Calif. Commissioner Urges Homeowners to Get ‘Fire Ready’ and ‘Insurance Smart’

July 16, 2004

Joined by firefighters at a county fire department training center Friday, state Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi urged California homeowners to safeguard themselves against summer wildfires by getting “fire ready” and “insurance smart.”

As wildfires charred more than 23,000 acres of brush and forest in Central and Southern California and forced evacuations, Garamendi said the need is urgent to prepare and protect oneself during the current fire season.

“Act now to protect yourself,” Garamendi said. “California is in the midst of a sweltering summer. Residents should get fire ready today by putting a plan in place to make your home fire safe.” Garamendi and Los Angeles county firefighters presented fire safety preparedness tips for the home, school, work and outdoors. A checklist is available at the California Department of Insurance Web site or by calling Garamendi’s Consumer Hotline at 1-800-927-HELP.

“What would you do if you woke up and smelled smoke, heard the crackling of flames and were blinded by dense embers and ash?” the Commissioner said. “Wildfires and structural fires have no mercy. California is no stranger to the wrath of a wildfire’s destructive path.”

Garamendi encouraged California consumers. “Learn the lessons being taught by the brave survivors of last year’s firestorms,” he said. “They discovered that in many cases their insurance policies wouldn’t cover the cost of rebuilding. It’s critically important to become insurance smart and examine your policies today.”

“Underinsurance is a serious issue for the people who lost their homes in last October’s firestorms,” added Garamendi. “I have held nine town hall meetings in the burn areas, and nearly 2,000 people attended. Unfortunately many of them now know that the policies they bought fall far short of making their lives whole again.

“Check your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy and make sure you have enough coverage in the case of a total loss,” the Commissioner said. “Careful review of your insurance policy can prevent a disaster from striking twice.”

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