News Releases

Lack of Preparedness Puts Homeowners Living in Wildfire-Prone Areas at Risk
ACE Private Risk Services’ Twelve-Step Guide Helps Families Protect their Homes
Dec 4, 2009

PHILADELPHIA--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ACE Private Risk Services®, part of the ACE Group, today reported that owners of high value homes in wildfire-prone areas are at risk of fire damage due to failure to address twelve important issues as outlined in the company’s Wildfire Safety and Preparedness program for its ACE Platinum Portfolio® policyholders.

As part of the program, independent fire safety experts visited California homes in high-risk locations and used the guidelines to develop a plan for the owners to reduce the vulnerability of their family and home to wildfires. These guidelines, along with the percentage of homes visited that met each during the initial visit, are:

  1. Install flame- and ember-resistant vent covers (0%).
  2. Use fire-resistant paint on all exterior walls (2%).
  3. Trim tree branches to clear walls, siding, or decks by at least 10 feet (6%).
  4. Move combustible material 30 feet away from the structure or store it indoors (21%).
  5. Maintain vertical clearance between tops of shrubs and bottom branches of trees at no less than three times the height of the shrubs (23%).
  6. Trim tree limbs so no branch on tall trees is closer than six feet from the ground (24%).
  7. Install seismic gas shut-off valves (32%).
  8. Space trees and shrubs to provide proper horizontal clearance. Shrubs should be at least twice as far apart as they are high on flat or mild slopes; double the distance on steeper slopes. Tree crowns should be up to 18 feet apart, depending on their proximity to the home; double the distance on steeper slopes (34%).
  9. Eliminate open voids on the roof, under the garage, and around windows (34%).
  10. Trim dead or dying branches from trees and shrubs (48%).
  11. Clear surface litter around the home (82%).
  12. Mow grass to four inches or less (91%).

While most homeowners had cleared litter and tall grass, the vast majority still had work to do on the other guidelines. Homes that follow the ACE Private Risk Services guidelines are less prone to be damaged in wildfires. They often do not require spraying and other last-minute measures, thus making it easier for families to focus on evacuating safely.

“We are very conscious of family safety in addition to property protection for our clients,” said Gary Raphael, Senior Vice President of Claims and Risk Consulting at ACE Private Risk Services. “That is why we have designed the Wildfire Safety and Preparedness program to include the development of a thorough evacuation plan for the family. We’ll even help them rehearse fire drills.”

For the complete safety guidelines, please click here ( Also provided is the percentage of homes that met the guidelines, according to the wildfire safety experts’ evaluation.

About the ACE Platinum Portfolio

ACE Private Risk Services designed the ACE Platinum Portfolio personal insurance program to meet the unique needs of affluent and high net worth individuals and families. In California, homeowners often have high value homes in scenic locations where wildfires represent a substantial threat. High value homes insured by the ACE Platinum Portfolio policy receive a complimentary home and safety assessment by a risk consultant. If this review reveals at least a moderate exposure to wildfire, the home will be evaluated for inclusion in the special Wildfire Safety and Preparedness Program. The ACE Platinum Portfolio program also provides specialized coverage for automobiles, watercraft, jewelry and other valuables, and excess liability protection with a package discount and, in most cases, the convenience of one bill.

About ACE Private Risk Services

ACE Private Risk Services is the high net worth personal lines business of ACE Group, which provides specialty coverage for homeowners, automobile, recreational marine, umbrella liability, and collections insurance for affluent individuals and families. Headed by ACE Limited (NYSE: ACE), the ACE Group’s core operating insurance companies are rated A+ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company and A+ (Strong) by Standard & Poor’s. The ACE Group provides insurance and reinsurance for a diverse group of clients around the world. To learn more about the ACE Group of Companies, please visit:


ACE Group
Media Contact:
Carla L. Ferrara, 215-640-4744