Californians overwhelmingly consider it their responsibility to prevent underinsurance, with homeowners in areas struck by catastrophic wildfire most strongly recognizing that they must keep their homes adequately insured, according to a new statewide poll.
Sixty-one percent of those surveyed in the poll commissioned by the Insurance Information Network of California said that homeowners have the primary responsibility to keep their insurance policies current. Of the 800 people interviewed, 73 percent of San Bernardino County and 68 percent of San Diego County respondents — people located in areas devastated by recent wildfires — call insurance updates a personal responsibility.
California courts this year reaffirmed that homeowners have the primary responsibility to make sure their home insurance is up-to-date. In the case, Everett v. State Farm, the state Appellate Court ruled that, “It is up to the insured to determine whether he or she has sufficient coverage for his or her needs.”
In the IINC poll, likely voters were asked, “Which of the following (do) you believe has the responsibility to make sure that your homeowners insurance policy is kept current?” Of the 800 likely voters surveyed, 61 percent called it their own responsibility; 17 percent said it was the responsibility of their insurance agent; 12 percent, their insurance company; 5 percent, all of the above and 6 percent either did not know or did not answer.
The new poll was conducted for IINC by Public Opinion Strategies September 21-24 with a margin of error of 3.46 percent.
“Only the homeowner will know if they have done substantial renovation work that requires an increase in insurance limits,” said IINC Executive Director Candysse Miller. “Year after year, our independent surveys have confirmed that Californians understand that.”
Past surveys by IINC revealed that while as many as two-thirds of those surveyed said that homeowners have the primary responsibility to keep their insurance policies current, only about one-third had actually had read their homeowners policy in the past year.
“Financial preparedness is a key and sometimes overlooked part of disaster readiness,” Miller said. “It may sound like a chore, but understanding your insurance coverage is a critical step in protecting your home and assets.”
IINC offers a number of free Web-based tools to help consumers track and evaluate their insurance and finances, including software to create a home inventory, track financial goals and create a wallet-sized insurance information card. For more information, visit the IINC Web site at www.iinc.org.
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