applicants are required to complete a non-binding application for us to provide terms for the coverage. If you are an eligible applicant, a quote to insure your business can usually be created for you in about three to five days from the date the application is sent.
  • My prescribed fire activity is generally only part-time, heaviest in the spring and then again in Prescribed Fire Q&A the fall. I have several other operations my business is involved with. Would the insurance cover these other operations?"
    Yes. The quote will contain a list of operations for which coverage will apply. Coverage may be offered for herbicide applications, mechanical brush clearing, grassland restoration and other operations if the application is approved. If, after review of a quote, one of your operations is missing from that list, special consideration may be given to include that activity.
  • Does the insurance contain an exclusion of injury or damage due to prescribed fire smoke on the road?
  • If I am not insured for prescribed fire work, how am I at risk from smoke or from a prescribed fire “escape”, which results in injury or damage to a third party?"
    Different states assign different degrees of liability or responsibility to the person or company performing a burn. But, even in the most favorable states, if injury or damage is significant, your company’s assets are at risk and if you operate as a sole proprietorship or as a partnership, your personal assets may be at risk. If affordable coverage is available, which it now is, we recommend purchasing the coverage as an alternative to exposing your personal and corporate assets.
  • As a private landowner, I hire a prescribed fire contractor to burn a section of my property. Smoke gets out of control during a prescribed fire and causes a serious automobile accident with injuries. As the landowner, am I responsible? What steps should I take to protect myself?"
    Before you hire a prescribed fire contractor, we recommend that a certificate of insurance be obtained showing coverage similar to what we are offering above. Hypothetically, if a serious claim occurs, a loss may exhaust the limits set forth in the contractor’s policy. To the extent that a private landowner would be additionally liable would totally depend on the specific circumstances of the claim and the judicial precedents in that local area.
  • For some of my prescribed fire activity, including fire suppression, I operate as a government subcontractor. Do I have immunity from certain liabilities when I operate as such?"
    It is impossible to judge the issue of immunity from liability without seeing a copy of and knowing the content of the contract that you are signing for a particular job or assignment. Immunity may exist to some extent and could be limited on another, depending on the provisions in the contract. We believe on a general basis that immunity decreases as the likelihood of discretionary authority on job performance increases. The contract, however, will specify the extent of your discretionary authority.
  • As a private landowner, what coverage does my ranchowner/farm policy provide for prescribed fire operations?"
    A ranchowner/farm policy may provide some or complete coverage. We would not be able to judge the extent that private landowner policies cover liability for prescribed fire operations unless we thoroughly review the policy form and all coverage endorsements. As a private landowner we do, however, offer a word of caution: if you are involved with other landowners in a “cooperative” prescribed fire operation on someone else’s property, it is not likely that your personal ranch or farm policy would provide coverage for the “co-op” or you while performing at another location.
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