Empowering Californians Through Insurance Preparedness
National Preparedness Month serves as a timely reminder for us all to evaluate our readiness for unforeseen challenges, and this year, Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara is urging consumers and businesses as part of insurance preparedness to take a closer look at their insurance coverage. In the face of an increasingly unpredictable world, it’s never been more crucial for Californians to be prepared for disasters of all kinds. The Golden State’s diverse array of potential threats, from wildfires and earthquakes to floods, necessitates proactive planning and adequate insurance coverage.
Commissioner Lara’s message is clear: Preparedness is paramount, and insurance is vital to that readiness. The California Department of Insurance is working diligently to provide individuals and organizations with the tools they need to safeguard their assets and livelihoods. By promoting resilience and ensuring affordable insurance options, they aim to shield Californians from disaster risks.
“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.”
Safer from Wildfires: A Multi-Tiered Strategy
One of the most pressing concerns in California, especially during the scorching summer months, is the ever-present risk of wildfires. To address this, Commissioner Lara introduced the groundbreaking Safer from Wildfires regulations, a comprehensive strategy to enhance wildfire resilience. This initiative is divided into ten impactful 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 to protect your home and potentially save on insurance coverage:
- Keep Embers Out: Installing 1/16 to 1/8 inch noncombustible, corrosion-resistant metal mesh screens over attic vents can effectively keep wind-blown embers out of your house.
- Clear the First 5 Feet: Removing greenery and replacing wood chips with stone or decomposed granite within 5 feet around your home can prevent fire from gaining a foothold.
- Be Safer Together: Firewise USA, a nationally recognized program sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association, empowers communities to create action plans for safety. Whether your community has 8 dwelling units or 2,500, you can start being safer together.
The more proactive measures you take, the better your protection and potential savings on insurance coverage. The Department is actively reviewing insurance company discounts to expedite their availability and has recently approved insurance discounts for FAIR Plan policyholders. If you are a FAIR Plan policyholder, don’t hesitate to contact your agent or broker to learn how to qualify for the Safer from Wildfires initiative.
Earthquake Readiness: Protecting Your Home and Assets
Another critical aspect of California’s preparedness is earthquake readiness. Traditional insurance policies often do not 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 essential for Californians to assess the necessity of earthquake coverage, especially if they reside 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 strongly consider purchasing a separate earthquake insurance policy and exploring options for seismic retrofitting their homes.
Flood Insurance: Don’t Overlook the Risks
Floods are another potential catastrophe that is often overlooked in traditional insurance policies. What many people may not realize is that flood insurance typically requires a 30-day waiting period before it becomes effective. While the Federal Flood Insurance Program primarily offers coverage in the state, there are also private flood insurance alternatives available.
Commissioner Lara emphasizes the importance of carefully scrutinizing your existing coverage to understand what perils are included or excluded in the event of rainstorm-related damages beyond rising water flooding.
General Insurance Preparedness: Steps for All Californians
Regardless of the type of disaster, there are universal steps that all Californians can take to be prepared:
- Home Inventory: Use your smartphone to create a record of your belongings and store scans of important documents that you can easily access in the event of a disaster.
- Secure Your Insurance Papers: Locate your insurance papers and store them in a safe place or upload them to an online location for easy access.
- Emergency Plan: Create a disaster preparedness plan with your family, including evacuation routes, meeting points, and communication strategies. Additionally, put together an emergency supply kit with essential items like food, water, and first-aid supplies.
Commissioner Lara’s closing words reinforce the California Department of Insurance’s commitment to the protection of consumers and their peace of mind in the face of uncertainty. By working together and taking proactive steps, Californians can fortify their state against adversity and build safer, more resilient communities.
In conclusion, as National Preparedness Month unfolds, Commissioner Lara’s call to action resonates deeply. Insurance preparedness is not just about safeguarding our assets; it’s about ensuring our ability to recover and rebuild when disaster strikes. By reviewing our insurance coverage, taking proactive measures, and embracing a culture of preparedness, we can navigate the challenges that lie ahead with greater confidence and resilience.