For business owners who own their business location, protection from wildfire damage boils down to their insurance policy. We can certainly help you review your policy and update it, if necessary, to ensure that your building and contents are adequately covered.
For the business owner who leases their space, things get a little more complicated. The first thing you should do is carefully review your leasing agreement, to make sure both you and the landlord are complying with all fire safety and insurance agreements. Commercial leases can vary, but most split these responsibilities between the landlord and tenant.
The state of California does set forth strict guidelines regarding commercial leases. For example, your landlord must comply with all current building codes, and these regulations can include fire safety measures.
On the other hand, maintenance and repairs are generally the responsibility of the tenant. This might include maintenance of your smoke detectors and sprinkler system, or removal of hazardous materials that can increase your odds of a fire.
As for insurance, landlords must carry appropriate commercial property insurance on all the structures they own. These insurance policies often cover contents of the building, but can be limited. If you own expensive business equipment or items that are difficult to replace, it would be wise to consider your own insurance coverage for those items.
Injuries can also result from fires, although hopefully the building will be evacuated long before this is a possibility. Your landlord can only be held responsible for on-site injuries if it can be proven that their negligence (in upholding legal responsibilities) is what caused the injury or death. This is unlikely to be the case with wildfires, as they are a natural event that is usually not preventable.
With wildfires all around us, this would be a good time to review your lease, identify your rights and responsibilities, and make a plan for the worst-case scenario. In particular, give us a call so we can talk about your insurance needs. We want to make sure your business is covered against fires and other natural disasters.