SACRAMENTO, Calif. – As the National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings for parts of Northern California, the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) offers these important tips for residents and business owners to encourage financial preparedness:
Be Financially Prepared – Do an Insurance Check up
Regularly communicate with your insurer or agent to review your homeowners or renters insurance policy. You should also update your policy after home renovations and additions.
Make a Home Inventory
Take pictures and make a video of your home’s interior. Make lists of contents in each room. Keep receipts. Remember to video your garage and closets.
Ask Questions to Avoid Underinsurance
Ask key questions with your agent or company such as do you need building code upgrade coverage, does your policy include an automatic inflation guard or extended replacement coverage? These questions can prevent underinsurance.
Understand Your Insurance Policy
Understand what is covered under a replacement cost policy and an actual cash value policy. It is also important to understand that you must purchase earthquake and flood coverage under separate policies.
Create Defensible Space
Create a “non-combustible zone” by removing vegetation within five feet of your home, cut trees away from the roof or siding, clear rain gutters, move wood piles away from home and decks. Fire officials recommend 100 feet of defensible space. Use fire-resistant landscaping materials and plants.
“Dry, hot and windy conditions can cause dangerous wildfires, damaging homes and the environment,” said Nicole Ganley, APCIA senior public affairs director. “Wildfire prevention and preparedness also means homeowners and renters should take time to prepare their property and finances for wildfires.”
The 2017 and 2018 wildfire seasons were particularly damaging for western states. California set new records in 2018 with four wildfires that killed 88 people, charred over 19,000 structures and generated over $13 billion in insured damage.
“Fire officials say over 90 percent of wildfires are caused by humans which means 90 percent of wildfires are preventable,” said Ganley. “Regardless of the cause, all Californians should take a few minutes to get financially prepared for wildfires. Simply using a smart phone, you can video each room of your home to inventory all your personal possessions. With a quick call to your insurance agent or company, you can update your coverage. Taking a few proactive steps now can make a big difference later.”