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Property Insurance Roundtable

Wildfires

03.07.2017

According to the National Park Service, “as many as 90% of wildfires in the U.S. are caused by humans, resulting from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes, and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10% are started by natural phenomena, such as lightning or lava.” Regardless of the actual cause, wildfires can be devastating.

The Insurance Information Institute reports that “the 2015 fire season set a new record for the number of acres burned in the U.S. Between January 1st and December 30th there were 68,151 wildfires, which burned 10,125,149 acres according to the National Interagency Fire Center.” Over the 20-year period 1995-2014, fires, including wildfires, accounted for 1.5% of insured catastrophe losses totaling $6 billion dollars, according to the Property Claims Services Unit of ISO.

During today’s discussion, we will explore the important areas of risk management and property insurance that must be addressed, to be prepared for the destruction that can be caused by future wildfires.

Key Takeaways

  • [03:04] What is a wildfire, how do wildfires start, and which areas of the U.S. are impacted the most?
  • [04:13] What is a wildfire hazard zone, and how can policyholders find out if they live in one, and how best to assess their risk?
  • [04:50] Are wildfire insurance claims different from other fire insurance claims? Are the rules and restrictions the same?
  • [05:34] How can a property be compromised if subjected to a wildfire?
  • [06:52] What are things home and business owners can do, to prepare for a disaster such as a wildfire, for easier claims processing?
  • [07:40] Does a standard insurance policy include coverages to assist those affected by an emergency situation?
  • [08:42] What options exist under Additional Living Expenses (ALE) coverage?
  • [10:26] For renters of apartments, condos, etc., what are their responsibilities, and what are the responsibilities of the building manager, in a wildfire situation? Also, what type of insurance coverage do they need in order to be fully reimbursed?
  • [11:41] What extra coverages should homeowners have added to their policy, in order to mitigate any and all risk?
  • [12:42] What extra coverages should business owners have added to their policy, in order to mitigate any and all risk?
  • [14:16] After a wildfire occurs, contractors are in high demand. How does this affect construction cost?
  • [15:02] What are the biggest hurdles in establishing building valuations post-wildfire? And, what can be done in advance to overcome these hurdles?
  • [16:15] What steps can home and business owners take to help recreate lost personal property?
  • [17:55] Examples of real life wildfire claims.
  • [19:10] What challenges exist when dealing with carriers, due to the volume of claims post-wildfire?
  • [20:10] What about debris removal, county-sponsored authorized companies, and how they affect recovery?
  • [21:48] What actions should a policyholder take, immediately following damage from a wildfire?
  • [23:16] What is meant by ‘rule of thumb’ values, and why some valuations don’t apply in post-disaster environments?
  • [24:26] Who is available to assist policyholders to become familiar with the ins and outs of their insurance policies?
  • [25:57] The panel shares expert advice regarding wildfire insurance claims.

Panelists

Bruce Tibert Headshot
Bruce Tibert
Professional Public Insurance Adjuster