Wildfire Evacuations Raise Insurance Concerns

Insurers offer firewise safety and insurance tips

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As the threat of wildfires near Flagstaff forced evacuations of homes, the Arizona Insurance Council (AIC), the state trade association for property and casualty insurers, is urging residents to check with insurers about their coverage.

This may include additional living expenses if you have to leave your home threatened by wildfires.

According to the Arizona State Forestry Division, more than 533 wildfires scorched more than 20,000 acres in Arizona last year.

It estimates more than 4,000 homes, businesses, and other structures were threatened by wildland fires in the past three years.

Ron Williams, executive director for Arizona Insurance Council (AIC) says “including autos, boats and other personal property, the economic losses in 2010 could be in the millions of dollars.”

Arizona property owners living in wildland areas can access wildfire safety and property saving tips online at the AIC website, www.azinsurance.org/WFLinks.html.

An annual insurance policy check-up is an essential factor in protecting your home and belongings any time of year.

Home and business owners should contact their agent or insurance company to make certain they have the proper level of coverage. 

Key points to go over with your insurance company or agent include:

• Does the policy cover the current costs of rebuilding your house?

The increases in cost for lumber, steel, concrete and copper have significantly outpaced other products. Those price increases affect what insurers pay to repair and rebuild homes and the costs of satisfying those claims is shared by all homeowner insurance consumers.

• Does your policy provide coverage for additional living expenses, such as hotel bills and restaurant meals for the time you are evacuated from your home and/or while your home is being rebuilt?

• Is your insurance company or agent aware of any improvements you have made on your home or business?

Updating a kitchen, new carpeting or installing a swimming pool adds to the value of your home. The same applies to business improvements.

• Have you upgraded your home electrical system or plumbing system, or installed anti-theft alarms or fire sprinklers?

These improvements could help reduce your insurance premium, depending on your insurance company’s business practices. 

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