Tag Archives: California wildfires

I.I.I. RADIO SATELLITE MEDIA TOUR: CALIFORNIA WILDFIRES

It’s getting harder for California homeowners in fire-prone areas to buy and keep insurance.

Homeowners insurance non-renewals were on many listeners’ minds during last week’s Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) radio satellite media tour (SMT) on the aftermath of the 2017-18 California wildfires.

With 20 media outlets throughout the state participating, I.I.I. CEO Sean Kevelighan, Head of Media and Public Affairs Michael Barry, and Director of Strategic Communications Janet Ruiz were on hand to answer questions from journalists.

As the frequency and cost of California wildfires increase, it’s getting harder for homeowners in fire-prone areas to buy and keep insurance. In August 2019, the California Department of Insurance released data showing insurers are non-renewing an increasing number of residents in areas with high wildfire risk.

The guidance the I.I.I. provided to Californians faced with this dilemma included:

  • If your insurer says they won’t renew your policy, ask them to reconsider. Your situation may involve factors they don’t know about.
  • Try another insurer. The insurance market is competitive, and insurers don’t profit from not writing business. Risk appetites and underwriting vary.
  • When all else fails, California’s Fair Access to Insurance Requirements (FAIR) plan is available as an insurer of last resort, after “a diligent effort to obtain coverage in the voluntary market has been made.”

The I.I.I.’s speakers also emphasized during the SMT that property owners can make their homes more resilient to wildfires by mitigating their own risks; how California’s insurers disbursed nearly $25 billion to their customers to help them recover financially from the 2017-18 wildfires; and how state regulators are working with insurers to price accurately the risks of covering homes in wildfire-prone communities.

Within hours of I.I.I.’s SMT, California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced mandatory protections from insurance non-renewals extending into new areas of Northern and Southern California. The one-year moratorium covers residential policies in ZIP codes adjacent to recent wildfire disasters. The law cited by Commissioner Lara (Senate Bill 824) protects homeowners adjacent to a declared wildfire emergency who didn’t suffer a total loss — recognizing the disruption non-renewals cause in communities after wildfire disasters.

Below is a list of the participating radio stations and podcasters who taped the I.I.I. conversations for either broadcast or streaming in January 2020:

KCAA 1050-AM/KRLA 870-AM/KSPA 1510-AM Los Angeles/KDIA 1640-AM/KFAX 1100-AM Radio San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose “Bill Martinez Live”

Business Radio X-IND Podcast National, “The Mark Bishop Podcast”

KOCI 101.5-FM Los Angeles/Liberty Express Radio Network-AM/FM Radio Syndicated “School for Startups”

KSZL 1230-AM Radio Los Angeles “America Tonight with Kate Delaney”

KMET 1490-AM Los Angeles – KEST 1450-AM Radio San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, “Talk! With Audrey”

Transformation Talk Radio-Online Podcast National, “The Dr. Pat Show”

KVTA 1590-AM Radio Los Angeles, “The Kim Pagano Show”

KSTE 650-AM Radio Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, “The Chad Benson Show”

THE WEEK IN A MINUTE, 10/19/17

The III’s Michael Barry briefs our membership every week on key insurance related stories. Here are some highlights:

California Wildfires: What’s Next?

More than a dozen fires have burned more than 1,500 structures in Northern California, with more than a dozen dead as of Tuesday afternoon.

CNN lays down the facts:

  • More than 119,000 acres burned, much of it in wine country – Napa and Sonoma counties.
  • Fires surged behind hurricane force winds (79 mph gusts) – about the same speed as Hurricane Nate at its landfall a few days ago.
  • Nearly 35,000 are without power.
  • No rain is forecast for the next seven days.

Cat modeling firm RMS notes that the fires, taken together, are already the fifth most destructive in state history, as measured in the number of homes destroyed.

The Insurance Information Institute has background information on wildfires here.

The The Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation (IICF) has opened the IICF California Wildfire Relief Fund to assist in the growing need across the state.  To donate click here.

Our thoughts obviously are with all of the families in peril right now.

Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s California representative, notes that wildfires differ from other catastophes like hurricane or tornado, in that the loss is more likely to be a total loss — the entire home burns along with its contents. Compounding the tragedy, often that includes the receipts and other evidence of ownership that make it easy to document what has been lost.

Her other thoughts:

  • Coverage for alternative living expenses (reimbursement while waiting to return home) may be available through your insurance company. Money you spend on housing, food, clothing, etc as a result of a mandatory evacuation may be covered.
  • After you have returned, report your claim right away to your insurance company. Insurers have multiple tools available to handle claims. Many will be onsite at local assistance centers or processing claims via mobile apps, online claims, call centers and more. Call your agent if you need additional assistance. Insurance companies are also proactively reaching out to people they know are in affected areas and may have a loss.