Save on Natural Disaster Insurance by Being Prepared

Save on Natural Disaster Insurance by Being Prepared

Saving money where you can is never a bad idea, and insurance companies provide a number of ways you can save a significant amount of money on insurance. One of those ways is to save on homeowners and/or natural disaster insurance by taking steps to make your home less likely to be damaged in the event of a wildfire. As summer heats up in Southern California, the landscape dries out and the tiniest spark could result in a devastating fire. A typical homeowners insurance policy won’t cover you in the event that your home is damaged by a wildfire, but natural disaster insurance will, and the cost can often be offset by taking precautions to make your home more fire-resistant. The following are some inexpensive things you can do to greatly reduce your risk of wildfire damage and possibly save some money on your natural disaster insurance: Replace Your Vents – Install ember-proof vents on the outside of your home. They’ll keep out flames and embers that could otherwise ignite something on the interior of your home. Keep Gutters Clear – A lot of homes in the area already come with fireproof tiles, but fires can still start if there’s flammable debris in your gutters. Don’t Build Wooden Decks – If you’re wanting to build a deck outside your home, use brick, stone or concrete – not wood. Replace Fences – If you have a wood fence surrounding your property, consider replacing it using ignition-resistant or non-combustible materials. One of the best ways to save on your natural disaster insurance is to never have to file a claim in...
Mudslide coverage is sometimes linked to prior brushfires

Mudslide coverage is sometimes linked to prior brushfires

The mudslides that swept through Montecito in Santa Barbara County earlier this year were chaotic — and devastating. They resulted in more than 20 deaths and scores of injuries. They destroyed more than 110 homes and 1,415 insurance claims were filed listing nearly $388 million in residential property losses, according to a recent Los Angeles Times article. Many of those homeowners didn’t have flood insurance, but California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones issued a formal notice in January to all property and casualty insurance companies reminding them of their duty to cover damages if it was determined that the ravaging of hillsides and vegetation by the Thomas and other fires ultimately caused the mudslides. “Californians have suffered greatly with all of the devastating losses from wildfires that struck the state in the last three months of 2017,” Jones said in a statement issued in January. “If the evidence shows the Thomas Fire or another peril covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy was the efficient proximate cause of mudflow damage, I expect insurance companies to step up and cover these financial losses.” Homeowners insurance policies don’t cover floods, earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes, war or nuclear accidents. But a separate flood insurance policy may cover mudslide damage as long as the mud is carried by a river or stream of water. However, if it’s a landslide caused by a saturated hillside coming down it wouldn’t be covered by flood insurance. Most Mendicino homeowners did not carry flood insurance since there was was very little chance of flooding so something had to be done. If you’re looking to buy a home you should check to see what...
Earthquake insurance and state program offer protection

Earthquake insurance and state program offer protection

Anyone who lived through the 1994 Northridge earthquake will tell you it was no picnic. Walls were shaking, dishes were flying – and before it was over 57 people died and more than 8,700 were injured. Many homes suffered damage, ranging from relatively minor cracks to serious, full-blown damage. Homeowners without earthquake insurance were pretty much out of luck. No one can predict when the next big shaker will hit, but one thing is certain: If you don’t have earthquake insurance you could be hurting. Earthquake insurance must be purchased separately from your homeowners insurance, and many homeowners haven’t opted to get it because they think rates are higher than they really are. So you might want to check it out. You should also check out the  Earthquake Brace + Bolt program (EBB). Funded primarily by the California Earthquake Authority, it just closed its latest registration with more than 7,500 California homeowners applying for 2,000 retrofit grants. The program helps lessen the potential for earthquake damage to qualifying older homes by granting up to $3,000 toward a seismic retrofit. It targets homes that were built before 1979, with an emphasis on pre-1940 homes. A record number of Californians signed up for EBB this year, according to Glenn Pomeroy, the agency’s CEO. The CEA also offers further financial incentives, including a 20 percent discount on CEA earthquake insurance premiums for homes that have been properly retrofitted. Qualifying homeowners are being selected early this month through a random drawing to either participate in the EBB program or be placed on the waiting list. Wait-listed homeowners may be accepted into the program throughout the year. So there’s still time...
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...