Tuesday, 18 June 2024

Commissioner Lara urges consumers and businesses to review insurance coverage during National Preparedness Month

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — As National Preparedness Month begins, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara urges consumers and businesses to review their insurance coverage and ensure they have the proper resources to prepare for any possible disaster.

From wildfires to earthquakes and floods, the Golden State's diverse challenges demand proactive preparation.

The California Department of Insurance is empowering individuals and organizations with the tools they need to safeguard their assets and livelihoods, promoting resilience and securing affordable insurance options.

"We are using every resource at our disposal to shield Californians from disaster risks,” declared Commissioner Lara. "By enhancing the safety of homes and businesses, we can save lives, mitigate losses, and help make insurance more available and affordable for all.”

As the state grapples with persistently high temperatures this summer, the risk of wildfires remains a pressing concern. Commissioner Lara's first-in-the-nation Safer from Wildfires regulations offer a multi-tiered strategy for bolstering wildfire resilience.

The initiative comprises 10 comprehensive actions distributed across three layers of protection: structural measures, immediate vicinity safeguards, and community-wide strategies.

Here are three high-impact, cost-effective steps that can be taken immediately:

• Keep embers out: Installing 1/16 to 1/8 inch noncombustible, corrosion-resistant metal mesh screens over attic vents can keep wind-blown embers out of your house.
• Clear the first 5 feet: Removing greenery and replacing wood chips with stone or decomposed granite 5 feet around your home prevents fire from getting a foot in the door.
• Be safer together: With Firewise USA, communities as small as 8 dwelling units or as big as 2,500 can create an action plan and start being safer together. Firewise USA is a nationally recognized program with proven results, sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association.

The more you do, the more you can protect and possibly save on insurance coverage. The Department is continuing its review of insurance company discounts to make them available as soon as possible – and recently approved insurance discounts for the FAIR Plan. If you are a FAIR Plan policyholder, contact your agent or broker to learn how to qualify for Safer from Wildfires.

These proactive measures not only enhance protection but may also lead to substantial insurance coverage savings.

The Department is also actively expediting the availability of insurance company discounts and has recently granted insurance discounts for FAIR Plan policyholders. If you're a FAIR Plan policyholder, connect with your agent or broker to learn how to qualify for the Safer from Wildfires initiative.

Earthquake readiness is another pivotal aspect of Californians' preparedness. Traditional insurance policies seldom cover earthquake damages, and recent data analysis by the Department of Insurance reveals that nearly 90 percent of homeowners and renters lack earthquake insurance.

It's vital to assess the necessity of earthquake coverage, particularly for those residing in seismic zones. Individuals with older, multi-story homes, or dwellings on soft soil or slopes may be particularly vulnerable to earthquake damage.

They should consider purchasing a separate earthquake insurance policy, and/or a seismic retrofit of their home.

Floods pose another potential catastrophe often overlooked in traditional policies. Many remain unaware that flood insurance usually requires a 30-day waiting period before becoming effective. While the Federal Flood Insurance Program primarily offers coverage in the state, private flood insurance alternatives are also available.

Commissioner Lara underscores the significance of scrutinizing existing coverage to comprehend what perils are included or excluded in the event of rainstorm-related damages beyond rising water flooding.

No matter what the disaster there are steps all Californians can take to be prepared. Here are a few:

• Use your smartphone to perform a home inventory to create a record of your belongings and store scans of important documents that you can easily access.
• Locate your insurance papers and put them in a safe place or upload to an online location.
• Create a plan with your family to evacuate your home should a disaster strike and put together an emergency supply kit.

"The California Department of Insurance is an unwavering advocate and steadfast protector of consumers. We stand as experts in insurance and consumer protection, committed to ensuring every Californian's peace of mind in the face of uncertainty,” added Commissioner Lara. “Together, we can fortify our state against adversity and build safer communities."

The Department has additional resources to prepare for disasters and review insurance coverage on its website.

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