The Chubb Group of Insurance Companies has created a guide to help homeowners protect their families, home and possessions from wildfires. In addition to providing tips about home construction, home maintenance and landscaping, the guide suggests actions to take as a wildfire approaches.
“Drawing on decades of loss control and appraisal experience, we have pulled together a guide to help our homeowners’ customers reduce the threat to their families and property,” said Daniel McCabe, vice president of Chubb & Son and national marketing manager at Chubb Personal Insurance. “These are many of the very same factors our residential appraisals consider when conducting brushfire inspections in California – which has enabled us to provide insurance to homeowners in the state who may otherwise have had difficulty obtaining coverage.”
McCabe added that wildfires are not just a problem for Californians and residents of other dryer-climate states in the Southwest. “Unfortunately, wildfires make a habit of consuming everything in their paths throughout the country. We’re trying to help people remove themselves and their homes from the paths,” he said.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) found that, between 1999 and 2003, 475,009 wildfires burned approximately 29.5 million acres of land. In 2003, California alone experienced 9,118 wildfires and 799,867 burned acres.
So far this year, the NIFC reports that wildfires have burned 7.7 million
acres – more acres during any of the last 40 years.
To reduce their underwriting exposure to wildfires, some insurers have
been reported to use satellite imagery to identify entire areas that are prone to these disasters. In contrast, Chubb has been sending home appraisers to prospective customers’ homes in wildfire areas to review their individual exposures.
“Chubb’s appraisers identify whether or not homeowners in wildfire regions have taken steps to reduce their exposure,” said Scott Spencer, vice president at Chubb & Son and worldwide appraisal manager for Chubb Personal Insurance. “Homeowners who have taken appropriate measures are finding it easier to purchase insurance as well as to rest easy at night.”
The guide, viewable at http://www.chubb.com/personal/html/helpful_tips_home_wildfire.html, includes such tips as:
* Screen all vent openings with 1/4-inch or smaller non-corrosive metal mesh;
* Keep the roof and gutters free of leaves, needles, branches and other debris;
* Maintain a minimum of 15 feet between tree crowns; and
* When wildfire approaches, wet shrubs within 15 feet of the home.
In addition to brushfire inspections, Chubb’s appraisers help customers determine the replacement cost for their homes. “This process takes into account the actual materials and workmanship used in constructing each home,” said Spencer. “This provides Chubb’s customers with a more accurate way of determining how much to insure their homes for than the cost calculators used
by many of our competitors.”
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