high wind and red flag warnings in effect through Sunday for the San Gorgonio Pass and most of Southern California, the Association of California Insurance Companies is reminding residents to take steps to protect homes and families from wildfire.With
California has a documented history of major fires in the month of October, insurance officials said in an announcement distributed Friday Oct. 4.
Windy conditions and dry brush create prime conditions for wildfires, insurance officials said. Previously these ingredients have fueled major wildfires causing significant property damage.
According to the Association of California Insurance Companies, five of the top 10 costliest wildfires in U.S. history have occurred in California during the month of October:
- October 1991 Oakland Hills, $2.576 billion
- October 2007 Witch Fire, $1.387 billion
- October 2003 Cedar Fire, $1.276 billion
- October 2003 Old Fire, $1.174 billion
- October 1993 Orange County $507 million
"California still faces extreme fire conditions," Mark Sektnan,
ACIC president, said in the Oct. 4 announcement. "Californians should remain on alert and take extra
precautions to avoid causing preventable fires. It is also urgent that
residents take the opportunity now to mitigate damage around their
home. Simple steps include clearing brush and also preparing fiscally
by updating your insurance policy and making a home inventory of
Financial preparedness should be made a priority in addition to
physically mitigating risk around a home, Sektnan said.
"Just like the
East Coast is bracing for a possible hurricane, Californians need to
prepare for wildfires," Sektnan said. "Make time now to mitigate risk and ensure your
family is financially prepared to recover after a major fire. It is as
simple as taking a cell phone and walking through your house to
inventory all your possessions. Give your agent or company a call and
make sure your coverage is updated after any home improvements."
Here's more from the Association of California Insurance Companies:
Wildfire Financial Preparedness Tips
Review Your Policy Regularly - Review your property insurance policy
with your insurance company or agent. If you have recently remodeled or
built a new addition onto your property, be sure to increase the amount
of protection to cover the changes to the property. If your home is paid
off, be sure to maintain coverage.
Keep an Inventory - To speed claims processing, keep an inventory of
your possessions and photograph or videotape them for documentation
purposes. After a fire, you will be asked to list the items that were
destroyed or damaged along with a brief description that includes
receipts, appraisals, and the age, current value, make, model and serial
number of items.
Understand Your Policy - Homeowners need to understand the type of
policy they have. There are two kinds of policies: A replacement cost
policy will generally repair or replace covered personal property
damaged by an insured peril. While an actual cash value policy only
provides reimbursement for the depreciated value of covered personal
property. Coverage for earthquake damage is typically available as an
optional endorsement to your homeowners insurance policy. California
residents can purchase earthquake coverage from the California
Earthquake Authority. Flood insurance is available through the
National Flood Insurance Program.
Physical Preparedness Tips
Create Defensive Space - For those living in high fire hazard areas, the best
protection is defensive space. Clear the land around dwellings of all
vegetation. Experts recommend that the cleared area extend at least 30
to 100 feet from the dwelling in all directions.
- Remove dead leaves and debris from roof or rain gutters.
- Remove wood piles or prune flammable plants and shrubs near windows.
- Trim trees so branches are a minimum of 10 feet from other threes. Embers are a major cause of spreading fires.
- Remove vegetation and items that can catch fire under decks.
Fire Prevention Tips
- Don't toss burning cigarettes out into dry brush areas.
- Be sure campfires are completely put out and doused with water and cannot relight.
- Be careful with controlled burns, severe weather can cause a normal burn to become out of control.
- Be cautious with mowing equipment on dry brush – one spark can ignite a wildfire.
The Association of California Insurance Companies is a
subsidiary of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and represents 391 property/casualty insurance companies doing
business in California. For more info visit www.acicnet.org.