Thursday, May 23, 2019

Impact of 2018 Wildfires on Home Insurance Rates

The steady increase in the incidence of wildfires in California over the years has seriously impacted on home insurance rates in the state. In 2018, there were over no less than 8,000 wildfires across California. The total loss caused by these fires is estimated to be in excess of $18 billion.
                                        
That kind of payout is something the insurance industry cannot afford. The only way to remain viable for them is to raise insurance premiums. This will surely impact on both businesses and homeowners.

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Premium rates expected to rise

The quantum of rise in insurance rates is not yet clear, but it may be huge. In a report issued last year, before the occurrence of the worst wildfires, the California Department of Insurance (CDI) made a prediction: homeowners who pay currently $800 a year for coverage might be charged up to $5,000.

One reason for this increase, besides the actual insurance payouts of last year, is the increasing number of homes in the Wildlife Urban Interface; these are areas, where forests and brush lands touch housing tracts. As they are both the most desired and the most vulnerable locations, the large rebuilding costs must be factored into the insurance rates.

Furthermore, builders say that labor shortages and the rise in material prices keep pushing up steadily construction costs.

Difficult to control the rise

Many residents are hopeful that the state government will be able to do something to control the rise in the rate, using the authority of the CDI. The CDI has the power to slow down the implementation of the increases, reduce them or even reject any proposed increase.

However, this is very unlikely to happen. If it were to occur, insurance companies could refuse to insure property in wildfire-prone areas or even stop selling policies in the state. Wildfires can destroy a community in a few hours. In contrast, the problem of insurance rate increases is a long drawn out one. Approval for increases can take months, and this timeframe could be extended, if citizens’ groups challenge them.

What you should do

The cost of insurance will inevitably go up. It is important that homeowners prepare themselves for this reality. The right way is to have a current valuation done of the home along with the valuables in it. The cost of major repair or even complete rebuilding must be taken into account. That is what you will have to insure your home for if you desire full protection.

There are other issues too you need to consider, for example, the cost of temporary accommodation and incidentals like food etc. if your home is not fit for occupation. Do you want your policy to cover these aspects as well? With the frequency, variety and severity of natural disasters on the increase, you do need full protection.

Contact an experienced insurance broker who has the expertise to help you though the maze of the rate increases. You need to find at the earliest the most cost-effective coverage to keep you and your family totally protected.

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