Did You Know Wildfires Increase Your Risk of Flooding?

Did You Know Wildfires Increase Your Risk of Flooding?

This winter has been a bad one for fires. Earlier in the winter wildfires raged across Northern California and decimated thousands of acres, and at the moment, Southern California is facing a similar situation. Like most natural disasters, wildfires typically appear with little warning, and the dry, hot conditions in the area are conducive to spreading quickly. Natural disaster insurance in the form of wildfire/brush fire insurance isn’t a bad idea if you live in California – particularly the hot, dry areas in and around Santa Clarita. However, simply covering yourself with natural disaster insurance in the case of a fire may not be enough, as the threat that wildfires pose isn’t just related to its flames. When wildfires move through an area, the odds of a flash flood occurring there increase dramatically, even in areas not typically prone to floods. Under normal conditions, vegetation absorbs water from precipitation and prevents runoff. When a wildfire moves through an area, it consumes vegetation and leaves the ground charred and unable to absorb water. Thus, conditions are created in which flash floods and mudslides are increasingly likely. Southern California is known for a lot of things, but not for its rainfall. That being said, when the ground has been burned and the landscape altered due to a wildfire, even a moderate amount of rain higher up in the surrounding mountains can cause flash floods and mudslides. According to FEMA, the area remains in a higher flood risk for about 5 years, or until vegetation can grow back and the ground can return to normal. The unpredictability of natural disasters means that...
Your Guide to Buying Earthquake Insurance

Your Guide to Buying Earthquake Insurance

Earthquake insurance is a type of natural disaster insurance that anyone can use, but some more than most. It’s possible to experience an earthquake anywhere in the country, but as many of you know, certain places (like California), are more earthquake prone than others. Around here, earthquakes happen all the time, but most aren’t very big. Unfortunately, earthquakes can be devastating, and being protected by earthquake insurance can be a life saver when one strikes. Where to Buy Earthquake Insurance The State of California requires home insurance companies to provide earthquake insurance, but it doesn’t require that residents purchase it. As such, checking with your homeowners insurance carrier is one place to start. However, it’s possible to buy a stand-alone earthquake insurance policy from another insurer altogether, so shopping around is beneficial if you want to save money. What Earthquake Insurance Covers Earthquake insurance will typically pay for repairs to your house and attached structures, such as your garage, as well as personal belongings and additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable due to the earthquake. Coverage in these areas is pretty standard, though there are some options that can be added to an earthquake insurance policy including building code upgrades, such as emergency repairs. Deductibles Earthquake insurance policies are usually associated with large deductibles of 5% to 20% of your dwelling coverage limit. Additionally, some companies use separate deductibles for different types of coverage. For example, you may have one deductible for your personal property coverage and another for your dwelling. Not all earthquake insurance policies have more than one deductible, so make sure to ask your...
Understanding Natural Disaster Insurance

Understanding Natural Disaster Insurance

The recent string of hurricanes that hammered the southeast U.S. with the addition of wildfires raging across California has turned a lot of homeowners’ minds to the idea of natural disaster insurance. If you find yourself in a similar state of mind, here are a few things you should understand about natural disaster insurance. Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover Natural Disasters Most homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies are designed to cover unforeseen damages, but not all unforeseen damages. When damage results from events like floods, earthquakes and rising water, a typical homeowners insurance policy won’t suffice. If you live in an area that’s prone to one or more natural disasters, you’re going to want to look into purchasing a separate insurance policy or add a rider to your existing policy that covers whichever natural disasters your home’s location is prone to.  It’s important to note here that although a wildfire could be considered a natural disaster, this peril is almost always covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy without the addition of any special rider.  The trick, though, is obtaining homeowner’s insurance in a high-fire risk area in the first place.  It is available, but it can be costly.  Click here for more information on this topic. You’ll Need Some Cash on Hand Depending on the policy you choose, your natural disaster insurance will cover a significant portion of damages. However, there’s often a deductible involved. Earthquake insurance, for example, can require policyholders to pay as much as 15% out-of-pocket. By earmarking some of your savings in the event of a natural disaster, you’ll be well-prepared to handle the costs you...
What can you do if your cell phone is stolen while you’re camping?

What can you do if your cell phone is stolen while you’re camping?

Camping is a great way to get away from the everyday grind of work, bills, meetings and whatever else you might have on your plate. My husband and I recently returned from a camping trip to the Russian River, which lies about an hour north of San Francisco. It’s a beautiful area, punctuated by rolling vineyards, towering redwoods, and of course, the winding Russian River. Things were going along fine until someone stole my cell phone. That’s right, my cell phone – that lifeline that connects us to friends, family and current events in the news. I had left it on the picnic table at our campsite and noticed it was gone just before we were set to take our annual canoe trip down the river, courtesy of Burke’s Canoe Trips. We spent an hour looking for it, to no avail. It was simply gone. If this happens to you, your homeowners insurance will cover the loss. But you’ll likely have to meet your deductible first, which often is $1,000. So that might not make sense. My husband was thinking of bringing his cell phone along for the canoe ride but I managed to talk him out of it. That turned out to be a wise decision because less than 1,000 feet into our ride we capsized going around a sharp bend!  So does your insurance pay if your phone gets damaged by a river? It depends on the type of policy you have.  “Named Peril” covers the following: Fire or lightning Theft Water damage from specific sources (this is for water pipes that burst and similar incidents) Falling objects...
Natural Disaster Insurance – Why You Need It

Natural Disaster Insurance – Why You Need It

Recently, Hurricane Harvey ravaged Texas, and Hurricane Irma is currently threatening parts of Florida and South Carolina – prompting declarations of a state of emergency in both states. Hurricanes can be, and usually are, devastating when they make landfall. The only real positive side is that, thanks to modern technology, we can receive an early warning as to their formation and track their progress. Unfortunately, not all natural disasters can be predicted with any reasonable accuracy. That’s why it’s so important to buy natural disaster insurance. Your run-of-the-mill homeowners insurance policy typically doesn’t cover anything even remotely approaching a natural disaster, and no matter where you live in the United States, you’re at risk of experiencing one kind or another. Here in California, earthquakes are a big one (no pun intended). To protect yourself in the event of an earthquake, you’ll need to buy natural disaster insurance either as a standalone policy or as an endorsement to your homeowners or renters insurance. Earthquake insurance is available from most insurance companies, and in California, it’s also available from the California Earthquake Authority. The next major natural disaster most Californians face is that of a brush or wildfire. We all know they happen all the time, and while firefighters work tirelessly to contain the blazes, homes and other structures are inevitably lost in many cases. As of September 2, 2017, 312 homes and structures have been destroyed by wildfires throughout the state. With the millions of homes that exist in California, that’s a very small number, however, if you decide not to purchase insurance for that reason, you’re playing with fire...
HERE ARE SOME FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE IN CALIFORNIA

HERE ARE SOME FACTS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT FLOOD INSURANCE IN CALIFORNIA

California is known as the land of earthquakes. If you have any doubt about that ask anyone who lived through the 1994 Northridge earthquake. But for some, the risk of flooding is greater – and certainly more apt to happen. Most Golden State residents don’t live in areas that are prone to flooding. But others whose homes are located on some of the side streets off of Placerita Canyon Road in Santa Clarita, Acton or the Antelope Valley sometimes find themselves facing a deluge when heavy rains arrive. Check out the flash flooding that occurred in Acton earlier this month. That left some residents stranded in a pharmacy, another man in need of a rescue by helicopter and an interruption of local Metrolink service.  The first thing you need to know about flood insurance is that it’s not included in your homeowner’s insurance policy. It has to be purchased separately. Flood coverage, according to the California Department of Insurance, is provided for direct physical loss to property from a flood. And a flood? That’s described as “a temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land, or of two or more properties” (at least one of which is your property) from: Overflow of inland or tidal waters Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface water from any source Mudflow, defined as a river of liquid and flowing mud on the surface of normally dry land You should also be aware that there are limits to the amount of flood coverage you can get. For residential properties the maximum limit is $250,000 for the...